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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Christmas Bureau helps mother who struggled with COVID-19

By Nina Culver The Spokesman-Review

Britney McGinnis is a single working mother with four children in the home and getting by is a struggle in normal times. When she got sick with COVID-19 last month, it threw everything for a loop.

“It was a Monday,” McGinnis said. “I wasn’t feeling too well.”

It started with a headache, then body aches. She thought she had the flu and was taking Theraflu, but it didn’t help. Then she began getting more symptoms. “I lost my smell and taste,” she said.

McGinnis tested positive for COVID-19 and was quite sick for a while, but she didn’t have to go to the hospital. She had a cough, a bad sore throat and fatigue. Remarkably, only one of her children got sick.

“He didn’t have a really bad case,” she said.

She’s grateful that it wasn’t worse. “I was pretty nervous at first,” she said. “I think it’s worse than the flu.”

Getting sick meant McGinnis couldn’t do her job working on a care team with American Behavioral Health. She applied for unemployment, but still hasn’t heard if she will be receiving any money. She’s feeling better now and expects to go back to work next week, but over a month without a paycheck put a crimp in her Christmas plans.

She received a grocery store voucher from the Christmas Bureau and has been notified she’ll be receiving a toy voucher as well. “It helped a lot,” she said. “I’m just really, really thankful.”

McGinnis has been to the Christmas Bureau a few times before, when the Bureau was an in-person event at the Spokane County Fairgrounds. She first learned about it from her aunt, and she and a cousin used to come down together to get toys for their children. It’s always made a big difference in her children’s Christmas celebration, she said.

“It’s awesome that they do this for people,” she said.


Christmas is coming, whether we’re ready or not, and donations continue to come in to fund the Christmas Bureau. The goal this year is to raise $535,000 and new donations of $27,510 have brought the year-to-date total to $370,355.33.

Chris Goddard donated $1,050 via PayPal. John and Christeena Blasen, of Spokane, donated $1,000. Elaine Couture sent $1,000 via PayPal, as did Larry Bishop. Shannon Votava gave $1,000 via PayPal “in loving memory of Al and Lilian Rudolf, who taught me the joy of giving.” Melinda Greene donated $1,000 via PayPal. Glenn Breen gave $1,000 via PayPal.

Terry Deno gave $925 via PayPal. Sheila Leek donated $800 via PayPal. “Cher concert tickets refund in memory of Sarah Manning Pearson from eight of her loving Cher fan friends,” she wrote. “Challenging everyone in Spokane who received their Cher ticket refund to donate it to the Christmas Fund!”

Bruce and Kathy Bixler, of Spokane, gave $500 “in memory of Don Kelly with the SR Christmas Fund.” Ryan Baddeley sent $500 via PayPal, writing “Happy to help, especially during the pandemic!”

Randy Russell of RLR Leadership Consulting gave $500 via PayPal. “Merry Christmas to everyone – may the holidays be a blessing to you and your family!” he wrote. Marie Dawson contributed $500 via PayPal, as did Wilma Engstrom.

An anonymous donor contributed $500 via PayPal “in loving memory of my mother, Eunhi Hong.” Paul Jalufka contributed $500 via PayPal in honor of Jean Jalufka. Gary Marks gave $500 via PayPal, as did Ashli Myers. Warren Stout sent $500 via PayPal “in memory of my wife, Charlotte, who recruited me to volunteer at the Christmas Bureau, but her volunteer time ended too soon.”

Jean Moss, of Spokane Valley, sent $450. Larry Meyers gave $400 via PayPal.

Mary Kerr, of Spokane, sent $300. Terri and Dan Schmarr, of Liberty Lake, sent $400 via PayPal “in memory of Bill Kuch, whose work at the White Elephant helped provide toys and put smiles on the faces of hundreds of children every Christmas.” Andrew Walker contributed $300 via PayPal.

An anonymous donor gave $300 via PayPal, writing “Thank you so much for your efforts in this important work.” Amy Flowers donated $300 via PayPal, writing “This is in honor of River Ridge Hardware, who paid it forward to help when the Grinch tried to steal Christmas. And also to my parents, who demonstrate service to others daily.”

Gerald and Carole Williams, of Spokane, gave $250. The following donors each gave $250 via PayPal: Janice House, Patrick Cerutti, Jim Kershner, Joanne Turner, Tom and Molly Beil, Susan Wotring, Susan Devaney and Keith Kadel.

