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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Local community groups collect pajamas for the Christmas Bureau

Emily Decker shows off pairs of pajamas she donated to the Christmas Bureau as Elliot Desimone looks over her shoulder on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019 at St. John Vianney Catholic School in Spokane Valley. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Emily Decker shows off pairs of pajamas she donated to the Christmas Bureau as Elliot Desimone looks over her shoulder on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019 at St. John Vianney Catholic School in Spokane Valley. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Every year community groups collect children’s pajamas to be distributed at the Christmas Bureau, which gives a toy and a book to every child who comes in the door as well as a grocery store voucher for each family.

In years past, Providence Health Care and St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Spokane Valley have done the bulk of the work to collect donations of pajamas and bring them to the Christmas Bureau. This year, St. John Vianney Catholic School, also in Spokane Valley, is joining the effort.

“St. Mary’s invited us,” said St. John Vianney principal Nick Sanger. “This is our first time. we’re excited to help out.”

Each grade in the small school, which has 130 students in preschool through the eighth grade, has a service project each year. The collection of pajamas is the third grade service project, Senger said. “This is a great match for them.”

St. Mary’s is trying to collect 400 pairs of pajamas, and Senger said his school hopes to add another 200.

“We have a smaller student population than St. Mary’s and this is our first year,” he said.

A round bin placed in front of the school office was already overflowing on Tuesday and pajamas will continue to be collected through Monday. The school plans to have a guessing contest, with a prize going to the student who comes the closest to guessing how many pairs of pajamas have been collected, Senger said.

Emily Decker, 8, said she and her sister and their parents each picked out a pair of pajamas to donate. Her sister picked a pair decorated with pandas and she went with a purple pair with white hearts.

“I thought they looked cute,” she said of her choice. “It’s fun to pick out pajamas for people that need them.”

Fellow third-grader Elliot Desimone said his family also brought in several pairs of pajamas for the bin. “It’s cool,” he said of the collection effort.

Senger said students seem enthusiastic about the project. “It’s something everyone can relate to,” he said.

“The fact that people don’t have a basic thing like pajamas really hits home with the kids.”

It helps that there’s a wide variety of styles and sizes available, he said.

“You can pick really cute ones,” he said. “There’s personality in the choices.”

Senger is already planning to continue the pajama drive next year and said he’d like to convince other schools to join.

“I would love to see this spread to other Catholic schools,” he said. “I think it would be a great way to build community among our Catholic schools.”

Community members interested in donating pajamas can drop them off at either St. Mary’s School, 14601 E. Fourth Ave., or St. John Vianney School, 501 N. Walnut Road.

Christmas Bureau Coordinator Sierra Heinen said the pajamas will be paired with certain toys. Parents who select one of those toys, which will be clearly marked, will be allowed to pick a pair of pajamas. It’s done this way because there are thousands of children and only a few hundred pairs of pajamas available, Heinen said.

She said she hopes that one day the Christmas Bureau will be able to provide a pair of pajamas for every child.

“Our hopes and dreams are to grow the pajama program,” she said. “I would love for that to be a promise in addition to books and toys one day.”


More donations came in for the Christmas Bureau in the third quarter of 2019. The new donations of $37,640.99 bring the year to date total to $72,379.09. The goal this year to is raise $535,000 to pay for food vouchers for needy families and a toy and book for each child.

Four funds managed by the Innovia Foundation sent donations: The Madeleine Muths Memorial Fund donated $21,654, an anonymous fund contributed $4,000, the Guy and Ruth Reed Memorial Fund gave $2,171, and the William A. Crosetto Charitable Foundation sent $1,653.68.

The Bergquist Foundation, of Spokane, gave $5,000. The president of the foundation, Lawrence Small, included a short note: “The Board of Directors and the Foundation and I trust that your non-profit organization will use this money to carry out its worthy purpose.”

The Clarence Colby Memorial fund gave $1,657.15. Rick Betts gave $379.76 via United Way. The Sisters of Providence donated $500. Barbara August of Spokane sent $200.

An anonymous Spokane donor sent $100 in honor of S. Stone. J. Vervaeke, of Spokane, gave $100. Jack and Kathleen Ossello donated $100 in honor of Suzi Stone’s birthday. Peggy Gazette, of Spokane, contributed $100.

Judith Horton, of Coeur d’Alene, sent five donations of $5 each.

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