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Rush of donations pushes Christmas Fund over goal

Volunteer Nancy Wendelburg, left, greets 1-year-old Noah Goldy and she prepares to bag the gifts of Michael Goldy, right, Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, at the Christmas Bureau at the Spokane Fair and Expo Center. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Volunteer Nancy Wendelburg, left, greets 1-year-old Noah Goldy and she prepares to bag the gifts of Michael Goldy, right, Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, at the Christmas Bureau at the Spokane Fair and Expo Center. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
By Chelsea Bannach Correspondent

Once again, the Spokane community has banded together to provide assistance, joy and dignity to those less fortunate during the holiday season.

A flood of donations over the past week meant good news for The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund, which surpassed its 2016 goal by thousands of dollars.

Businesses and individuals in the region gave $540,073.39 in support of the fund, which pays for the Christmas Bureau, an annual event providing books, toys and grocery vouchers to thousands of families who need help making ends meet.

“Spokane has always been a generous and loving community that takes care of its own,” said Fawn Schott, president and CEO of Volunteers of America of Eastern Washington & Northern Idaho.

Those contributions ranged in size from $5 to $35,000, and came from 1,392 donors from the Inland Northwest and beyond.

The money raised through The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund was presented Friday to representatives from Catholic Charities Spokane and Volunteers of America. Those nonprofits organize the Bureau, and the successful and long-lasting partnership helps the Bureau happen year after year.

“As partners, we believe in this work,” said Susan Foster-Dow, vice president for mission and strategy at Catholic Charities Spokane. “That’s some powerful work that’s happening.”

The 2016 fund was often down compared to the same time last year, and at times it was uncertain whether the goal would be met, but the faithfully generous community again made the massive undertaking an unparalleled success.

“It’s really an honor to say our community cares enough about those less fortunate,” Foster-Dow said.

Organizers said the amount donated over the goal is a “blessing,” and provides some extra room in the account should they have more recipients next year, or some unexpected need.

This year, the Bureau assisted 26,012 people in 7,540 households. That number includes 13,786 children who might not have had much of a Christmas without the Bureau.

The Bureau depends on community members to donate their time, treasure and talent, and is mostly operated by volunteers.

“It was a huge success,” Schott said.

New donations

Jensen Distribution Services gave $5,540.

Acme Concrete Paving Inc. gave $5,425.

Huppin’s Hi-Fi Photo and Video gave $3,707, writing, “This marks the 20th consecutive year that the owners and employees have contributed to The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund. It is a tradition and privilege for us to share our blessings and add to the warmth and spirit of our community. Thank you to the newspaper for making it easy to participate by providing the framework for recipients, donors and volunteers to come together.”

Hal R. Dixon, of Spokane, gave $3,000.

JMA Commercial Real Estate gave $1,500, writing, in part, “During this holiday season, in lieu of giving gifts to our clients, customers, and tenants of the buildings we manage, we are making this donation on their behalf. We truly appreciate your efforts every year to provide as many local families as possible the means to have a happy holiday season.”

The following donors gave $1,000 each: Kenneth and Sharon Roberts; Andi and Craig Hart; James and Jean Moore; Lukins & Annis Attorneys; Allan Moorhead, via PayPal; Keith and Jane Slater, in memory of Trevor Winters; an anonymous donor; and Jo Anne Burke, of Nine Mile Falls, who wrote, “So very fortunate and blessed. In memory of my husband, Jim Burke.”

The following donors gave $500: John Parker, via PayPal; an anonymous donor, via PayPal; Larry and Mary Soehren, via PayPal; Lisa Stagaman, via PayPal; Promenade Lofts #504, via PayPal; JoAnn and Richard Dixon, of Spokane Valley; and Tom and Molly Beil, via PayPal, writing, “Happy to help!”

Dennis and Donna Kelly gave $500 via PayPal, in memory of Don Kelly, a longtime Christmas Bureau volunteer.

An anonymous donor gave $500, writing, “Blessings to The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund for all the good you do in our community.” Florence Wood, of Spokane, also gave $500, “in honor of all the wonderful veterans of the Spokane Veterans Home.”

Kay Cobb gave $500, writing, “Thanks to all involved in making Christmas better for so many. I’d like to donate $500 in memory of my sons, Tim and Todd. I’d like to pass on my love of them to others. Blessings to you all.”

William and Andrea Kerr gave $450.

An anonymous donor gave $400, writing, “It makes me so happy to be able to be a little bit helpful for those who need it. God bless you for all the work you do for them.” The O’Kert Family also gave $400 via PayPal, as did another anonymous donor.

Thomas Consulting gave $300, writing, “On behalf of the design community we serve, architects, engineers, and contractors we work with throughout the Inland Northwest, we give this contribution to your fund. Thank you for making the effort every year to reach out to those in need among us. We are always aware that happiness and financial security is not guaranteed. There is no better time to share than at Christmas!”

The following donors also gave $300: Ruth and Gene Rayman, of Spokane; Harry Fuhs, of Spokane; Jean Jalufka, via PayPal; William Dinneen, of Spokane; Driscoll One Stop; and an anonymous donor.

