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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Mom looks to Christmas Bureau for help with 11 children

Eli Maldonado, right, at age 18 is too old to receive a Christmas gift from the Christmas Bureau, carries toys for his many siblings from a blended family of 11 kids, with his mother Janet DeLeon, left, at the Bureau Monday, Dec. 11, 2017. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Eli Maldonado, right, at age 18 is too old to receive a Christmas gift from the Christmas Bureau, carries toys for his many siblings from a blended family of 11 kids, with his mother Janet DeLeon, left, at the Bureau Monday, Dec. 11, 2017. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
By Nina Culver The Spokesman-Review

Janet DeLeon had a long shopping list when she arrived at the Christmas Bureau first thing Monday morning. After all, she was shopping for 11 children.

She was intent on providing a good Christmas for all the kids in her blended family. Her youngest is about to turn 5 and wouldn’t understand if there was nothing on Christmas morning, DeLeon said.

“It would break my heart if they woke up and there was nothing,” she said.

DeLeon is disabled and her husband is also unable to work. Surgery to remove a brain tumor left her with hydrocephalus, also known as water on the brain. She has a shunt permanently installed to drain the excess fluid from her head.

“It’s hard sometimes,” she said. “The biggest part for me is for my kids to have what they need.”

She brought one of her sons, 18-year-old Eli Maldonado, with her Monday to help pick out and carry gifts for his siblings. Maldonado immediately zeroed in on a My Little Pony castle for one of his younger sisters. “She would be all over that,” he said.

As DeLeon continued to shop, Maldonado’s arms filled with boxes until the top one was balanced against his chin. “I’m good,” he said, walking carefully.

A volunteer quickly appeared to help Maldonado carry his stack of precious cargo off to the side while DeLeon continued to shop. She picked out a truck for a younger child and some Axe body spray gift kits for her teenage sons.

“They have everything a boy wants,” she said of the body spray kits.

DeLeon said she’s been coming to the Christmas Bureau for three years, ever since she heard about it at one of her children’s schools. Before that she would try to do the best she could by shopping at Value Village or the Dollar Store to get presents. She said she’s always been impressed at the quality of the toys offered at the Christmas Bureau.

“It’s awesome,” she said. “I love this place. You can’t go to any other place and get stuff like they have here.”


New donations for the Christmas Bureau total $10,369. With less than two weeks to go until Christmas, the Bureau has raised $186,659.95 of the $525,000 needed to pay for the food vouchers, toys and food being handed out every day.

A check for $7,200 came from Frank’s Diner and The Onion Taphouse and Grill. All year the employees have donations for the Christmas Bureau deducted from their paychecks, and this year they gave $3,600. The owners of the restaurants – Ken and Christy Belisle and Larry and Jan Brown – matched the money raised by their employees.

“It has been our pleasure to contribute to The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund efforts for more than 35 years,” they wrote in a letter. “May your organizations and business efforts be continually blessed.”

An anonymous donor gave $500 in honor of “kids and their families less fortunate than Spencer and Nathan.” Michael and Carol Wilson also donated $500.

Kathy, Scot and Trudy Huggins of Spokane donated $250 in memory of Chuck Huggins and Ron Huggins, both of whom died this year. Christine Carroll of Spokane sent $250 along with a note that said: “May the spirit and love at Christmas time continue every day in 2018. There is so much to be grateful for. May everyone help where ever they can.”

Chris and Jonnie Schroeder of Spokane donated $200 in honor of their grandchildren, Ryan and Lillian. An anonymous Spokane donor gave $200. Eileen Thorpe of Spokane donated $200, as did Angela Young of Spokane.

Don and Stephanie Forshag of Surprise, Arizona, donated $130 in memory of Dorothy Gordon. The Dix family of Spokane donated $100. “Thank you to all who volunteer at the Christmas Bureau to make Christmas brighter for so many,” they wrote. “Merry Christmas. God bless.”

Stephen and Debra Piper of Spokane contributed $100, as did an anonymous Spokane donor. Jim and Dixie Moore of Mead gave $100 in honor of their parents, Steve and Inez Moore and Bill and Laura Hardt. Scott Huff of Kingwood, Texas, gave $100. Corinne Hirst of Spokane contributed $100. “You do such great work,” she wrote. “Merry Christmas.”

Peter and Beth Weller of Spokane donated $50. “Thank you once again for sponsoring this wonderful gift of giving,” they wrote. “It warms our hearts to help in this small monetary way!”

Cecile LaFountain of Spokane Valley sent $35. Scott and Barbara McArthur gave $25, as did Elaine and E.J. Foerster. Christina Karistan of Spokane donated $4.

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