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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Toy vouchers reaching families as donors boost Christmas Fund

Rogers High School 11th-grader Kelby Bell reads to Elaina Fields, 18 months, at the Christmas Bureau at the Spokane County Fairgrounds on Dec. 18, 2018.  (KATHY PLONKA)
By Nina Culver The Spokesman-Review

The 3,500 toy vouchers being distributed by the Christmas Bureau this year began arriving in the email inboxes of recipients this week in the form of electronic gift cards to a major national retailer.

The amount of the gift card varies depending on the number of children in the home. Recipients who were notified that they would be receiving a voucher should check for an email from

A last-minute switch to vouchers was made after new restrictions enacted by Gov. Jay Inslee due to rising COVID-19 cases made the drive-thru distribution of toys unworkable.

That’s primarily because a drive-thru distribution still would have required hundreds of volunteers to work in close quarters for nearly two weeks to prepare the custom gift baskets for each family.

The issue has been that the toys the Christmas Bureau ordered all year arrived and had to be paid for even though they will sit in storage until next year. The toy vouchers were not planned for or funded, leaving organizers scrambling to find money.

But generous people and businesses in the community have responded, sending an ever-increasing number of donations that appears to be on track to beat the fundraising goal of $535,000. New donations of $74,851 bring the year-to-date total to $505,541.60, only a short distance from the goal.


Red Diamond Construction and Diamond Asphalt Paving, of Spokane, each donated $7,500. “On behalf of our employees from both companies, we are donating $7,500 from each company,” Mike Schimmels wrote. “We encourage other contractors to contribute to the Christmas Bureau fund.”

The Bergquist Foundation gave $5,000. “In the past you have received a letter from Larry Small along with a check from the Bergquist Foundation to support your activities in the community,” board president Kenneth Roberts wrote. “Larry has decided to retire from the Board and from his office as president … (He) has been instrumental in active philanthropy over the years and the work of the foundation will be a legacy that will carry on years into the future. Thank you for all your efforts in serving the needs of the community at this difficult time.”

Plese Realty, of Spokane, donated $5,000. “Our small, family-owned real estate company has always encouraged our team in supporting local charities, with many generously (albeit discreetly) supporting causes closest to their own hearts every year,” Vic Plese wrote. “As much as I hate to say it, the Christmas Bureau has always seemed to be so successful in their endeavor, with so much community support, that we felt our modest donations may have more impact elsewhere. Now, with so many that have supported the Christmas Bureau being negatively affected by this pandemic and some struggling to even stay open for business, we felt compelled to give directly to this cause this year and truly hope others that have felt this way in the past will follow our lead.

“On behalf of our family of brokers, business partners, home builders and loyal clients who have kept us busy when so many are not, we happily enclose this check to help make Christmas better for those most in need. I encourage other small, independent real estate firms (which comprise the majority of the 170 real estate brokerages in Spokane) to support this worthy cause during these troubling times.”

An anonymous donor sent $5,000. The Fosseen Foundation, of Spokane, gave $5,000. “Your passion for this project has been constant,” Sharon Fosseen wrote in a letter addressed to Christmas Bureau Volunteer Coordinator Brigid Krause. “However, this year it has taken much more than passion. It has taken complete restructuring, creativity and unbelievable need in this time of COVID. Families that have never had to use the Bureau have had to do so this year. Everything is different and sometimes changes week to week. It is amazing that all of your volunteers have been able to make it work at all. For that reason, just one time, we have increased our donation to $5,000 in your honor.

“The community has come to physically help wherever and however they can and all are inspiring. Nobody gave up. They all find a way. Please convey our gratitude for all of them and bless each and every one of you.”

An anonymous Spokane donor gave $5,000, writing, “Merry Christmas and thank you for all that you do to bring Christmas to so many. This year we would like to make our donation in the name of a very special person to us, one who has worked in our office for over 40 years. One who is considered a saint for all that she does and for all that she is. She is retiring after all these years and we could not think of a better way to thank her than to give to you in her name, paying it forward so to speak. Her name is Jan, and we hope she begins to enjoy her time. Again, thank you for being special saints of Christmas.”

The Klaue Family Foundation donated $4,000. “The Foundation is once again blessed to be able to contribute to the Christmas Fund,” David Klaue wrote. “We are very thankful we are able to continue to contribute and be a part of a program that brings joy, brightness and many blessings to the families and organizations in need. The spirit and generosity of the Spokane community has helped many families experience the true meaning of Christmas. The benevolent providence and gift of giving to assist those less fortunate is rewarding, especially in these unprecedented economic and pandemic times. Wishing you a very blessed 2021.”

State Bank Northwest gave $2,500, writing, “On behalf of all the customers at State Bank, we’d like to donate to The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund. Thank you for all you do for our community! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!”

The David Christy Insurance Agency donated $1,500. “Thank you for helping families,” Christy wrote. “From the 15 staff in our office, we hope this helps reach more people.” Steven Goebel donated $1,500.

An anonymous donor gave $1,000. Terren Roloff and Brad Ennis, of Spokane, donated $1,000. “My husband and I would like to honor my mother, Donna Roloff, who recently died,” they wrote. “Mom was a generous person who volunteered for many causes, including the Christmas Bureau for many years. If she were here, she would increase her usual gift as we have to acknowledge the difficulties so many are experiencing right now. In honor of mom, we are happy to contribute $1,000.”

