Final preparations were underway Tuesday at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center as volunteers prepared to open the doors of the Christmas Bureau to recipients Wednesday morning.
The Christmas Bureau is a joint venture with Catholic Charities, Volunteers of America and The Spokesman-Review. It provides a toy and a book for each child and a food voucher for each family, all paid for by community donations.
Volunteer Janet “Pinki” Culbertson was eagerly awaiting the arrival of dozens of small wooden trucks after the community responded in force to a plea last week for more of the trucks, which have always been extremely popular.
Culbertson said she was overwhelmed when she opened her email after her plea appeared in The Spokesman-Review and saw dozens of emails from people offering to make them.
“I just burst into tears,” she said. “Spokane is just amazing.”
Volunteers were also overwhelmed by the record-setting number of teddy bears collected at Saturday night’s Spokane Chiefs game.
It only took the Chiefs 41 seconds to score a goal, which was the cue for people to toss their teddy bears onto the ice, but it took a lot longer than that for volunteers to unload all 8,604 stuffed animals from a large moving truck.
Toy room supervisor Cheryl Taam said the large bears, some of them five-feet tall, will be available in the toy room immediately. It will take a little longer for the smaller animals to make an appearance.
“As soon as we finish sorting, we’ll start attaching them to certain toys,” she said. “They probably won’t go out until Saturday or Monday, depending on how long it takes to sort.”
Taam and other volunteers were smitten with a bear that looked just like Boomer, the Chief’s mascot. As Brian Cobb, director of media andpublic relations for the Chiefs, added the large bear to the pile, he bent over to examine the bear’s clothes more closely. The bear was wearing a jersey with the name Klassen on the back. There have been two Spokane Chiefs players with that name, center Chad Klassen (2001-2005) and recently released goaltender Reece Klassen.
“This is an authentic, game-worn jersey,” Cobb said.
Taam said the bear was a good addition to the toy room.
“I hope it goes to a real hockey fan,” she said.
New donations of $12,255 have brought the year to date total to $158,667.59. The goal this year is to raise $535,000. With exactly two weeks to go until Christmas, that leaves a whopping $376,332.41 to go. Donations would need to reach an average of $26,880 each day to make the goal by Christmas Day.
Moulton Wealth Management of Spokane Valley gave $5,000. “At this special time of year, and especially for our precious little ones, we are so happy to once again help with such a worthy cause,” wrote Rial and Don Moulton. “Out of thanks for our wonderful clients, and in memory of our very special mother, Rial, Don and everyone at the Moulton Wealth Management, hopes this small token of our gratitude for all God’s gifts helps others better enjoy the holidays. Merry Christmas to all!”
Kathryn Ann Mautz, of Spokane, donated $1,000. Chris Goddard gave $750 via PayPal.
The Mt. Spokane Ski Patrol gave $500. Nancy Nelson, of Colbert, donated $500, as did Scott and Anne Baumgartner of Spokane. Mike and Ione Howson, of Spokane, donated $500 via PayPal. Dick and Trudy Raymond, of Spokane, donated $500. “Thanks to all who are involved in the Christmas Fund to help everyone in the community celebrate Christmas,” they wrote. “We pray for peace and God’s blessings to all in the world.”
Nancy Edwards, of Spokane Valley, contributed $350. Tim and Lindsay Bristow, of Spokane, sent $250. Linda and Steven Swartley, of Spokane, contributed $250.
Marvin and Helen Soehren, of Spokane, donated $200, as did Janis Carrington of Spokane. Kenneth Elder, of Spokane, gave $200. W.A. Engstrom, of Spokane, donated $200, as did Linda Cannon of Spokane.
An anonymous Deer Park donor gave $100. Curt and Shirley Brown, of Nine Mile Falls, gave $100 in memory of Rick and Joan Haynes. Phyllis Eide, of Spokane, donated $100. “Given in loving memory of Jacqueline Eide, who always supported the Christmas Fund and the wonderful work it does for so many in need,” she wrote. Judith Gardner gave $100 via PayPal.
Kathleen and John Olsufka, of Spokane Valley, sent $100. An anonymous donor gave $100 in memory of Patti Fowler. Rick and Cindi Tobias, of Colbert, donated $100. “Thank you for all you do for our community,” they wrote. Daniel Muhm, of Spokane, gave $100 via PayPal.
Joe and Mary Hanson, of Nine Mile Falls, gave $50. “To another year of fantastic giving,” they wrote. “Such a treasured cause!” Janet Gilliam, of Spokane, sent $50. Gary Lake, of Spokane Valley, sent $50 via PayPal. Ann Carey and Patty Rabel, of Spokane Valley, gave $50 “in memory of our parents, Ken and Mickey Rabel.”
John and Nora Allen, of Spokane, gave $35. Neil and Carol Eliason, of Bigfork, Montana, sent $25. Warren Flath, of Spokane Valley, donated $25, as did Joni Omans of Otis Orchards. Mark and Cheryl Morrissey, of Spokane, contributed $25. An anonymous donor gave $20.