Arby’s Director of Operations Jerry Pederson has been volunteering with the Christmas Bureau for 16 years, ever since he was recruited by his boss, Dave McGann.
McGann owns four Arby’s locations in Spokane and his restaurant at 10407 E. Sprague Ave. makes lunch for 100 volunteers every day the Bureau is open. Pederson said McGann started providing the lunches about 20 years ago and then began volunteering himself.
“I was recruited by Dave a year or two after he started,” Pederson said.
He usually works four or five shifts every year. “For me, it’s one of the things that I do that sets my heart in the right mood for the season,” he said. “Once I sit down out there on the first day, I know why I’m there. I’m there to serve.”
When Pederson was little, his mom was a single mother to him and his five brothers for several years. When he sees single mothers come through his line, it strikes a chord.
“There was a box that would come every year from the church full of presents because she couldn’t afford to buy them,” he said of his childhood. “It just takes me back.”
Pederson said he’s always surprised that not many he meets know about the Christmas Bureau. “I think the Christmas Bureau is such an amazing organization that so few people know about,” he said. “It’s the quiet work that they do that serves so many people.”
He usually works on the computers, where he verifies people’s information and gives them a food voucher. The amount of the voucher varies depending on family size, but the maximum amount is $30. Pederson said he is always struck by how much that voucher means to people and how grateful they are for it.
“To me, that’s amazing,” he said. “I never have to worry about where my next $5 or $30 is coming from.”
Pederson said it’s hard to explain what it is that keeps bringing him back year after year.
“There is such a great need for the working poor in the community,” he said. “Most of us would never know who they are around us. We are all one medical crisis away from needing help at Christmas, one car repair.”
New donations of $1,760 have brought the fund a little closer to the $525,000 goal. The year-to-date total is now $75,875.04.
The Assistants volunteer group donated $500. “We are a group of 45 women who volunteer our time and raise money to promote, inspire and assist in the development and progress of education, art, literature, music and other civic endeavors in the community of Spokane,” they wrote.
Steve and Lorrie McNutt, of Spokane, contributed $500. An anonymous Spokane donor gave $250.
Naomi and Steve McReynolds, of Valley, Washington, donated $100 via Pay Pal. “I am donating this in memory of my daughter-in-law, who passed away 11/17/18,” she wrote. “Her loving spirit for family was so huge that it is only fitting to help the Christmas Fund give our area families a happy Christmas.”
Nelson and Nancy Heisey, of Spokane, gave $100, as did Fred and Lianne Inaba,of Pullman. Jeanne and Judd Case, of Spokane, contributed $100. Melanie and Harley Reckord, of Spokane, donated $100.
Cheryl Hicks, of Moses Lake, sent $10 via Pay Pal. “We used the Christmas Fund almost 30 years ago,” she wrote. “Wanting to repay some of that.”
For donations made through PayPal, The Spokesman-Review contributed the processing fee.
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