Once in a while, a family struggling to put gifts under the tree turns to the library.
“Over the years, from time to time, we’ve had people come in at Christmastime and ask for a card for their child because they didn’t have much to give them,” said Pat Davis, a library supervisor with Spokane County Library District. “It gives you a little tug at the heart that people are in that position.”
Library cards are free. So are the myriad of services and programs offered at the 10 county library locations.
Wanting to help more families learn about and access those programs, Davis contacted the Christmas Bureau, where families in need can choose one book for each child through age 14 and one gift for each child through age 17. They also receive a $15 to $30 food voucher, based on family size.
The charity is funded by donations and aims to raise $525,000 by Christmas to pay for those gifts.
Now, along with vouchers, books and toys for Christmas, families who come to the bureau can sign up for a library card and learn about library programming. The library district is staffing a table in between the book tables and the toy room.
“This is a great partnership, having them here,” said book table volunteer Tana Carosella, noting the library is a free way for children to read more from their favorite authors or find the next book in a series.
“They can go to the library and find that author their child was excited about. They can use the library to extend their child’s reading,” she said. She held up a book and pointed to the number 1 on the cover. “This is the first in the series. They can go get the other two at the library.”
Marilee Roloff, executive director for Volunteers of America, which organizes the bureau in partnership with Catholic Charities and The Spokesman-Review, said she was thrilled to have the county library district come.
“I want kids to have a different book every week, because readers are critical thinkers, problem-solvers and good citizens,” she said. “Reading opens the door to everything.”
While working at the bureau on Wednesday, Davis said many of the people she talked to didn’t realize how much the library offers.
“A lot of people have the idea that the library is books. There is so much more available now,” said Davis, describing how library members can access programs for children, tweens, teens and adults, such as story times, drawing or photography classes, Lego build days, homework help, resume assistance, a testing and education reference center, and Microsoft IT Academy, which library members can access anywhere in the state from an Internet-connected computer.
“I’m hoping people will be more aware of what the library offers and take advantage of it. These would be great things for people that need help with school or finding a job and finding enjoyable things to do,” Davis said. “It’s a great way to give that gift of reading and the entertainment that’s available through a library.”
Hal Dixon, of Spokane, gave $2,500.
Kevin West, of Spokane, gave $1,000. “To the many volunteers of The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund, thank you, thank you, thank you … Your time and effort benefits so many in our community! In lieu of client gifts this year (as I’ve done for many years), I’d like to give back and help those in need. Happy holidays to all!” wrote West, senior vice president at Morgan Stanley.
Modern Construction, of Spokane Valley, gave $1,000.
An anonymous Hayden Lake donor gave $700.
Barry and Carole Jones, of Spokane, gave $500. “Thank you for all you do for so many people in our community. It is greatly appreciated!” they wrote.
An anonymous Spokane Valley donor gave $500.
William and Georgette Savitz, of Spokane, gave $250.
Al and Sandy Fruetel, of Mead, gave $200 “in memory for our sister/sister-in-law, Debbie Peppones, and our best man and close friend for 50 years, Swede Wick. Christmas was a special time of the year for both of them.”
Diane and Gregory Wick, of Mead, gave $200, as did Heidi and Harold Clarke, of Spokane, and an anonymous Spokane Valley donor.
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $152.
Al and Carol Stopp, of Spokane, gave $150. “Our family has been so blessed by Father God. Even thru the hard times He has been there. We’d like to pay it forward and gift others with His love and grace,” they wrote.
Robert and Eva Akers, of Spokane, gave $125.
Anna Maria and Jose Cepeda, of Spokane, gave $100, as did four anonymous donors.
Bob and Peggy Frank, of Spokane, gave $100 in memory of Megan Brinson.
Claudia Kirkebo DBA Lelands on Wall, of Spokane, gave $100.
Other Spokane donors giving $100 were Jane and J. Courtright, John and Sharon Sutton, Kath’ren and Alexis Bay-Higdon, Leslie Hall and Norma Rosenberger.
An anonymous Spokane Valley donor gave $100.
Beverly Gibb, of Spokane, gave $50.
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $20 in loving memory of Annabelle.
Joanne Martin, of Spokane Valley, gave $20.
Fred Ruhoff, of Spokane, gave $2.61 via PayPal.
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