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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane Valley Eagles, a musician and a cancer survivor to host Christmas Bureau fundraiser as a way of giving back

By Chelsea Bannach Correspondent

About 20 years ago, Linda Renford battled cancer.

“I remember saying to my daughter, ‘If I can only make this, I will make sure to help other people,’ and that’s what I do,” Renford said. “I’m in that position where I can help.”

Now, Renford is organizing a fundraiser to benefit the Christmas Fund, which pays for the Christmas Bureau, an annual Spokane event serving those less fortunate during the holidays.

The Spokane Valley Eagles, Aerie No. 3433, a service-oriented group, is hosting a lasagna dinner and dance Dec. 17, with a silent auction and raffle, to raise money for the bureau. The event is open to the public.

“It’s a good organization, and it helps a lot of people in our community,” Renford, a trustee with the group, said of the bureau. “It’s a good way to give back.”

The bureau provides new toys, books and more to thousands of children each year. “Christmas is about the children,” Renford said.

It’s not the first fundraiser the group members haveheld for the Christmas Fund. In July, they had a barbecue and raised more than $2,400. Following its success, they decided to hold another event to benefit the Christmas Fund even more.

Musician Chris Ellenberger will provide entertainment at the Dec. 17 fundraiser. He said he loves playing shows to benefit charitable causes. He’s been playing music since he was about 12. A percussionist at heart, he likes music from the ’50s and ’60s, rock ’n’ roll, country and blues. Now, he’s sharing his talents in the Spokane area to benefit the community.

“That’s what Christmas is all about for me,” he said.

His wife, Karen Groth, has done much of the behind-the-scenes work for the fundraisers, cooking, creating fliers to advertise the events, and helping her husband develop his set list.

“We so enjoy it,” Groth said. “It gives your heart a nice, warm feeling.”

She said they want to help ease the burden bureau recipients face, especially during the holidays.

“They’re working, they’re paying their bills, but there’s not a lot left over,” she said.

Groth hopes people will attend the lasagna dinner and dance to “support the local community and give back to those who are less fortunate.”

Fred Preston, an Aerie member and a dedicated, longtime Christmas Bureau volunteer, initially spread awareness among the Spokane Valley Eagles about the bureau and those it serves.

“It’s awesome,” Preston said of the bureau. “What better way could we celebrate a holiday? I don’t know. I love it.”

The bureau, organized by Catholic Charities Spokane and Volunteers of America, provides new toys, books and grocery store vouchers for thousands of low-income individuals and families.

Last year, the bureau served 27,410 individuals in need, including 14,683 children.

Donations to the Christmas Fund make it all possible. Contributions of any size are appreciated.


Geraldine Fait, of Spokane, gave $10,000 in memory of Fred Fait.

Pathology Associates Medical Laboratories and its employees gave $4,405.50, with a note that said in part, “We would like to take this opportunity to share a one-time direct donation in support of the excellent work done by organizations like yours that support the community.”

Scott and Shannon Sevigny, of Spokane, gave $1,200.

The Sons of Norway gave $600.

Orval and Anita Janssen, of Spokane, gave $250.

Timothy and Marcia Dorwin, of Spokane Valley, gave $200.

Zoe Ann Foltz gave $200, writing, “In loving memory of John Foltz, husband, dad, grampa and friend.”

An anonymous donor gave $200 in loving memory of Daphne Adams, noting that Christmas was her favorite time of the year. The donor wrote, “She donated to the Christmas Fund for many years, and it is an honor for me to continue the tradition.”

Don Lombardini gave $200 in honor of Bill Kuch via PayPal.

Jim and Barbara Groves, of Spokane, gave $100, writing, “Thank you to all your workers for the hours they put in. Please, accept this check to help with the many families.”

John and Jody Beck, of Spokane Valley, gave $100.

An anonymous donor gave $100.

Heather Sullivan gave $100 via PayPal, as did David Rorden.

Mabel Morrison, of Spokane, gave $100, writing, “Thanks again for organizing the Christmas Fund.”

An anonymous donor gave $75 via PayPal.

Debby Golonka gave $50 via PayPal, as well as Theophil Otto.

Niki Weatherly gave $25 via PayPal.

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