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Retired priest Mike Savelesky ready to volunteer at Christmas Bureau

The Rev. Mike Savelesky is photographed Thursday, Dec.6, 2018, at Assumption Catholic Church. He is a retired priest who still volunteers at the Christmas Bureau a few days every year. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
The Rev. Mike Savelesky is photographed Thursday, Dec.6, 2018, at Assumption Catholic Church. He is a retired priest who still volunteers at the Christmas Bureau a few days every year. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

The Rev. Mike Savelesky will volunteer at the Christmas Bureau this year, just as he’s done for the last dozen years or so.

He isn’t certain when he began volunteering, but said it doesn’t matter.

“It’s not something you do for a badge or a year pin – you do it for the community,” he said.

Savelesky is a retired Catholic priest, though he still leads the parishes in Rosalia and St. John. But when he volunteers at the bureau, he wears regular clothing and his name tag has only his first name. No one knows he is a priest, and Savelesky said he likes to be an anonymous helper.

He started volunteering when he was the parish priest at Assumption Catholic Church on Indian Trail Road. He and his staff were discussing how better to help the poor and needy and someone suggested volunteering at the Christmas Bureau.

“It was a brilliant idea,” he said. “The whole staff went out as a group.”

Though he left Assumption years ago, Savelesky kept putting in time at the bureau.

“I just kept doing it,” he said “It’s spiritually addicting. It just gets into your blood.”

Every year, he volunteers at the computer stations, where people are checked in and their information is verified. Savelesky said he makes an effort to treat everyone kindly and call them by their name.

“It’s the call of the gospel to care for the poor and the needy,” he said.

Savelesky said it’s important to him that he show up in person and not just write a check.

“It gives you a chance to understand poverty, the face of poverty in our community,” he said.

He usually volunteers at least three days while the bureau is open, but this year he only got two days in.

“I’m a little disappointed,” he said. “I’d love to serve more.”

Savelesky said he is in awe of the volunteers who have been there much longer than he has. But if he keeps going, he’ll soon be one of the old hands, and he has every intention of returning again and again.

“It’s an opportunity that anchors the calendar,” he said.


An increased number of donations landed in the mailbox, bringing in $6,380 toward the goal of $525,000. The year-to-date total has gone up to $95,094.04.

An anonymous Spokane Valley donor gave $600, writing, “Thank you for your dedicated work.” Brian Hawkins sent $500 via PayPal.

An anonymous Spokane donor gave $500 in memory of Don Kelly, “who for years donated his time and talents so that others could enjoy a brighter Christmas.” The Dorian Photography Studio of Spokane donated $500. “We hope this helps put a smile on someone’s face,” they wrote.

Bob and Debbie Glaza, of Spokane Valley, donated $300. Charles and Kathleen Teegarden, of Spokane, gave $250 in memory of Dan Sullivan “who enjoyed volunteering for the Christmas Bureau as part of his holiday tradition.”

John Barber, of Spokane, donated $200. An anonymous Spokane donor gave $200, writing, “This donation is made in loving memory of Daphne Adams, for whom Christmas season was her favorite time of year. She donated to the Christmas Fund for many years, and it is an honor for me to continue the tradition.”

Zoe Foltz, of Spokane, contributed $200. Candi and Jerold Vincent, of Newman Lake, gave $200. “I hope this can help a little so that other may have a better Christmas!” they wrote. “Thank you for all you do. Have a Merry Christmas!”

Kathy, Scot and Trudy Huggins, of Spokane, donated $200 in memory of Chuck and Ron Huggins and Don Cagle. Sharon Matthews gave $200 via PayPal. John and Donna Leaming, of Spokane, contributed $150.

Sondra and Kenneth Goodner, of Four Lakes, sent $100. Colleen Kruse, of Spokane, gave $100, as did Dianna and Gale Morasch, of Spokane, and Richard and Karen Steele, of Spokane. An anonymous Spokane donor gave $100. Don and Creta Kunz, of Spokane, donated $100.

Steven and Wanda Daehlin, of Spokane, donated $100. Donald Vinson, of Medical Lake, sent $100. Dean and Mary Duncan gave $100. “We’ll be in the toy area,” they wrote. “Love volunteering every year. Blessings to all.”

Gary and Cheryl Allen, of Spokane Valley, contributed $100. Judith Young, of Honolulu, Andrew Biggs, of Spokane, and David Hall each gave $100 via PayPal.

Mary Benham, of Spokane, donated $80. “Thank you for setting this up!” she wrote. “Important work!” Dorene Bailey, of Spokane, gave $75. “I went to work for the Spokane Daily Chronicle in 1954 in the circulation department,” she wrote. “Great place to work. Loved it.”

An anonymous Spokane donor contributed $50, writing “Enclosed is our contribution. We hope it helps. A Merry Christmas to all!” Charles and Christina Booth, of Cheney, donated $50, as did Stuart and Teresa Lowe of Greenacres. Susan Wotring, of Spokane, gave $50 via PayPal.

Doug and Carol Lewis, of Liberty Lake, sent $50. “Thank you all for helping those in need at Christmas,” they wrote. Shawn Murphy, of Post Falls, gave $50 via PayPal. Linda Carroll, of Spokane, gave $50. “Thank you for helping our community and its most vulnerable members,” she wrote.

Wileva Damon, of Spokane, donated $50, as did Evelyn Graves of Medical Lake. An anonymous Spokane donor sent $50. Michael Husted, Eugina Hogue and Jennifer Murphy each donated $50 via PayPal.

Constance Brooker sent $30 via Pay Pal. Dalton and Karen Jassman, of Spokane, contributed $25. Marge Schwede, of Spokane, gave $20. “Merry Christmas to all!” she wrote. “Thanks for what you’re doing with the Christmas Fund.” Pat and Kirk Thomas, of Spokane, sent $20. Cara Schroeder, of Spokane, gave $5 via PayPal.

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

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