The following donors gave $250: An anonymous donor, via PayPal; Steve and Theresa Helmbrecht; Shelly Kuney, via PayPal; James Braukmann, via PayPal; Patrick Murray, via PayPal; Michael Jensen; Bruce Howard, via PayPal; Sharon Eakins; Robert Morozzo, of Loon Lake, in memory of Donna Morozzo; another anonymous donor; and Shawna, Randy, Ryan and Rylee Russell, via PayPal, writing, “In honor and memory of our loving father, Gary L. McLaughlin. We love and miss you Dad and Grandpa.”

Amy Flowers gave $200 via PayPal, in memory of Belva Flowers and Loraine Bahr. Katherine West also gave $200 via PayPal, writing, “Thank you to everyone who makes the Christmas Fund possible. Blessings from the West Family.”

Dick and C.J. Schmidt, of Loon Lake, gave $200, writing, “Instead of Christmas shopping for my adult grandkids, this year I’m giving to the Christmas Bureau in hopes other families may have a brighter Christmas.”

Other $200 donors: A.K. and S.A. Katsaris, of Spokane; The Roy Davis family and Gus, of Spokane; Robert and Lauri Seghetti; Skip and Michelle White; Patrick and Patricia Sprute, of Spokane; Thomas Caldwell, in memory of loved ones; an anonymous donor, via PayPal; Russell Cornell, via PayPal, on behalf of Ardith Divine; Russell Cornell, via PayPal, on behalf of Sue and Duke Cornell; Charles Carrier, via PayPal; Steven and Marcy Gourde; Arthur and Marilynn Sturdevant; Paul and Elizabeth Kennar; Carolyn Bleeker, of Spokane, in honor of her parents, Wally and Luella Dow; Linda Tetrault, of Cocolalla, Idaho; Al and Sandy Fruetel, of Mead;

Wayne Bass; Scott and Saran Creighton, of Spokane Valley; Ed and Linda Summerhill, of Spokane Valley; Tom and Jonell Edlin, of Spokane Valley;

The Stripes Family, of Spokane, in memory of Richard Stripes;

David and JoAnn Schwatz, of Spokane, gave $200, writing, “Thank you for giving hundreds of children a Christmas they would not have had this year. In memory of Alex, who didn’t have a chance to experience Christmas.”

Tish Sawyer gave $200, writing, “Thank you and the volunteers for caring and all the hard work it takes to make this happen. It makes me proud to live in Spokane.”

Fred and Gloria Vogel, of Usk, Washington, gave $200, writing, “In memory of our 6-year-old son, Vincent, who died in a fire that destroyed our home on Dec. 22, 1977.”

The Gill family, of Spokane, gave $160, writing, “In honor of our parents, Don and Vi Ward, and Alton and Ethel Gill, who taught us the meaning of Christmas.”

William Franks gave $150 via PayPal, writing, “Thank you for making the spirit of a Merry Christmas come alive.”

Roseann Lemberger, of Spokane, also gave $150, writing, “This donation to the Christmas Fund is a shout out to all my fellow volunteers at the 2016 bureau. May 2017 be joyful and peaceful for all,” as did LeAnn Alden-Merkel, of Spokane, in memory of her dad, Jack Alden.

Brant and Naomi Hall, of Spokane, gave $150, writing, “Thank you for all you do to help the people of Spokane. Wishing all a blessed New Year and happy holidays.”

Other $150 donors: Joseph Henscheid, via PayPal; Dale Soden, via PayPal; Guy March, of Spokane Valley; Donald Gale Jr., of Spokane; Cristophe and Karen Sherfe, of Spokane; Michael Pearson; Brian and Christine Cronin; Brad Ennis and Terren Roloff; Michael and Mitze Vesecky; and two separate anonymous donors.

Colleen Striegel gave $147 via PayPal.

Jesse C. Zumbro gave $140.

Jean Jalufka gave $130 via PayPal.

An anonymous donor gave $110, in memory of Dorothy Gordon.

