People ventured out on snowy roads for the first day of the Christmas Bureau at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center, making the toy room busy and the lines long on Wednesday.
The Bureau provides books, toys and food vouchers to families who find themselves in need of a little help to provide a good Christmas for their family. Catholic Charities, Volunteers of America and The Spokesman-Review collaborate to put on the Bureau each December. It will remain open every day from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. through Dec. 20, excluding Sunday.
Brandon and Jennifer Anderson were there to find gifts for their three daughters, ages 12, 11 and 3. “We come here every year, for at least the last five years,” Brandon Anderson said.
He works while his wife stays home with the children. “Day care is just so expensive,” he said. “It’s impossible.”
They were looking for toys that they thought the girls would like.
“It’s a good selection of things,” he said. “Whenever we’ve gotten something, it’s always been really good and the girls loved it.”
Jeff Anderson (no relation) started shopping by grabbing a giant stuffed unicorn and a stuffed panda for his two youngest children. His four children range in age from 8 to 15. His wife was at work as he browsed the toy room. He said he’s been coming to the Bureau for years to try to make Christmas better for the family.
“With four kids, we’ve got to do what we can,” he said.
He picked out a ukelele for his 13-year-old daughter, who loves music.
“She plays the violin,” he said.
That left one more gift to shop for. “There’s pretty good gifts,” he said. “It’s high quality. Everybody is really friendly, too.”
Megan Contos picked out a bright blue bike with training wheels for her 3-year-old son. The bike is also available in red.
“Isn’t it the cutest?” she said. “He loves to be outside and is always riding around on his walkie car. And his favorite color is blue.”
Contos said she stays home with her son while her husband works. She said she calculated that she would spend her entire paycheck on day care if she was working as well. “It didn’t make sense financially to put him in daycare,” she said.
So she stays home and teaches him his ABC’s, numbers and colors. She said she’s been coming to the Bureau since he was born so she’s able to give him a nice toy on Christmas every year.
“It’s been super helpful,” she said.
Thousands of people are counting on the Christmas Bureau to make Christmas special and more donations are needed to reach to the goal of $535,000. New donations of $40,385 have brought the year to date total to $199,052.59.
Hotstart, of Spokane, donated $7,500. TestComm LLC donated $5,250. “Please accept this contribution from all of us at TestComm,” wrote manager Jerry Ensminger. “We are proud to be part of the Spokane community and to continue our participation in this annual event of sharing and caring.”
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $5,000, writing “Thank you for keeping this wonderful tradition going in our community. Merry Christmas to all!” Geraldine Fait, of Spokane, sent $5,000.
Colvico Inc., of Spokane, gave $2,000. An anonymous Spokane donor gave $1,000, writing “Thank you to all of the wonderful Christmas Fund volunteers!” An anonymous donor from Hayden, Idaho, gave $1,000. Bill and Mabel McInerney, of Priest Lake, Idaho, donated $1,000.
The Patten family of Spokane donated $1,000. “It’s that time of year when my husband, Les Patten, would look at gifting in the spirit of Christmas and your Christmas Bureau always topped the list,” wrote Georgene Patten. “Thanks to all your volunteers who do so much to brighten holidays for the families in the community as well as thanks to your associates, Catholic Charities and Volunteers of America. Please accept the enclosed check as his family makes this gift in memory of Les Patten as we continue his legacy for sharing. Blessings for continuation of this amazing holiday support to those in our community who see that Spokane is a wonderful, caring community for all.”
An anonymous donor in Valleyford gave $750, writing “Please accept the enclosed contribution for this wonderful cause. We wish the incredible volunteers and recipients a beautiful Christmas season.” An anonymous Spokane donor gave $700.
The Kelly and Connie Mickelson Family Fund, managed by the Innovia Foundation, gave $500. Bruce and Rebekka Higgins, of Spokane, donated $500 in memory of Pennie Cooley. Sharon Arnold, of Deer Park, sent $500. An anonymous Cheney donor sent $500, writing “Thank you for everything you do to make special moments and days for people in need.” Barbara and David Floyd, of Newport, Washington, contributed $500.
Dennis and Patricia Doyle, of Spokane, donated $350. Carl and Dennie Crowe, of Spokane, gave $250. “Thanks to all of you, especially the volunteers, for making Christmas magical for so many Spokane families,” they wrote. The Krause family of Spokane gave $250. An anonymous donor gave $250 in memory of Gust Abariotes.
Michael Perrizo gave $250 via PayPal. “Merry Christmas to all,” he wrote. “In memory of Lee and Diane Bergstrom.”
