There is a child care area at the Christmas Bureau for children to visit while parents pick out their Christmas gifts, so as not to spoil the surprise of what Santa is bringing them on Christmas Day. Nearly every day, several students from Rogers High School are there to help.
“They’re so good,” said volunteer Tammy Walker, who oversees the child care area every day. “A lot of them have little brothers and sisters and know how to play with kids. They get down on the floor on their hands and knees and play with them.”
Walker said she depends on the student volunteers, who come every year.
“I couldn’t do it alone,” she said.
There are plenty of toys for the kids to play with while they’re there, along with books to read. For most it is a quick visit, but some are there a little longer.
Junior Xavier Nila volunteered at the bureau last year, helping carry gifts to people’s cars. This year he signed up for the child care area.
“It was an opportunity to volunteer that our school does every year and I just signed up,” he said. “I think it’s a pretty cool experience. I like kids.”
Junior Kelby Ball was reading a book to a little girl who seemed shy. It was her first time volunteering at the bureau.
“I love it,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun. I’m used to the younger age.”
As each child left, they could pick either a new stuffed toy that came from the Spokane Chiefs’ Teddy Bear Toss or a handmade wooden toy truck.
“They don’t want to leave, so we bribe them with an animal,” Walker said. “It works.”
Christmas is nearly upon us and we still have a long way to go to meet the goal of raising $525,000 to pay for the Christmas Bureau, which closes on Friday. New donations of $26,811 have brought the year-to-date total to $318,062.13.
The Christmas Fund has met its goal every year for 13 years, thanks to the generosity of the people hailing from everywhere from Spokane to Hawaii, but the community needs to rally to push the fund to the top in the few days that remain.
The Justus Bag Co., of Spokane Valley, donated $8,000 in honor of Pa Pa Curly and Grandma Dorothy. “Heartbreaking … the only word I can think of to describe anyone who will be without Christmas or be alone on Christmas,” wrote company President Darin Justus. “My grandfather (Pa Pa Curly) and grandmother (Grandma Dorothy) always had a heart for those who were not able to make ends meet. I don’t think you’ll ever meet two people that were so unselfish with a huge heart to help those in desperate need of food, money, clothing, etc. This really is what the ‘Christmas spirit’ is all about. It’s about sacrifice. It’s about giving. It’s about love. It’s about taking our eyes off ourselves and getting outside of our comfort zone in order to really make a difference. This truly defined my grandparents’ heart not just during the holiday season, but every day of their life. We hope this small contribution will make a big difference.”
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $5,000, writing: “Our wish is for all to have a blessed and merry Christmas. Thank you for providing this wonderful gift to our community.”
An anonymous donor sent $1,500, writing: “Bless you for doing this. I have an idea of the enormity of the undertaking.” Another anonymous donor also gave $1,500.
The South Hill Bunco Babes contributed $561. “The South Hill Bunco Babes have been meeting monthly for fun and fellowship for 16 years,” they wrote. “We are grateful for the joy you bring to families at Christmas and are happy to continue our tradition of a donation, this year $561.”
An anonymous Spokane couple gave $545, writing: “My wife and I are generation number three of five to call Spokane our home. The happiness your Christmas Fund brings to community members in need of support at this time makes us proud to live here and gives us cause to contribute annually! We make this year’s gift in honor of our parents – Denny and Junice and Chuck and Pauline. Best wishes to all for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2019!”
John Altberg, of Spokane, sent $500 via PayPal. “Thanks for all that you do year-round to make Christmas brighter for those in need,” he wrote. “Once again, I am honored to contribute to this most worthy cause.”
Gary and Susan Bloom, of Spokane, contributed $500, as did an anonymous Spokane donor. Brett Hober, of Spokane, sent $500 via PayPal. Sharon and Taylor Powell, of Spokane, gave $500. “Thank you for helping to make Christmas for those in need,” she wrote. “Your hard work is greatly appreciated.”
Diane and Einar Larson, of Almira, Washington, gave $475. Stephen and Karen Darling, of Spokane, donated $400. “Thank you for this opportunity to give back to our community and make sure all have a special Christmas,” they wrote. “We give in memory of two dear friends, Felix Martinez and Jan Bowman, who exemplified the spirit of Christmas every day of their lives.”
