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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Joy of first Christmas present sparks a lifetime of giving by Spokane woman

Treva Lind treval@spokesman.com, (509)459-5423

Growing up as a child of the Depression, Barbara “Bobby” Stevens didn’t get Christmas presents. That changed around age 12, when she received her first holiday surprise.

Now a regular Christmas Bureau donor, the 92-year-old Spokane resident vividly recalls that treasure, a shiny makeup compact given at Christmas by a nearby charity. She grew up poor among 11 children living in abandoned military barracks in Westport, Washington.

“There was a charity in Aberdeen about 23 miles away that collected money and bought one little gift for each child,” in about 1935, Stevens said. “The compact was silver, shiny and had makeup powder in it.

“I treasured it very much because it was probably the nicest thing I had.”

She also remembers growing up happy, though, with impromptu track meets in the yard among the eight girls and three boys. The large family never went hungry either, and her mother washed clothes for extra income.

When she got a bit older, a sister who was married would give a few trinkets during Christmas, but the bright compact stood out.

“It was probably a little old for me, but I loved it,” Stevens said.

She and her husband, George Stevens, 82, donate faithfully to the Christmas Bureau each year. Bobby Stevens said it’s a tradition because they have received so much in life and want to help others.

“We’re well-situated now,” she said. “The Lord led us in a path we didn’t expect.

“We try to give to the needy in Spokane. I love the Christmas Bureau because of the happiness it brings to the children, and to the parents too, because they can give the gift to a child. That’s a hard thing for a parent, not to be able to do that.”

The Christmas Bureau opens Thursday and runs through Dec. 19, except for Sunday, at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center, where needy families receive books, gifts and $15 to $30 food vouchers.

The charity, run by Volunteers of America, Catholic Charities Spokane 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 received going directly to the gifts and vouchers that will be distributed to about 9,000 families.

Recent donations

The law offices of Douglas, Eden, Phillips, DeRuyter & Stanyer in Spokane gave $5,000. Signed by 11 people, the firm’s note said, “We are pleased to again join with others in the community to support The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund and help spread joy and goodwill to families in need; especially as so many are recovering from the recent windstorm. During this holiday season of peace and sharing, it is our privilege to contribute $5,000. Thank you for your good work in making the holidays a special time for so many people.”

Tom and Colleen Tracy, of Spokane, gave $500, “To support a wonderful community tradition that brings so much joy to those who might otherwise go without. Merry Christmas to those who are helped by this tradition.”

Pamela Comstock, of Spokane, gave $500.

Cyrus and Janet Vaughn, of Spokane, donated $500.

Alma June Williams, of Spokane Valley, gave $500.

Mr. and Mrs. David Floyd, of Newport, Wash., gave $250.

Mr. and Mrs. Orval Janssen, of Spokane, gave $250.

Jim and Julie Lehr, of Spokane, gave $200.

Frank and Patricia Goodman, of Spokane, gave $200.

Janis Carrington and Gary D. Michael, of Spokane, donated $200.

Glenn and Lorena Williams, of Spokane, gave $200.

Alejo Atacador, of Spokane, gave $200 via PayPal, with the note, “In memory of Danny Sullivan.”

J.R. and J.K. Scott, of Spokane Valley, gave $150.

Jon W. and Dana Bowne, of Colbert, gave $100.

Barry Benoit, of Hauser, gave $100.

Patricia Dretke, of Kettle Falls, Wash., gave $100, writing, “Keep up the great work and Happy Holidays.”

Michael and Susan Hawkins, of Post Falls, gave $100.

Joyce Stefanoff, of Spokane, gave $100.

Mabel Morrison, of Spokane, gave $100 with the note, “For the usual good cause!”

Tom and Julie Overhauser, of Spokane, donated $100.

Donald Barden, of Spokane, gave $100 via PayPal.

Christy Pospahala, of Spokane, gave $100 via PayPal.

Don and Bette Endresen, of Spokane, gave $100 via PayPal.

Tom and Mary Brown, of Spokane, gave $100 via PayPal, “in memory of Dan Sullivan.”

Charles W. and Mary Ellen, of Liberty Lake, gave $50.

Bonnie Orcutt, of Spokane, gave $50.

An anonymous Spokane donor gave $50.

Gary and Jan Huguenin, of Spokane gave $50, “In memory of Welden Broom (Pa Pa) and Neva Singer.”

An anonymous Spokane donor gave $50.

Joanne Bouma, of Spokane, gave $50.

Glenis Brantley, of Spokane, gave $50.

Jerry Hubbard, of Spokane Valley, gave $50 via PayPal.

Mary Sullivan, of Spokane, gave $30 with the note, “Please accept this donation in order to purchase toys this Christmas season. Happy Holidays to all of you.”

An anonymous Spokane donor gave $20.

Meghan McLaughlin gave $20 via PayPal, with a note for “Sam and Sean’s 5th birthday.”

Note: For donations made through PayPal, The Spokesman-Review contributed the PayPal processing fee.

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