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Spokane Indians net nearly 100 stuffed animals for Christmas Bureau

Otto Klein, senior vice president of the Spokane Indians, poses for a photo with stuffed animals the Indians collected for the Christmas Bureau on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018, outside Avista Stadium in Spokane, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Otto Klein, senior vice president of the Spokane Indians, poses for a photo with stuffed animals the Indians collected for the Christmas Bureau on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018, outside Avista Stadium in Spokane, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

The Spokane Indians added a teddy bear toss to their Christmas in July game night this past summer, collecting nearly 100 stuffed animals for the Christmas Bureau.

The idea came together only a week before the event and had little promotion, said Indians Senior Vice President Otto Klein.

“For the first year, I think that’s a success for us,” he said.

The Spokane Chiefs hockey team holds a yearly teddy bear toss, with thousands of bears tossed onto the ice after the Chiefs make their first goal. This year’s toss is Saturday.

“We’re the same organization,” Klein said. “We borrowed the idea, if you will, from the Chiefs. We wanted to add a charity element to that night.”

The Indians have held their Christmas in July event for years. Santa comes for pictures and the team puts up holiday decorations and plays Christmas music.

“Having the theme night in the summer is fun for us,” Klein said. “Family-oriented events are critical for us.”

In the interest of keeping them clean, people didn’t actually toss their stuffed animals on the baseball field. After the baseball game was over, anyone who had a stuffed animal to donate was invited on the field and given the chance to run the bases before tossing their animal into a box.

“We kind of had more of a trot than a toss,” Klein said.

Usually only children are given the chance to come onto the field for special events, but for the teddy bear event, adults were allowed on the field as well.

“One of the most special things about coming to a baseball game is touching the grass,” he said. “This caters to the whole family.”

Some people only heard about the teddy bear toss when they arrived at the game and hurried to the team gift shop to buy stuffed versions of the Otto and Ribby mascots so they could participate, Klein said.

Klein said the teddy bear trot will be back next year and there will be plenty of time to promote the event and collect more stuffed animals.

“It’s going to grow,” he said. “Our involvement in the Christmas Bureau is important to us.”


New donations to the Christmas Bureau are on the rise, with today’s tally of $4,756 bringing the year-to-date total to $88,714.04. There’s still quite a ways to go to get to the goal of $525,000 to provide food vouchers, toys and books for families for Christmas.

Thomas and Colleen Tracy, of Hayden, contributed $500. “Merry Christmas to all those supporting the Christmas Fund, all those served by it and all the volunteers who make it possible,” they wrote.

An anonymous donor from Valleyford sent $500, writing “Thanks for all the good you and your volunteers do.”

The Krause family of Spokane donated $250. An anonymous Spokane donor contributed $250 via Pay Pal. Lois Richards, of Spokane, gave $200. “I am upping my annual donation by $25 this year to $200 in response to the poor start you are having in getting donations,” she wrote. Judith and Jon Gardner, of Spokane, sent $200 via PayPal.

William and Barbara Spencer, of Spokane Valley, gave $150. Alan Eppinger, of Spokane, contributed $110.

John and Charlotte Sullivan, of Honolulu, donated $100 in memory of Opal and Charles McCoy. The Fox family of Spokane donated $100. “Thank you for all you do for families in our community!” they wrote. Enid Sagvold, of Spokane, gave $100, as did Randi O’Brien, of Spokane. An anonymous Spokane donor gave $100, as did an anonymous Veradale donor.

Rae Charlton, of Sandpoint, contributed $100, as did Patricia Hostetter, of Nine Mile Falls. Jennifer and Howie Stalwick, of Spokane, donated $100. “Thanks for all you do, this and every year,” they wrote. “Please accept our annual donation in honor of Jennifer’s wonderful parents, Lois and Vern Thomason, who were longtime volunteers with the Christmas Fund.”

Michael and Sandra Povich, Sandra Fiksdal, Jessie Norris, and Nadine Rogalette, all of Spokane, each gave $100. Keith and Sara Gehr, of Spokane, donated $100, as did Sally and Walter Bonsack, of Spokane Valley. Robert Bly, of Newman Lake, donated $100 “in loving memory of my beautiful wife, Barbara Bly.”

John and Kathleen Olsufka, of Spokane, gave $100. Shirley Dicus donated $100 via PayPal. Lois Albert, of Spokane Valley, donated $100.

Billy and Sheila Hannold, of Colbert, contributed $75.

John Hopper and W.T. Ardiss, both of Spokane, each donated $50. Mary and and Tom Christensen, of Spokane, sent in $50 along with a note addressed to the Christmas Fund helpers. “Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and lots of luck in meeting your goal this year!” they wrote. “Thank you for your great work!”

Jeffrey and Judy Koons, of Spokane, contributed $50. An anonymous donor sent $50 via PayPal, writing “Merry Christmas to all – may everyone experience the magic of the season.” Marlene Peters, of Spokane, gave $50. Laurel Powell sent $50 via PayPal, as did Melia Langdon of Cheney. Mike Wilson, Ian Bray, of Spokane, and Mary Palmer each donated $50 via PayPal.

An anonymous Spokane donor gave $25, as did Carol McKenny of Spokane. Richard Proszek donated $20 via PayPal. An anonymous donor contributed $1 via PayPal.

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

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