Those who gave $100: Joyce Andrews, via PayPal; seven separate anonymous donors, via PayPal; Marilyn J. Laugen, via PayPal; Barbara K. Kogler, via PayPal; Frank Neeri, via PayPal; Lawrence Luton, via PayPal; Diana M. Trotter, via PayPal; Hope and Gary Roszell; George Weisbarth, of Newport, Washington; Deborah DeMars, of Spokane; Warren and Beverly Flath, of Spokane Valley; Jack and Mary Ashlock, of Spokane; Michael and Carol Nissley, of Spokane; Ruth and Brian Sullivan; Alexis Nelson; Benjamin Jagelski, via PayPal; Stephanie Klein, via PayPal; Michael Wiser, via PayPal; Virginia Pounds, via PayPal; Gloria Marshall, via PayPal; Louis Haymond, via PayPal; Mark Gustafson, via PayPal; Danielle Burton-Williams, via PayPal; Michael Henneberry, via PayPal; Lori Dixon, via PayPal; Rob and Barb Higgins, via PayPal; Ronna J. Ricco, via PayPal; Dianna and Gale Morasch, of Spokane; Richard and Catherine Greiner, of Spokane Valley; Evie Johnson, of Spokane; Rose Veach, of Spokane; Matt and Keirsten Lyons, of Spokane; David Lane, via PayPal; Calvin and Eileen Riemcke, of Spokane; Lois Stratton, of Spokane; Patricia Gunderson, of Spokane; George and Judy Bacon, of Spokane Valley; Donald Savage; Brian and Melinda Trudeau; Jennifer Brandt; the Rettenmund family, of Spokane; Phillip Jones and Christina Marino, of Spokane; Michael and Tambra, of Spokane Valley; Marilyn and Ray Riches, of Spokane; Charles and Mary Kerr, of Spokane; Ellen Krehbiel and Jeff Wasson, of Colbert; Thomas and Jennifer Michaels, of Deer Park; Raymond Siegel; Charles and Barbara Hinzman, of Coeur d’Alene; Paul and Deloris Christopher, of Greenacres; Dottie and Pat Kenney Sr., of Spokane; Marie Linquist, of Spokane; Richard and Shirley McGee, of Spokane; Mark and Carol Messier, of Spokane; Cozy Coffee, in Greenacres; John and Kay Feirich, of Spokane; Karen Byrne, of Spokane; Janet Walker and Kathleen Hull, of Colbert; Brian Jackey; Dale B. Ehrmantrout; Raland and Cynthia John; and Jarold Cartwright, via PayPal, writing, “In memory of Hugh Evans, my friend and an American hero.”

Lydia Vila, also gave $100 via PayPal, writing, “In honor of the Hatch and Hanley families of Spokane Valley, we love you guys!”

Randy and Jerrie Allard, of Nine Mile Falls, gave $100, writing, “Thank you for providing this great service to our community. This donation is in honor of Dennis, Dianne, and Chris Allard, who we have lost during 2016. Peace and blessings to the amazing staff and volunteers that put in so many hours to make the Christmas Bureau a reality.”

One anonymous donor in Spokane gave $100, writing, “The Christmas Fund gave great joy to my daughter and her six children after she was abandoned. I have been helping her all these years along with this wonderful Spokane community. It’s time to give back and say thank you.”

L. Hughs, of Spokane, gave $80, writing, “I am so glad that the Spokane community is a place that helps the less fortunate like we do. My prayers are for all those who help the Christmas Bureau every year. Thank you!”

The following donors gave $75: Marion Moos, of Spokane; Thomas and Elaine Pitzer; an anonymous donor, via PayPal; Marian Ortiz, via PayPal; Hope Rebekah Lodge #38; and Patrick D. Grady.

Shirley A. Schoenleber, of Spokane, gave $65.

The following donors gave $50: Larry and Darcy Reichert, of Spokane; John and Connie Overdorff, of Otis Orchards; Jennifer Calvert, via PayPal; Becky Menzel, via PayPal; Mike Yake, of Coeur d’Alene, Andrea and Grant Van Steenkist, of Spokane Valley; Marlene Peters; Kenneth Thompson, via PayPal; Pete Weller, via PayPal; Patrick Ferrell, via PayPal; Christine Bieker, of Spokane, inspired by her friend, Leslie, who volunteers at the Christmas Bureau every year; Dorothy Carter, of Spokane; M. and Martha Breneman, of Spokane; Bill Smith, of Newport; Rose Marie Rogers, of Spokane Valley, in memory of Dale Rogers; Freida Johnson, of Spokane; David and Anne Hedge; and seven anonymous donors.

Amber Juliano also gave $50, via PayPal, writing, “In honor of our beloved Tono.”

Susan J. Persyn, of Priest River, Idaho, gave $45, writing, “In remembrance of Auzzie Watson. He would have been 45 this year. He died at 4 years old. He loved to give.”

David Hargreaves gave $40 via PayPal. Rocky Sharp, of Spokane Valley, also gave $40.

Richard Garcia gave $30 via PayPal.

The following donors gave $25: Susan Hardy, via PayPal; Marilyn Lloyd, via PayPal; Joi Anderson, via PayPal; Dawn Abernathy, of Spokane; Jeanette Woodard; Jacklyn Waite, via PayPal; Donald Schultz, via PayPal; Thomas Richardson, via PayPal; Nancy Wilkens; Dorothy Backlund, of Spokane; Colleen Warner, of Spokane; Larry Hood, of Pullman;

An anonymous donor gave $25, writing, “Thank you for your annual work to brighten Christmas for those who might otherwise not know the true meaning of Christmas.” Another anonymous donor also gave $25.

Rand and Nadine Pratt, of Spokane, gave $25, writing, “To all Christmas Bureau volunteers. Thank you for the time and dedication you spend in helping those in need. May our donation be a small part in all the joyful hope you bring to others.”

An anonymous donor gave $20, as did Cheryl Morrissey, of Spokane, and Eric and Chato Barro.

Donna Bergeron gave $15 via PayPal.

John Hudde, of Colville, gave $10.76.

Dennis Hicks gave $10.00 via PayPal.

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

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