Babies bundled in blankets and parents layered against the cold, hundreds of people stood in line Wednesday, waiting their turn to visit the Christmas Bureau for a food voucher, toy and a book.
The line sometimes stretched from the Ag Building at the Spokane County Fairgrounds out the gate and into the parking lot, at one point reaching as far as Avista Stadium.
Jacinda Harris-Rogers got in line at 9 a.m., an hour before the scheduled 10 a.m. opening. Her husband recently was laid off, she said, and she is disabled. She was looking for Christmas gifts for her two young children.
Harris-Rogers said she came to the bureau last year but didn’t expect to be back.
“This year we weren’t planning on it because he got a better job and was getting paid more,” she said.
She’s grateful for the help the bureau provides.
“Having something under the tree for the kids when you can’t afford it is great,” she said. “The food voucher really helps, too.”
Lesley Stevenson was there to get presents for her seven grandchildren she is raising.
“I wouldn’t miss this for anything,” she said. “The quality of everything is amazing, even the books.”
Five of her grandchildren are Native American, and Stevenson said the volunteers helped her pick out books with Native American themes for them.
“You have to make sure they’re in touch with their heritage as much as possible,” she said.
Stevenson is living off her Social Security and depends on community services like the Christmas Bureau. Without the bureau she wouldn’t be able to give her grandchildren presents, she said.
“I don’t get them anything,” she said. “I can’t. I’m trying to make ends meet.”
Another woman was shopping for her three children after waiting in line since 8 a.m.
“The toys are really great,” she said. “You don’t have to hurry.”
Exceeding turnout for any single day of last year’s bureau, 1,231 families and 4,579 individuals visited the Christmas Bureau on Wednesday.
Donors have added $21,169 to the tally, bringing the year-to-date total to $191,523.13. There’s less than two weeks until Christmas and the Christmas Bureau is now open, giving out food vouchers and toys and books to children. The goal is to raise $525,000.
TESTCOMM LLC of Spokane donated $5,000. “We are proud to be part of the Spokane community and to continue our participation in this annual event of sharing and caring,” wrote company manager Jerry Ensminger.
Dennis and Janice McMann, of Newport, Washington, donated $1,500. Steve and Rene Goebel, of Nine Mile Falls, gave $1,500.
K.A. Mautz, of Spokane, sent $1,000 in memory of Elsie, Lance and Rory. Tipke Manufacturing, of Spokane, gave $1,000. The Kelly and Connie Mickelson Family Fund, managed by the Innovia Foundation, donated $1,000. Sandra Okert, of Otis Orchards, contributed $1,000 via Pay Pal.
The Association of Retired Avista Employees donated $714.
The Sisters of Providence in Spokane donated $500. St. Joseph Catholic Church in Metaline Falls, Washington, sent $500. An anonymous Cheney donor gave $500.
Bob and Lois Banta, of Liberty Lake, donated $400 “in memory and honor of Capt. James R. Shively, Mar. 23, 1942-Feb. 18, 2006.” An anonymous Spokane donor gave $400, writing “Thank you for the Christmas Fund and all the work you put into it. I am grateful to be able to donate.”
Wesley and Dorothy Newbill, of Otis Orchards, sent $300. “Thank you for a wonderful organization,” they wrote. Steve and Karen Heaps, of Greenacres, gave $300 “in memory of Irene Johnson, dedicated Bloomsday volunteer and board member.”
Jerry, Dawn and Megan Goertz sent $250. “As long time donors, it is our pleasure to once again be able to donate to this great cause,” they wrote. “Please accept this $250 in memory of James Soderman and Herb and Florence Goertz.” Helen Duchow, of Spokane, donated $250, as did Bill Fanning. Linda Tetrault gave $250 via Pay Pal.
Richard Myers, of Spokane, contributed $200. Paul Cert, of Spokane, sent $200, as did an anonymous Spokane donor. Deborah Gilstrap gave $200 and challenged local elementary and daycare teachers to also donate.
James Kearney, of Spokane Valley, gave $150, as did Diane Wieber of Spokane.
Rovella Vawter, of Spokane Valley, donated $100. “May the gifts you give out bring joy to someone that might not of gotten one,” she wrote. Bruce and Kathleen Robarge of Spokane gave $100. An anonymous donor from Oakesdale, Washington, gave $100. Neil Clemons, of Spokane, contributed $100 “in loving memory of Paul R. Yurik.”
Jean Rose, of Spokane, sent $100. Robert and Dorothy Yohe, of Spirit Lake, Idaho, donated $100. Annie Foss, of Spokane, gave $100. “Good job,” she wrote. “You all do a wonderful service for the needy. Merry Christmas.” Barbara Foltz, of Spokane, contributed $100. Tom and Bette Brattebo, of Liberty Lake, donated $100. “Merry Christmas to all,” they wrote.
Rob Breidenbach and Dennis Fredrickson, both of Spokane, each gave $100. Steve and Roxie Palmer, of Spokane, donated $100. “Just a little something to help make the Christmas season brighter,” they wrote. “Thank you for all that you do to help make this happen for so many.” Ann Shaw, of Spokane, contributed $100 via Pay Pal.
Jack and Kathy Ossello, of Spokane, gave $100 in honor of Kathy Lackie’s birthday. Heather Brennan and Lynn Sorenson, both of Spokane, each sent $100. Linda and Bob Miller, of Post Falls, gave $100, as did John and Ro Lisk of Spokane. Three anonymous Spokane donors each gave $100.
Thomas Pope and Mary Wood, both of Spokane, each donated $100. Maria Kenna, of Spokane Valley, contributed $100. Susan Hales and Larry Luton, of Spokane, gave $100. Donald and Marilyn Lippman, of Spokane Valley, sent $100. Bill Phipps, of Spokane Valley, donated $100 in memory of Shirley Phipps.
Konni Dietz, of Spokane, donated $75 “in appreciation for family – from grandkids to grandparents!” An anonymous Spokane donor gave $75.
Kerry Orcutt, of Spokane Valley, contributed $50, writing “Thank you for all you do to help so many.” Adrian Nichols, of Spokane, donated $50. Two anonymous Spokane donors each gave $50. Sidney and Catherine Johnson, of Spokane, gave $50. Sierra Caso, of Spokane, donated $50 via Pay Pal.
Barry and Deborah Cross, of Spokane, contributed $50. “Merry Christmas to all at the Christmas Bureau!” they wrote. “Please use the enclosed check, donated in memory of Ryan Cross, to help those in need this Christmas. Thanks for your efforts.” Mary Johnson, of Nine Mile Falls, donated $50.
Jay and Debbie Humphrey, of Spokane, donated $40 in memory of Frank and Vera Romero. Leonard and Betty Hunt, of Spokane, gave $30.
Margaret Kobylus, of Spokane Valley, sent $25, as did Scott and Barbara McArthur of Spokane. Colleen Warner and Mary Gordon, both of Spokane, each gave $25. Charles and Judith Kocher, of Spokane, contributed $25. Judith Maibie, of Spokane, donated $10.
For donations made through Pay Pal, The Spokesman-Review contributed the processing fee.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.