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Volunteers of America need a new sponsor to help fund Christmas Bureau books

Samalia Moreang, 3, left, shouts “Dora” upon seeing a book about Dora the Explorer at the Christmas Bureau Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017 at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center. At right is her sister Alycia Moreang, 2. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Samalia Moreang, 3, left, shouts “Dora” upon seeing a book about Dora the Explorer at the Christmas Bureau Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017 at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center. At right is her sister Alycia Moreang, 2. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
By Nina Culver The Spokesman-Review

A $25,000 sponsorship that funds a portion of the books given away to children during the Christmas Bureau has ended, and organizers are looking for a local company to step up and commit to providing the funding in future years.

Every year, the Volunteers of America buys the books that are given to every child who comes through the Christmas Bureau. The books are funded partly through donations given to the Christmas Fund and partly by the $25,000 sponsorship.

This year, the company that had been the sponsor for many years stepped down, said VOA CEO Fawn Schott.

“Last year they changed their funding priorities and they no longer fund literacy,” she said. “For many years it’s been a supplement.”

The organization has been left scrambling to fill the hole left by the loss of the sponsorship, but the good news is that this year’s books have already been paid for. “The funds we’re seeking are for the 2019 Christmas Bureau,” she said.

Schott said she’s been trying to find another sponsor for months. “We have been unsuccessful,” she said. “Most funders want a literacy program where mentors and a child read together, not just providing books for parents and children to read together.”

The VOA buys about 14,000 books a year for children up to age 14. Volunteers are on hand during the Christmas Bureau to help parents pick out books for their children based on the child’s interests and reading level.

Schott is a strong believer in the value of books. “Literacy is a foundation for a person to escape poverty,” she said. “We just really want to make sure that books are natural in every household. Without books in a home it really sets a child behind in their educational success.”

A company interested in taking over the sponsorships could provide their donation in a lump sum or in quarterly payments, Schott said. “We have a whole year to buy the books,” she said. “We’re really flexible.”

Anyone interested in learning more about the book program portion of the Christmas Bureau can contact the VOA at (509) 624-2378. Schott said she can provide tours of the Bureau to prospective sponsorship donors.


Every year there are donations that come in after the Christmas Fund collection drive ends, and others that come in throughout the spring and summer. Those donations provide a jump start to the next Christmas Fund. The Spokesman-Review received $27,787.74 from January through August this year.

The Looney family of Newport, Washington, and Kennewick donated $10,000. “Each year, our family’s foundation is able to make a monetary donation to a non-profit organization,” they wrote. “This year we chose the Christmas Bureau. Please accept this gift on behalf of our family.”

Angela Johnstone, of Spokane, contributed $2,000. The Clarence Colby Memorial Fund donated $1,897.91. JMA Commercial Real Estate in Spokane Valley donated $1,500 in lieu of giving gifts to their clients and tenants. “We hope this donation will help others have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,” they wrote. “We truly appreciate your efforts every year to provide as many local families as possible the means to have a happy holiday season.”

The Charlie and Kathy Watson Family Fund, the Kelly and Connie Mickelson Family Fund, the William A. Crosetto Charitable Foundation and the Hertz Charitable Fund, all managed by the Inland Northwest Community Foundation, each donated $1,000. Keith Comes, of Spokane, gave $1,000. Bagley Baits gave $1,000 via PayPal.

St. Joseph Catholic Church donated $770.68 via PayPal in honor of Father Frank Bach, a longtime supporter of the Christmas Bureau. Diana Morales, of Liberty Lake, gave $539.60. “I know this is early, but we have dismantled our charity but wanted some of the final money we have available to go to your amazing organization,” she wrote. “God bless!”

Mark and Valerie Sonderen donated $500 and included a note. “A bit late but with all the same thankfulness for providing a Christmas celebration for so many people and families,” they wrote.

Charles and Tina McElligott, of Spokane, gave $500, as did Lisa Stagman, of Spokane. An anonymous donor gave $500 and wrote “I’m grateful for all you do for those who need it most!” Carol Haugen donated $500 via PayPal. Rick Betts donated $416.75 via United Way.

Dena Kaplan donated $250 “in honor of my father Don Kelly.” Nancy Mahoney, of Spokane, gave $250. Susan Mushlitz, of Spokane, donated $200. Kathryn Sharp gave $200 via PayPal. The LeBlanc Giving Account contributed $200.

Brian and Melinda Trudeau, of Spokane, contributed $100 as did the Hathaway-Buchanan family of Spokane. An anonymous Spokane donor gave $100, as did Lavrne Linder, of Spokane.

The Staley-Sullivan family donated $100 via PayPal “in honor of the generous spirits of George and Carol Sullivan of Colbert.” The Wells Media Group contributed $100.

Andrew Caster donated $75 as did the Nissley family of Spokane. Julie Bookstrom and Charles Hinzman, both of Spokane, each gave $50. Jodi Bennin gave $50 via PayPal. Mike Yake of Coeur d’Alene donated $50.

Elizabeth Merry gave $35 via PayPal. Susanne Tuson of Colbert donated $25. A donation of $12.80 was made in the name of Cean Wang. Judith Horton of Coeur d’Alene gave seven donations of $5 each.

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

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