An anonymous Spokane donor sent $300, writing: “Please accept this donation on our behalf that it can help to make a brighter Christmas for some. We appreciate all you do for our less fortunate.”
David and Jane Scott, of Spokane, gave $250. “Thanks for all you do and all of those you help,” they wrote. “Keep up the good work!” Karen Harkins, of Spokane, sent $250 via PayPal.
Jim and Lynn Kimmel, of Spokane, donated $200, as did Mike and Rita Gibson, of Spokane. Bob and Lola Weldin gave $200 “in memory of three dear friends from our coffee group – Mary Anna Bryan, Otto Schumacher and Bill Hale.” Kenneth Hill, of Spokane, sent $200 via PayPal. Harry Fuhs, of Spokane, donated $200.
Nick and Leslie Zilka, of Liberty Lake, contributed $200. “Thank you for all you do,” they wrote. “In five years of volunteering for the bureau we see what a difference you make.” Mary Nofsinger, of Spokane, sent $200. “Thanks for sponsoring the Christmas Fund,” she wrote.
The Quilt Charmers, a group of women who meet at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Colbert, donated $200. “While none of our members have had to use your service, we want to give to our community and feel that this fund will reach the most people and do the greatest good,” they wrote. “Thank you for all that you do.”
An anonymous Spokane Valley donor gave $150, writing: “Thank you for all the work you are doing. May God bless you.” Joan and Michael Keegan, of Spokane, sent $150, as did William and Eileen Dittman, of Spokane. Kurt Felgenhauer gave $150 via PayPal. Barbara Richardson gave $150 via PayPal. Irma Cleveland, of Spokane, donated $150 in memory of Grandpa Ben C. and granddaughters Ashley C. and Amy C.
Lowell Severud, of Surprise, Arizona, gave $100. Mary Peer, of Spokane, sent $100. “This donation is in memory of my husband, Dennis Peer,” she wrote. “This was his favorite charity.” Judith Noble, Bill Barber and Linda Cannon, all of Spokane, each contributed $100.
Marlin and Diana Griffith, of Spokane, donated $100. An anonymous donor gave $100, writing “In memory of my parents, former supporters.” Thomas and Camilla Tilford, of Spokane, sent $100 in honor of Kathleen Lackie’s birthday. Donald and Diana Storey, of Spokane, donated $100.
Peggy Gazette, of Spokane, contributed $100, as did Linda Wallman, of Otis Orchards. Lawrence and Georgina Schrock, of Spokane, sent $100. Michael Bonderenko, of Coulee City, Washington, gave $100. An anonymous Colbert donor gave $100. An anonymous donor sent $100 via PayPal.
Paddy and Teri Inman, of Mead, gave $100. “Every year we look forward to the Christmas Bureau story as it unfolds once again in our generous community and brings so much joy and happiness to so many!” they wrote. “Thank you for all you do.”
Minnie Samek, of Spokane, donated $100 in memory of her husband Phil and son Darrell. “God’s blessings to all of you,” she wrote. “You do a great job for people.” Eric Anderson, Rosemary Smith, Daunita Higgins, Nathan Batson, and Frank Puschak each gave $100 via PayPal.
Steffanie Ottmar and Tara Hamm, both of Spokane, each donated $75. Sally Phillips gave $70 via PayPal.
An anonymous Spokane Valley donor gave $50, writing “Merry Christmas and thank you for your excellent work.” Shirley Schrawyer, of Spokane, contributed $50 via PayPal. “In memory of my son, Erik Jon Wells, for all the children in Spokane County,” she wrote. “God bless!”
Loyola Doran, of Spokane, contributed $50 in memory of Donald J. Doran, who was retired U.S. Air Force. Gerald Krumbholz, of Liberty Lake, sent $50 via PayPal. Brenda Clark and Marjorie Mitchell each donated $50 via PayPal. Dave and Carole Youngman, of Spokane, sent $40.
Charles and Linda Ellis, of Veradale, sent $25, as did Scott and Carrie Rider, of Spokane Valley. Jacqueline Dillon, of Spokane Valley, gave $25. Andrew Collins, of Waltham, Massachusetts, donated $25 via PayPal. Elizabeth Carlson, of Spokane, donated $25. Preston and Carolyn Smith contributed $25.
An anonymous donor gave $20, writing “Wish it could be more.”
For donations made through PayPal, The Spokesman-Review contributed the processing fee.
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