Christmas is a time of traditions. From decorations to music, food to gift giving, some traditions are common, others specific to each family. In some homes, for example, each child opens one gift on Christmas Eve, a brand-new pair of pajamas to wear during an excited night of anticipation. What will Santa bring?
New pajamas are a cozy complement to gleeful faces surrounded by candy canes, wrapping paper and Christmas love.
The students at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Spokane Valley are helping create that scene for many less-fortunate children in Spokane. On Monday, they donated about 250 new pajamas to the Christmas Bureau.
“It’s a wonderful project and giving that their students are doing,” said Christmas Bureau coordinator Judy Lee. “Not all kids are fortunate to get new pajamas. A lot of them get hand-me-downs or sleep in old T-shirts. To have a cute, new pair of pajamas – there’s something warm and cuddly about kids in pajamas that adds to the Christmas joy.”
At the Christmas Bureau, which opens Wednesday, needy families also receive books, gifts and $15 to $30 food vouchers.
The charity, run by Volunteers of America, Catholic Charities and The Spokesman-Review, has been a Spokane tradition since 1945, funded by reader donations. It needs to raise $525,000 this season, with about 96 percent of the money raised going directly to the gifts and vouchers that will be distributed to about 9,000 families.
This is the third year some of those Christmas gifts will include pajamas, thanks to the students at St. Mary’s.
“We knew the Christmas Bureau would give a toy and a book for each child and vouchers for part of their meal,” Vice Principal Kevin Schultz said. “We thought, ‘What other item do people like to get in the cold of winter in Spokane?’ ”
They picked pajamas, which have been warmly welcomed at the bureau.
“We combine the PJs with a toy item and they’ve been a big hit,” said Lee, noting the toy room volunteers attach pajamas to age-appropriate toys that may be smaller or less eye-catching. “The parents are thrilled. They’re getting a bonus item of a cute pair of pajamas.”
To ensure variety, each classroom at the preschool through eighth-grade school bought and brought pajamas in sizes that matched their own size, making the gift more meaningful. On Monday, the student council sorted the pajamas into piles, a colorful collection that outnumbered the student body.
“We collected more than our goal,” said student council President Genevieve Hose, 13, adding, “We’re doing this because we’re a Catholic school and want to help out our community in all the ways we can.”
“It’s pretty cool we get to help the kids that don’t have as much as us, that we get to help make some kids’ day,” said Anthony Noble, 14.
Testcomm, of Spokane, gave $7,350. “We are honored to continue our participation in this annual event of community and fellowship. We are proud to be part of the Spokane community and to participate in this annual event of sharing and caring,” manager Jerry Ensminger wrote.
The Bergquist Foundation, of Spokane, sent $2,500. Lawrence (Larry) Small and his wife, Patsy Small, formed the Bergquist Foundation after Patsy’s father, E.S. Bergquist, died in 1993. Patsy died in March 2014 and the foundation is making donations according to her wishes, trusting the Christmas Bureau “can put this money to good use in carrying out its worthy purposes.”
Connie and John Mickelson, of Spokane, gave $500, as did Roger and Kathleen Chase.
Evergreen Cosmetic and Family Dentistry, in Spokane Valley, gave $500.
An anonymous Valleyford donor gave $500 “in memory of family members who are no longer with us. Thank you for the energy and hard work you all contribute to make Christmas so much better for so many people,” they wrote.
An anonymous Deer Park donor gave $300 in memory of Milton and Fay Echelbarger.
Barbara and Roger Tompkins, of Spokane, gave $300. “Thanks for providing this service,” they wrote.
Stephen Scott, of Spokane, gave $250. “To my favorite Christmas organization!” he wrote.
Three anonymous Spokane donors gave $250, $200 and $150, respectively.
Debbie and Kirk Schmick and John, Jill and Joyce Bookwalter, of Spokane, gave $150 “in memory of our wonderful friend, Jack Shagool.”
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $125.
Charles and Cheryl Fox, of Bonners Ferry, gave $100.
Jon and Dana Bowne, of Colbert, gave $100.
Gary and Teresa Bell, of Otis Orchards, gave $100.
Spokane donors giving $100 include Bruce and Ann Dentler, Bruce and Sharon Anthony, D.E. and Jean Giovanazzi, Lois Stratton, Lorraine Cannon, Roger Palmberg, Steve and Linda Swartley, Wayne Attwood and an anonymous donor.
Bruce and Rebekka Higgins, of Spokane, gave $100 in memory of Pennie Cooley.
L.M. and Robert Martin, of Spokane Valley, gave $100.
Two anonymous Spokane donors gave $96.80 via PayPal, one in loving memory of her mom, Eunhi Hong.
Dale Nelson, of Spokane Valley, gave $96.80 via PayPal.
The Wednesday Bridge Club, of Spokane, gave $90, writing, “We, the members of the Wednesday Bridge Club, have donated for many years. We shall continue to do so. Your fund makes so many people have a happy holiday.”
Bob Mann, of Liberty Lake, gave $50.
Joanne Bouma, of Spokane, gave $50, as did Janet and Charles Hafner, of Spokane Valley.
Mary Kay Mace, of Liberty Lake, gave $44 “in memory of my dear friend, Mike Brack. I am honored to donate again to the fund,” she wrote.
A.M. Guzman and Evelyn Graves, of Medical Lake, gave $30.
Pat Keogh, of Spokane, gave $25.
William and Sandra Steffens, of Chattaroy, gave $20.
Dianne Cook, of Spokane, gave $20, writing, “Sent with gratitude for my family’s multitudes of blessings. Sharing the small extra I have means caring that others who haven’t any extra or even the basics, may have some material joy in this season of goodwill to all.”
Anne Edmonds, of Spokane, gave $15.
Barbara Kabanuk, of Spokane Valley, gave $10.
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