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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Christmas Bureau volunteer recruited her family to help serve recipients

Carla Crooks is among a group of Molina employees who regularly volunteer at the Christmas Bureau. (Nina Culver / The Spokesman-Review)

Carla Crooks is working on making volunteering at the Christmas Bureau a family affair. She’s already recruited her husband and one daughter to join her, and her other daughter plans to participate next year.

Crooks has been volunteering with a small group of Molina Healthcare co-workers for eight years. The health care company gives its employees 16 hours of paid time off to volunteer every year. Crooks said she and the other employees started out working for several different organizations, including the Christmas Bureau, but now spend all their time at the bureau.

“We really liked the Christmas Bureau,” she said. “We save it up. The Christmas Bureau is wonderful. You couldn’t pick a better place to volunteer.”

She said she mostly does toy restocking, helping keep the shelves of the toy room full. “I guess we worked really hard because they asked us to come work the first two days,” she said. “I felt honored. It’s extremely busy out there.”

She said Molina has 770,000 customers in Washington and about 700,000 of them are on Medicaid. “We’re there to help vulnerable people,” she said. “It matches really well with what Molina does. Those are our members that are there.”

She likes that every child is able to receive a new toy on Christmas. “It’s as much a gift to those parents as it is to those kids,” she said. “I can’t imagine not being able to give my child something nice on Christmas.”

Her mother was involved in community service when Crooks was a child and Crooks said that is what inspires her. “It’s good to be able to help out in the community,” she said. “I think I get much more out of it than what I put into it.”

She said she enjoys working with the other longtime volunteers that she sees every year. “They’re just the nicest people to work with,” she said. “I can’t imagine not volunteering out there.”


A rise in donations has brought in $9,115, enough to push the year to date total to $104,209.04. With just over two weeks to go until Christmas, time to reach the goal of $525,000 is growing shorter.

Hal Dixon, of Spokane, donated $3,000. An anonymous donor gave $1,000 via PayPal.

Gary and Kathryn James, of Nine Mile Falls, gave $500 in memory of Richard and Mary Hunt, Herb and Mickey James and twin brother Larry James. Pam Ness, of Coeur d’Alene, contributed $500. Chris Goddard sent $500 via PayPal.

Mike and Ione Howson, of Spokane, donated $400 via PayPal. Nancy and Tom Nelson, of Colbert, donated $300. An anonymous Spokane donor sent $300 with a note that said, “I love the work you do and am looking forward to volunteering at the bureau this year for the first time!”

Emmett and Marylu Arndt, of Spokane, gave $200. “Thank you for all you to do make Christmas so meaningful for all our community!” the wrote. “Blessings to all!” Bob and Nancy James, of Liberty Lake, contributed $200, as did Micheal and Valerie Adams, of Spokane.

Julie and Jeff Morris, of Spokane, donated $180 “in loving memory of the Pittsburgh synagogue victims.” Jean Jalufka, of Spokane, sent $150 in honor of her grandchildren, Avery and Carson Loucks.

Fred and Gloria Vogel, of Usk, Washington, donated $100 in memory of their son, Vincent, who died in a house fire in December 1977 when he was six years old. Neil Wright, of Spokane, gave $100. Bruce and Sharon Anthony, of Spokane, sent $100. “This is a great Christmas tradition for our community,” they wrote.

Jim Clift, of Otis Orchards, donated $100, as did John and Marilyn Miller, of Spokane Valley. Donna Stovall and Delores Crabtree, both of Spokane, each donated $100. Ron Loomis, of Colbert, gave $100. Nancy Peterson, of Ione, Washington, contributed $100 via PayPal.

Gail and Dave DeRoshia, of Spokane, contributed $100. “Thank you for all you do for those in need in Spokane,” they wrote. “Please buy books for the children with our donation. Reading is so important. Merry Christmas!” Katherine Harper, of Spokane, sent $100, as did Mary Cameron, of Spokane Valley.

Carol Phelps, of Spokane, donated $75 with a simple note that read “Thank you.” Luella Palmer, Steven Anderson and Linda Williamson, all of Spokane, each contributed $50. Vickie Borer, of Spokane, gave $50. Peggy Estey gave $50 via PayPal.

Joseph Toombs Jr., of Spokane Valley, also known as dispatcher A10569, sent $35 on behalf of retired California Highway Patrol dispatchers.

Sherryl Niska, of Spokane, gave $30. Kathleen and Michael Suenkel, of Spokane, donated $30, as did H.A. Penfield, of Colbert. Deidra Saba contributed $30 via PayPal. Judith Horton, of Coeur d’Alene, donated $5.

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