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Groups work to collect children’s pajamas for distribution at the Christmas Bureau

UPDATED: Fri., Nov. 30, 2018

The St. Mary’s Catholic School student council members, from  left, back row, Kenedie Witherow and Emelia Tilleman; and, front, Beth Olstad,  Hadassah D.,  Olivia Wehr and Grace Dierks, have organized a pajama drive for the Christmas Bureau. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
The St. Mary’s Catholic School student council members, from left, back row, Kenedie Witherow and Emelia Tilleman; and, front, Beth Olstad, Hadassah D., Olivia Wehr and Grace Dierks, have organized a pajama drive for the Christmas Bureau. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

St. Mary’s Catholic School and Providence Medical Group have been collecting new pajamas for the Christmas Bureau for the past several years and their annual drives are already underway.

The St. Mary’s student council is in charge of creating the flyer sent home to parents.

“The student council oversees how many pajamas we get and count them,” said eighth-grader Olivia Wehr, who is the council president.

The students try to collect 300 pairs of pajamas for kids up to age 8 every year.

“Usually we surpass that,” Wehr said.

They kept the goal the same even though the students also put a collection bin in the church this year for the first time.

“We don’t want to have it too high and not reach it,” said council vice president Grace Dierks.

The students really get into the annual collection and like to pick out the pajamas themselves.

“I brought pajamas I thought were really cool that I knew other kids would like,” Dierks said.

Emelia Tilleman, the council’s secretary-treasurer, said she loves to pick out pajamas and tries to get a mix of boy and girl styles in different sizes.

“I donated about 10 pairs,” she said.

The drive at St. Mary’s started Monday and will continue through Dec. 10. The students will pack them up and have them delivered to the bureau before it opens Dec. 12. Members of the community can drop off pajama donations at the school or church office.

“I think it’s a great way to serve the community and give to people who need pajamas,” said Wehr.

The students at St. Mary’s participate in several different community service projects each year, but the student council said they have a special fondness for the pajama drive.

“It’s kind of a Christmas present for people who don’t have pajamas,” Tilleman said.

Terrie Matsch, the school’s advancement director, said community service is an important part of the school.

“It’s part of our mission as a Catholic school to give back to the community,” she said. “It teaches children at a young age the gift of giving. It makes them truly appreciate what they have and the bigger picture of what the world is.”

That mission can also be seen at the Providence Medical Group, which has been collecting pajamas for the Christmas Bureau for three years.

“Our hope is to bring the warmth of a new pair of pajamas to thousands of children throughout our community,” said Providence Health and Services Director of Communication Liz DeRuyter.

The group donated about 1,000 pairs of pajamas last year and wants to double that this year, DeRuyter said. Collection bins will be placed at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, Providence Holy Family Hospital and Providence Medical Park. The drive will end Dec. 7.

While doubling their annual donation will help a lot more children stay warm in their beds at night, it will still be a drop in the bucket. The Christmas Bureau is open for nine days, and the pajamas fly off the shelves in the first few days. Last year the Bureau served 14,044 children.

Donations

New donations of $2,600 have pushed the year to date total to $66,175.04. The goal once again is to raise $525,000 to provide food vouchers, toys and books to families for Christmas.

An anonymous Hayden, Idaho, donor gave $1,400. Bill and Debbie Pierce, of Liberty Lake, contributed $300.

Sharon and Gary Randall, of Colbert, donated $225 in memory of their parents, Presley and Margaret Cleveland and Les and Clara Randall.

Thomas Caswell, of Spokane, donated $150.

Crux Subsurface Inc., of Spokane Valley, donated $125.

Jacqueline and James Vroman, of Spokane, contributed $100, as did Richard Skelton, of Liberty Lake. The Kallestad family, of Spokane Valley, donated $100 in memory of Charles J. Kallestad.

Phyllis Eide, of Spokane, donated $100. “Given in memorium for my mother, Jacqueline Eide, who was an ever faithful supporter of your good works,” she wrote. “Many blessings to you.”

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