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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Hawaiian holiday music soothes long lines at Christmas Bureau

Members of the Pacific Islanders Association play ukuleles and sing while hula dancers line up around them at the Christmas Bureau at the Spokane Fair and Expo Center on Saturday. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Members of the Pacific Islanders Association play ukuleles and sing while hula dancers line up around them at the Christmas Bureau at the Spokane Fair and Expo Center on Saturday. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

The lines were longer than usual Saturday at the Christmas Bureau as people came to the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center to receive a food voucher and a toy and book for each child in their family. But those waiting in line in the morning got a special treat – a performance by musicians, singers and hula dancers from the Pacific Islanders Association.

Julene Osborn isn’t Hawaiian, but she started hula dancing 10 years ago after she took a hula class.

“I love the family feel,” she said. “Everyone is really there for each other. It’s a beautiful culture, the Hawaiian culture.”

She came to dance to serve the community.

“It’s a good time of year to give back,” she said.

People in line danced to the music, some of it traditional holiday songs like “Jingle Bells,” but with a Hawaiian flair.

Christmas Bureau volunteer Christy Folkins arranges the live entertainment that fills the stage while the Christmas Bureau is open.

“They are just one huge family,” she said of the Pacific Islanders Association group. “This group totally doubled in size from last year, so many people wanted to be a part of it.”

The crowd seemed to enjoy the music.

“Everywhere you look, even the little kids,” Folkins said. “People are singing along, smiles on their faces.”

One of those listening was Nicole Ross, who was there to get gifts for her two children and a nephew she is raising. She was also picking up gifts for her five nieces and nephews that her mother has been raising since they were infants. The oldest is 15.

“She’s a grandparent raising five grandkids,” Ross said. “We’re a village raising a family, trying to keep the family together.”

Her mother is semi-retired and has limited income while Ross works. Coming to the Christmas Bureau every year is important to the family, she said.

“We come yearly,” she said. “It helps. It’s one less stress.”

Ross said she helps her mother out whenever she can.

“It’s very hard, but it works,” she said.

Ross appreciated having festive music to listen to as she waited in line for her turn to shop for gifts.

“It was beautiful,” she said. “They put on a really great performance.”


New donations are continuing to trickle in, but with less than two weeks to go until Christmas the donations need to be coming in at a much faster rate. Adding $10,215 to bring the year to date total to $221,052.59 leaves the Bureau a long way from the goal of $535,000. Donations of all sizes are needed. The need is expected to be higher than ever this year.

Mike and Virginia Berg, of Spokane, donated $1,000. “We are thankful for the work of so many to make Christmas a joyous time for others in our area,” they wrote. “We want to help and wish you all a Merry Christmas!” The Chancery Sewing Ladies gave $1,000.

An anonymous Spokane donor gave $500, writing “With all good wishes for the good work you do.” The Wes and Dorothy Newbill family of Otis Orchards donated $500. Richard and Angela Young, of Spokane, sent $500. “Thank you for all you do - so Santa can live!” they wrote. “God bless you!” An anonymous Spokane donor gave $500 via PayPal.

Traci Hanegan, of Spokane, and Karen Mager each donated $300 via PayPal.

Eric Johnson, of Spokane, donated $250. “Please put this to the best need you can find,” he wrote. “Have a Merry Christmas!” John Stine, of Spokane, gave $250.

The Assistants donated $250. “The Assistants are a group of 45 dedicated women who raise money and volunteer in the community to help the arts, education and social services,” wrote treasurer Lynn Kimmel. “Please accept this check to assist with your generous efforts to help the needy in our community during the holiday season.”

Matt and Libby Pugel, of Spokane, gave $205 via PayPal.

Ellen Krehbiel and Jeff Wasson, of Colbert, donated $200 in honor of their families. Cheryl and Patrick Pritchard, of Spokane, contributed $200. William and Sharon Beck, of Otis Orchards, sent $200. An anonymous Cheney donor sent $200, as did an anonymous Spokane donor. A third anonymous donor also gave $200.

Kathy Eaton, of Spokane, gave $200 “in memory of Mike Eaton and 51 years together.” Zoe Foltz, of Spokane, donated $200. Nancy James, of Liberty Lake, and an anonymous Spokane donor each gave $200 via PayPal.

Cyrus McLean, of Spokane, donated $150.

An anonymous donor gave $100. Donald and Marilyn Lippman, of Spokane Valley, contributed $100. Dave and Karen Trejbal, of Rockford, sent $100. An anonymous Spokane donor gave $100, as did Roy and Joey Schmidt of Cheney. Jim English, of Colville, donated $100.

Walter and Sally Bonsack, of Spokane Valley, contributed $100, as did George and Ruth Swan of Spokane Valley. Annette La Combe, of Spokane, sent $100, as did Luella and Dean Palmer of Spokane. Rob Bly, of Newman Lake, donated $100 “In loving memory of my beautiful wife Barbara.” Susan Hoover gave $100 via PayPal.

An anonymous Spokane Valley donor gave $100 “in loving memory of Vera Actor.” Barbara Traynor, of Spokane, contributed $100. Gwen and Ryan Taylor, of Spokane, donated $100. Soroptimist International of Spokane sent $100. Peggy and Robert Frank, of Spokane, contributed $100. Jon and Dana Bowne, of Colbert, donated $100. John and Beverly Johnson, of Spokane Valley, sent $100.

The Northwest Tax Shop in Colbert and Scott Engstrom each donated $80 via PayPal. John Kent and Jacquelin Richardson, of Spokane, gave $75. Michael Brown sent $75 via PayPal. Malcolm and Carole Anderson, of Spokane Valley, gave $50. Eddie and Monica Nagashima, of Spokane, sent $50.

Laura and Steven Nestoss, of Spokane Valley, donated $40. William and Gelene Griffiths, of Nine Mile Falls, gave $30.

An anonymous Spokane donor sent $25, writing “Hope this helps!” James Teague, of Medical Lake, sent $25. An anonymous Spokane Valley donor contributed $25. Twila Little, of Coeur d’Alene, donated $25. “Thank you so much for organizing this fund to help others who are going through hard times, to help them have a better Christmas,” she wrote. “Surely this giving is in the compassionate spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Judith Maibie donated $20. Robin and Teresa Griffith, of Spokane Valley, gave $10.

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