Each family that receives gifts for their children at the Christmas Bureau has a story. So do the donors who give generously to ensure every Spokane-area child has something nice to open on Christmas morning.
Funded by donations from the community, the Christmas Bureau distributes books, toys and food vouchers to about 9,000 needy families. The charity is a Spokane tradition for 69 years and still needs to raise more than $338,000 to pay for the gifts being given this season.
The GED students in the adult education division of Spokane Community College are doing their part to help.
Each year the student council does something for the community. In November, about 10 students volunteered at Tom’s Turkey Drive. Now they’re collecting money to split between Toys for Tots and the Christmas Bureau, at the suggestion of student council member Eden Stock.
“When I heard about the Christmas Bureau, I wanted to give back for all the help I’ve gotten since I’ve been here,” Stock said. “Being a single mother, feeling that you can’t get your kids presents, is really horrible. I understand what it’s like.”
Her fellow students quickly rallied behind the idea.
“I’m proud of each student. They’ve all come a long way,” Stock said. “We’d like to do good for the community.”
For faculty advisers Pamm Haslebacher and Jamie VanWormer, the students’ generosity is inspiring.
“These are students going back to get their GEDs. They’re the ones that should be receiving,” said Haslebacher, noting that about 90 percent of the students live below the poverty line. “It’s amazing they would think to give … . A lot have come from very difficult situations in life. They’re just trying to better themselves and get their GEDs.”
Haslebacher said many of the students are pursuing their high school equivalency, which has gotten more challenging to attain, because of their kids.
“They really want to set an example for their kids. That is such a big motivator,” she said. “They just keep pushing forward. Some of them have resiliency and they keep trying, faced with so many setbacks.
“They’re willing to look outside of themselves and their circumstances to give and help. I think that’s pretty cool,” she said.
At a recent student council meeting, the students dug in their purses and pockets for change to contribute. So far they’ve raised about $70 to split between the two charities and will continue fundraising next week.
At the Christmas Bureau, $35 is enough to make sure two children receive a quality toy and book on Christmas morning, thanks to the efficient efforts of the charity’s volunteer toy buyers.
Donations in all amounts are appreciated.
Avista employees donated $10,000. “Our community is blessed with a strong spirit of giving to others, especially those who are most in need. While financial donations are essential to the Christmas Bureau’s success, we recognize and extend our appreciation to the hundreds of volunteers from businesses, churches, non-profits and civic organizations that give so unselfishly each year to make the Christmas Bureau a reality,” wrote President and CEO Scott L. Morris.
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $700.
Jim and Melissa Tipke, of Spokane, gave $500. “We are very fortunate to be able to pass on our blessings to others. The Christmas Bureau is a wonderful holiday tradition that we look forward to supporting each year. Thank you for all the hard work,” they wrote.
Paulette and Jerry Firor, of Spokane, gave $451.
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $300.
Ralph and Debra Prouty, of Spokane, gave $300 in memory of Bud and Peggy Gates. “We love volunteering at the Bureau and donating to the fund,” they wrote.
Spokane donors giving $250 were Gary and Lisa Marks, Jerry and Rita Watkins, an anonymous donor, John and Whitney Sestero, and Judith Hudson, who wrote, “Such a wonderful cause. It really brings the true meaning of Christmas home to all of us.”
Neil and Brigid Krause, of Spokane, gave $200.
Tom, Darlene, McKenzie and Tanner Caldwell, of Spokane, gave $200 in memory of Craig, Rick, Gramps and Jeff.
Denise Mutschler, of Cheney, gave $100, as did Lianne and Frederick Inaba.
Two anonymous Spokane donors gave $100. “Thank you and God bless for all the work and effort for the Christmas fund,” one wrote.
Jim and Geri Swope, of Spokane, gave $100, as did Mary Cameron, of Spokane Valley.
Patricia Degenhart, of Spokane, gave $75.
Janice and Larry Sieg, of Moses Lake, gave $50.
Spokane donors giving $50 include Jim and Artye Scott, Julie Yahnke and Michael Rooth, Linda Williamson and two anonymous donors, one who gave in memory of their parents.
Maren and Brian Bofenkamp, of Spokane, gave $50 in memory of their parents.
Judith Schoepflin, of Spokane, gave $35.
Bertha and Eldred Hicks, of Spokane, gave $25, as did Betty Saxton.
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