Shirley Schatz, of Spokane, donated $200 “in loving memory of my husband, Gene, and daughter, Karen. Blessings to one and all!” Milo and Cheryl Hughes, of Moses Lake, gave $200. Lois and Oscar Thomason, of Spokane, contributed $200. Rosemary Shockley, of Spokane Valley, donated $200. Ronna Rico donated $200 via PayPal, writing “Merry Christmas and Happy 2020.”

Gary and Lois Mundel, of Spokane, donated $200. The following donors each sent $200 via PayPal: Dale Soden, Evelyn Torkelson, Kenneth Hill, Dean Duncan, Paul Grubb, Kathleen Shirley and Mary Kimmel. Michel Byram donated $200 via PayPal in memory of Stephanie and Staci.

Marcia Dorwin sent $200 via PayPal, writing “Thank you for making Christmas a little brighter for our neighbors.” Joe Jovanovich donated $200 via PayPal. “Thanks for all you’ve done for so many years and especially in this most trying one,” he wrote. An anonymous donor sent $200 via PayPal.

The Mark and Brenda Davis Living Trust, of Deer Park, donated $150. Elizabeth Schneider sent $150 via PayPal.

Thomas Lawson gave $125 via PayPal. Kevin Sargeant donated $105 via PayPal.

An anonymous Medical Lake donor gave $100. James and Marilyn Kirschbaum, of Spokane, donated $100. An anonymous Cheney donor sent $100. Jose and Anna Maria Cepeda, of Spokane, sent $100. Lynn Reilly, of Spokane, gave $100 in memory of Kenneth J. Reilly.

The following donors each gave $100 via PayPal: Ann Shaw, Jodi Bennin, Susan Shaw, Erin O’Halloran-Foerg, Cynthia Pace, Vince Beck, Camilla Tilford, Daniel Sander, Heather Foe, David Lafferty, Linda Greene, Cindy McMahon, Barbara Clark, Marilyn Frei, Gary Kelly, David Hall and Heather Greenberg.

K.L. and Antonia Manus, of Otis Orchards, donated $100. Christel Aigner, of Spokane, sent $100. John and Nataschia Ginsburg, of Spokane, gave $100. Joe Guerrinha, of Spokane Valley, gave $100 in memory of Joaquim and Candida Guerrinha. Clarence and Luella Palmer, of Spokane, sent $100.

An anonymous donor gave $100 via PayPal. Judith Madden sent $100 via PayPal, writing “Thank you Christmas Bureau and volunteers for all you do! My family is so grateful this holiday season for all we have and would like to help out other families. Happy holidays!”

Jean Huber donated $100 via PayPal “in memory of my parents, Art and Freida Huber.”

Carol Phelps, of Spokane, donated $75. Barbara Hagedorn sent $75 via PayPal. Loyce Lewis, of Spokane, gave $75.

Barbara Jewell Potter sent $55 via PayPal. Mary Christine Carson gave $55 via PayPal “in honor of my wonderful sister, Sharon Carson!”

Marion and Michael Fietek, of Cheney, contributed $50. Wayne and Marian Nelson, of Spokane, gave $50. Norman and Ann English, of Spokane, donated $50, writing “Not much but hope it helps!” Mike and Dorothy McMurtery, of Spokane, sent $50.

The following donors each sent $50 via PayPal: Sharon Quigley, Donna Fleming, Terryl Martin, Peter Weller, John Moulton, Steve Tilque, Barbara Beck, Ann Gorman, Jeanne Case, David Leach, Jenifer Passmore, Scott Rehn, Deborah Munhall, Cindy Johnson, Brian Abraham, Rebecca Menzel, Larry Hoffman and Kellie Crisp.

Vicki McBride sent $50 via PayPal “in memory of our daughter, Katy McBride Owsley.” Julia Carrell gave $50 via PayPal. “This donation is in loving memory of my father, Michael T. Dobler,” she wrote. “As a longtime social worker at Frontier, his heart was full of compassion for others.”

Deborah Carpenter sent $40 via PayPal. Krista Fretheim donated $35 via PayPal. Kathi Schlieder gave $30 via PayPal.

Gene Syms sent $25 via PayPal, as did Donal Hartman. Elizabeth Simonich gave $25 via PayPal. Grant and Carole Deeble, of Spokane, gave $20. Michael Kuntz sent $20 via PayPal.