The Christmas Fund has reached its goal for the last 11 years in a row, but it’s often a close call, and at the last minute.
Organizers are hopeful this year that donors in the Spokane community step up yet again to help make Christmas a little merrier for thousands of less fortunate families.
The Christmas Fund needs to reach at least $525,000 to pay for the new gifts, books and food vouchers that are distributed at the Christmas Bureau each year.
“That goal is important for the bureau,” said bureau organizer Judy Lee, with Catholic Charities Spokane. “That is what we need to keep running the bureau.”
Lee said the fund often doesn’t reach that goal until the very end of the year.
“That makes us nervous, but the community comes through for us, and I’m always impressed at the range of donors and donations,” she said.
Donations range from a few dollars given by children, to thousands of dollars given by individuals, companies or groups that have held fundraisers, “and everything in between,” Lee said.
For example, Sally Poutiatine, of Spokane Valley, gave $270, with a note that said, “enclosed please find a check for funds raised at 16-year-old Hailey Poutiatine’s annual Christmas Eve concert for her family! It’s a long-standing holiday tradition. Thank you for making the holiday merrier for so many.”
The bureau takes place Dec. 8-17 at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center.
The Spokesman-Review operates the Christmas Fund, recognizing donors in the newspaper during the holiday season. The money raised through the Christmas Fund is handed over to Catholic Charities of Spokane and Volunteers of America, which operate the Christmas Bureau.
More than 1,200 contributors gave to the 2015 Christmas Fund, raising a total of $526,172.65.
That money helped thousands of individuals and families who were struggling.
At the Christmas Bureau, anyone who feels they are in need can receive a grocery store gift certificate ranging from $15 to $30, depending on household size. It’s meant to buy ingredients for a special holiday meal. Parents also get to choose a quality gift to give each child in their house 17 and under, and children 14 and under also receive a new book. Those without children receive candy and winter gloves, in addition to the gift certificate.
The average reported monthly income for 2015 Christmas Bureau recipients was $1,188. There are no geographic boundaries for recipients and no income verification.
Hundreds of volunteers give their time to keep administrative costs low, so the vast majority of donations go directly to support those in need.
After the 2015 Christmas Fund check was presented to Catholic Charities Spokane and Volunteers of America, the community gave donations totaling $28,919.88 over the year to kick off the 2016 Fund.
While the fund is off to a good start, Lee said, “We have a long ways to go to meet our goal.”
Lee wants the community to know that every little bit counts when it comes to spreading Christmas cheer.
“Any donation amount helps,” she said. “It all adds up.”
Other donations received since the close of the 2015 Christmas Fund include the following:
Bernardo Wills Architects gave $2,500 with a note that said, in part, “This year, rather than send corporate gifts of fruit or candy that are eaten and quickly forgotten, we wanted our gift to have a more lasting effect. During this particularly difficult season for many in our community, thank you for operating the Christmas Bureau and providing holiday cheer and blessings to struggling families.”
The Scott Family, of Spokane, gave $2,000.
The Charlie & Kathy Watson Fund gave $1,000 via the Inland Northwest Community Foundation.
Donald Pearson, of Spokane, gave $1,000.
James Kay gave $1,000 via PayPal.
Ibex Flooring LLC gave $750.
Rick Betts gave $687.51 via Spokane County United Way.
John and P.A. Russell, of Spokane Valley, gave $600 with a note that said “thank you to the Bureau and all the volunteers who make it possible to share our good fortune with those who are in need.”
Robert and Sharon Arnold, of Deer Park, gave $500.
Donald and Charlotte Butler, of Hope, Idaho, gave $500.
The Richard & Connie Stacey Donor-Advised Fund gave $400 via the Inland Northwest Community Foundation.
Keith Kadel gave $375 via PayPal.
Lee Pivonka gave $342.76 via PayPal.
K.G. Redlin Properties gave $300.
Keith Comes, of Spokane, gave $300.
Eric Johnson, of Spokane, gave $200.
Theresa and Paul Giordanella, of Spokane, gave $200.
Chris and Adina Eichorst, of Spokane, gave $200.
Kenneth Hill gave $200 via PayPal.
Hilda Boyd and Cathleen Walter gave $100 in memory of Ronald G. Walter, with a note that said “may all the volunteers who dedicate their time and effort to this worthwhile cause for the less fortunate be blessed with peace and joy always.”
George and Michelene Weisbarth, of Newport, gave $100, as did Nancy Mahoney, of Spokane.
Jerry and Joan White gave $100 via their estate trust.
Karen Harrington, of Spokane, gave $100, with a note that said, in part, “I have worked at the Christmas Bureau for the past seven years. So much fun and I enjoy meeting the other volunteers.”
Michael and Laurel Nissley, of Spokane, gave $100.
Dennis Pollock at Park Place Construction gave $100, with a note that said “A little after-Christmas cheer. Thanks for a great job.”
Vernon Winkle gave $100 via PayPal, as did Toni Nersesian, Allan Bumgardner and Karen Loucks.
An anonymous donor gave $100.
Hope Rebekah Lodge #38 gave $75.
Edith Coleman, of Spokane, gave $50.
Erlinda Fry, of Spokane, gave $50, with a note that said “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all! God bless you all!”
Patricia Earley and Ken Yuhasz, of Spokane, gave $50.
Margaret Muat gave $50 via PayPal, as did Dean Nagel.
Duanning Zhou gave $30 via PayPal.
Glenda Lindsay, of Spokane, gave $10, as did Marva Goede, of Spokane Valley.
Lowell and Martha Lehman, of Spokane, gave $10, with a note that said, in part, “you do such good work.”
Judith Horton, of Coeur d’Alene, gave $5.
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