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‘It actually means a lot’: Christmas Bureau donations are helping families in time of need

John Lieske, left, selects toys for his five boys with help from Christmas Bureau volunteer Carmen Glatt, Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
John Lieske, left, selects toys for his five boys with help from Christmas Bureau volunteer Carmen Glatt, Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

John Lieske arrived Tuesday at the Christmas Bureau looking for gifts for his five sons.

It’s been a struggle. Lieske lost his job to layoffs two months ago, found some temporary work that isn’t as good, and is now turning to the generosity of Spokane for some holiday help.

Lieske said he knows it’s important to his sons, between the ages of 5 and 14, that they celebrate Christmas even though things are tough.

“It’s probably more important to them than it is to me,” he said.

His gift selections were heavy on the remote-controlled trucks and Hot Wheels.

“They love trucks and cars,” he said.

Brittany Sanchez came Tuesday to find gifts for her six children ages 4 to 14. It was not the first time she has come for help.

“I came about seven years ago,” she said. “It’s been a while. I just hit a spot where I needed help with the kids.”

She said she appreciates the fact the Christmas Bureau is there when she needs a helping hand.

“It’s pretty awesome,” she said. “It means a lot. It’s very helpful.”

Christmas is exactly one week away and families continue to arrive at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center where teams of volunteers distribute toys, books and food vouchers all paid for by annual donations.

This year the goal was to raise $535,000. Donations continue to arrive, but time is running short and so is the money.

Catholic Charities and Volunteers of America spend all year buying books and toys in anticipation of being paid back by community donations.

And though donations are lagging, people are still visiting the Christmas Bureau every day in an attempt to provide a good Christmas for their family.

Dayshawnae Payne was looking for something for her 8-year-old son. She heard about the Bureau from a friend at her son’s school last year, when she came to the Bureau and chose a drone for him. This year she picked out a Brackitz design-and-build car kit.

“It actually means a lot,” she said of the gift. “Even if it’s just one, he knows he was thought of at Christmas.”


New donations of $10,385 have brought the year-to-date total to $263,386.59.

Larry and Patricia Bishop, of Coeur d’Alene, donated $1,000. An anonymous Spokane Valley donor sent $1,000. Cynthia Postlethwaite, of Spokane Valley, gave $1,000 via PayPal on behalf of Walker’s Furniture and Mattress.

Evergreen Cosmetic and Family Dentistry in Spokane Valley gave $1,000. “The entire team at Evergreen Cosmetic and Family Dentistry is donating $1,000 to help make Christmas a little brighter this holiday season,” said a letter signed by doctors Jeff Hood, Blaine Dodson and Penny Walpole.

Cyrus and Janet Vaughn, of Spokane, gave $500. Bryce and Cheryl Backus, of Spokane Valley, donated $500 “in loving memory of Roy Sherwood.” An anonymous Spokane donor gave $500 “on behalf of Spencer and Nathan for kids less fortunate.”

Peter and Mary Lou Bach, of Spokane, sent $400. “We would like to thank Catholic Charities for all the hard work that you do to make Christmas a little brighter,” they wrote. Janice Darc, of Coeur d’Alene, contributed $400. Robert Lemoine, of Spokane, gave $400 via PayPal.

An anonymous donor gave $350 via PayPal. Gary and Vicki Erickson, of Medical Lake, contributed $300. Bob and Debbie Glaza, of Spokane Valley, gave $300. “We appreciate all you do to help families have a happier holiday season,” they wrote.

Jean Hong donated $250 via PayPal. “In loving memory of mother Eunhi, hope this Christmas would be a little brighter,” she wrote.

Fred and Gloria Vogel, of Usk, Washington, gave $200. “Please accept our donation to the Christmas Fund in memory of our son, Vincent Todd Vogel, who died December 1977 at age six.” Michael and Susan Hawkins, of Post Falls, sent $200. “Thank you to all of your dedicated volunteers,” they wrote. “Your caring spirit is a blessing to all you touch.”

Donald and Luann Petersen, of Spokane, gave $200. Jeffrey and Theresa Utesch, of Veradale, sent $200. A.K. and S.A. Katsaris, of Spokane, donated $200.

Gary and Judy Spangelo, of Cheney, gave $100. K. Wallingford, of Spokane, sent $100. Suzanne Grainger, of Spokane, donated $100. An anonymous Spokane donor gave $100 in memory of Rick and Joan Haynes. Keith and Sara Gehr, of Spokane, contributed $100.

Lowell Severud, of Spokane, donated $100. Barry Bergau, of Spokane, sent $100. “Please accept this donation in Debbie Montgomery’s name,” he wrote. Stephen and Frances Menzel, of Spokane, contributed $100. Beverly Gibb gave $100 via PayPal.

An anonymous Spokane donor gave $75.

Gary and Jan Huguenin, of Spokane, gave $50 “in memory of our good friend Jim Kacalek.” An anonymous Spokane donor sent $50. Gerry Rose, of Spokane, donated $50. “Please accept this $50 in memory of my sister, Shirley Scribner, and my husband, Arlen Rose,” she wrote. “They both loved Christmas and helping others.”

Nancy Hood, of Greenacres, gave $50, as did Steven and Diane Zemke of Spokane. Robert and Cecile LaFountain, of Spokane Valley, contributed $50. Elizabeth Christy, of Spokane, donated $50. Denise Garceau sent $50 via PayPal, as did Duanita Higgins.

Gail Kiser, of Spokane, sent $35. George Lehman, of Spokane Valley, gave $25 in memory of Martha Lehman.

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