David and Evelyn DeFoe, of Spokane, sent $200. Scotti Stephens, of Spokane Valley, gave $200 via PayPal. The Quilt Charmers donated $200. “Quilt Charmers, a local group of ladies who meet at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Colbert, is again making a donation of $200 to The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund,” wrote club secretary Linda Plett. “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. Thank you for all that you do.”
Sharon and Gary Randall, of Colbert, gave $200 in memory of their parents, Presley and Margaret Cleveland and Les and Clara Randall. An anonymous Spokane Valley donor sent $200. Thomas Caswell, of Spokane, donated $200. Peggy and Steve Koehler, of Spokane, donated $200 via PayPal. An anonymous donor in Lamont, Washington, gave $200. Sandy and Ted Vogelman, of Spokane, contributed $200. Paul Grubb, of Spokane, sent $200 via PayPal.
Arthur and Marilyn Sturdevant, of Cheney, donated $175. DIVCON Inc. sent $150 in the name of employee John Jessen. “DIVCON Inc. and our team want to say Merry Christmas to Spokane,” wrote company president Shane Miller. “Each of our employees can donate to the charity of their choice and DIVCON matches double their individual donations. As a Spokane general contractor we appreciate your support of local families.”
Mary Cameron, of Spokane Valley, donated $150. Steve and Shannon Pollo, of Lansing, Michigan, gave $150 via PayPal “in memory of Dorothy Putz, a supporter of the Bureau and a Kaiser Mead retiree.” An anonymous donor gave $105.
Robert Harris, of Spokane Valley, donated $100. William Skylstad, of Spokane, gave $100, as did Delores Crabtree of Spokane. David Looney, of Newport, Washington, donated $100.
Mike and Cindy Owens, of Chattaroy, gave $100. “We would like to make this contribution in memory of our moms, who both loved the Christmas season,” they wrote. “Glenda Owens, who has been gone 59 years, and Virginia Jewett Zaring, gone 14 years.” Phillip Schumaker, of Spokane, donated $100. Bill Molsberry gave $100 via PayPal.
Emmett McLaughlin, of Spokane Valley, contributed $100. David Adams and Mary Gentile, of Spokane, sent $100. An anonymous Spokane Valley donor sent $100. A. Rizzuto, of Spokane, gave $100. An anonymous donor from Oakesdale, Washington, gave $100. Carol Lingow, of Spokane Valley, donated $100, as did Wayne Attwood, of Spokane.
Mark and Linda McFall, of Colbert, sent $100, as did Delores and Joseph Rodgers, of Spokane. Tom Bryan, of Spokane, donated $100. “This gift is in honor of Al Payne, a wonderful man who died this year,” he wrote. “You do a great job.”
Randi Marsh, Amy Lutz, Julie Silliman and an anonymous Spokane donor each gave $100 via PayPal.
John and Charlotte Sullivan, of Spokane, donated $100 in memory of Charles and Opal McCoy. Elizabeth and Steven Hitch, of Spokane, gave $100. An anonymous Deer Park donor gave $100. Jim and Margo Walesby, of Spokane, contributed $100. Phillip Brown, of Spokane, contributed $100 via PayPal.
Jay Krumbholz, of Liberty Lake, donated $75. The St. Mary Pinochle Group donated $75 “in memory of Judy Thies, who was the Christmas Bureau toy buyer for several years.”
Wileva Damon, of Spokane, contributed $50, as did Don and Judi Young, of Spokane. Mark Johnson, of Nine Mile Falls, gave $50. An anonymous Spokane Valley donor sent $50. Rovella Vawter, of Spokane Valley, gave $50.
Theresa Schimmels, of Spokane Valley, donated $50 via PayPal in honor of her parents, Gary and Myrna Schimmels. Mary Clute, of Spokane, gave $50 via PayPal “in honor of my mother, Mary Repikoff, who loved Christmas and taught us to share.” Nancy Kuch donated $50 via Pay Pal in memory of Bill Kuch.
John and Sharon Hopper, of Spokane, donated $50. Donna Douglass, of Spokane, donated $50. An anonymous Spokane Valley donor gave $50 in honor of Roger Moore. Willbann and Virginia Terpening, of Spokane, sent $50. Jeanette Lenseigne donated $50 via PayPal, as did Tami Stubbs.
Karen and Kelly Ryan, of Spokane, donated $30 in memory of Pat Ryan. “For a little help,” they wrote. “Wish it could be more.”
An anonymous Spokane donor sent $25, as did an anonymous Veradale donor. Joseph and Jean Fay, of Airway Heights, donated $25. Devon Van Dyne gave $25 via PayPal. An anonymous donor gave $15. Melody Gow, of Mead, donated $10.
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