Frank and Jeanette Ide, of Spokane, donated $1,000. “A gift from the Ide grandchildren – hoping to bless others as we have been blessed,” they wrote. Marsha and Larry Hitchcock, of Spokane, sent $1,000. Two anonymous donations of $1,000 each were received in the same envelope. “Jesus is the reason for the season,” they wrote. “Wishing all the wonderful volunteers a very merry, merry Christmas. (From) two sisters in memory of mom, dad, Peggy, Rick and Craig.”

An anonymous Liberty Lake donor gave $600.

Linda Martin, of Spokane, contributed $500. Lawrence Kiewert, of Deer Park, gave $500, as did Scott Baumgartner, of Spokane. An anonymous Cheney donor gave $500 “in memory of Kathy Stockbridge, retired SPS teacher.” Ann and Wolfgang Fiebing, of Spokane, sent $500. “Thank you all volunteers!” they wrote. William Dinneen, of Spokane, donated $500. An anonymous Spokane donor sent $500.

Joe and Pam Ridlington, of Mead, donated $450. “We thank all the workers who have worked so hard to make the fund work this year,” they wrote.

Linda Schauble, of Pullman, gave $400 “in memory of Betty J. Schauble, our mother and grandmother, and the heart and soul of our family. We are forever grateful for her enduring love, support and care, and we are hopeful that this gift will help to make other families Christmases a little brighter this year during this difficult time.”

Karen and Steve Heaps, of Spokane Valley, gave $350, writing, “As kids we always had fun Christmases. We hope this will help some kids to do likewise this year.”

Steven and Linda Swartley, of Spokane, donated $300. An anonymous Spokane donor gave $300, writing, “So much need this year. Wish this could be more, but feel fortunate to be able to help.” Sandra Czernik, of Airway Heights, contributed $300. “Thank you for the happiness you bring to so many of our neighbors in the community,” she wrote. “Thank you to all the volunteers who help make this a wonderful Christmas.”

George and Mary Doran, of Spokane, gave $300, writing, “Thank you for all your good works.” An anonymous Greenacres donor sent $300, writing, “Thank you for your tremendous effort to support those people in need at Christmas time.” Bob and Judy Lee, of Sun City West, Arizona, donated $300 “in memory of our grandson, Austin McKenzie, and parents Ken and Alice Smith and Hugh and Catherine Lee.”

An anonymous Spokane donor sent $300. An anonymous Spokane Valley donor gave $300. William and Nancy Henry, of Spokane, sent $300 “in memory of our parents, Bo and Mary Henry and Robert and Marian Heglar. Thank you for all you do!”

An anonymous Spokane donor gave $300, writing, “Thank you for the joy you bring to families.” An anonymous Spokane Valley donor sent $300, writing, “Thanks so much for the great job. I have been giving for 62 years.” Evelyn DeFoe, of Spokane, contributed $300. “Thank you for the wonderful services you provide every year to our community,” she wrote.

An anonymous Spokane donor gave $250. Jerry Robinson, of Spokane, sent $250 in memory of Donna Roloff. “Her joy helping parents choose books for their children was wonderful to see,” he wrote. Dan and Scooter Mahoney, of Spokane, donated $250. “Thank you for everything you do to make the lives of children better,” they wrote. “And a special ‘Thank you!’ to all the wonderful volunteers who give so much of their time and energy to make this happen. It is our pleasure to be able to contribute to this wonderful cause in memory of Donna Roloff, who volunteered for nearly 20 years at the Christmas Bureau.”

David and Cindy Heitstuman, of Spokane Valley, sent $250, writing, “We hope this will help. Merry Christmas.” An anonymous Deer Park donor gave $250 “in loving memory of Robert and Joey Hammes, owners of a newspaper for over 45 years, and Mike Hammes.” Mike and Sydney Perrizo, of Spokane, sent $250 “in memory of Lee and Diane Bergstrom, who in turn gave all of us joy.”

Jim and Lynn Kimmel, of Spokane, contributed $250. Sandy Fruetel, of Mead, contributed $250. “Thanks for all you do to make the holidays a little brighter for so many!” she wrote. Theresa Omans, of Spokane, gave $250.

An anonymous Spokane donor sent $200. Bob and Kathy Bohlen, of Spokane, donated $200. David and Joann Savage, of Mead, donated $200. “Thank you for all the wonderful work all of you do for our community each Christmas season,” they wrote. “We are sending this in memory of Ken Spilker, a longtime supporter of Catholic Charities.”

Margaret Keough, of Spokane, gave $200 “in memory of two special friends, Gwen Hill and Melody Chesnut. I miss being a part of the Christmas Bureau this year and hope this will help brighten Christmas for someone who needs a bit of help.” Sharon and William Beck, of Otis Orchards, sent $200, as did Mike and Christie Hinnen, of Spokane. John Campbell and Jolene Britton, of Spokane, donated $200.

Dorothy Newbill, of Otis Orchards, donated $200 “in memory of a very dear granddaughter, Jenni.” Melvin and Gloria McCuddin, of Spokane, gave $200. An anonymous Spokane donor sent $200, writing, “Please accept this donation to help make the Christmas season better for someone. Thank you and Merry Christmas.”

Carol Kriegh, of Cheney, contributed $200. “My book club always donates to the Christmas Fund,” she wrote. “While we haven’t met much this year, we still wanted to donate.” Pat and James Lynass, of Spokane, sent $200. “Christmas blessings to all!” they wrote. “Thanks to all who help with this cause.”

Barry Bergau, of Spokane, gave $150. “Please accept this donation to The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund in Debbie Montgomery’s name. It is my annual Christmas gift to her.” Deanne Boutz, of Spokane, donated $150 in memory of her husband, who died this year. “Michael was always so generous in giving of his time and money to help the less fortunate,” she wrote.

Thomas and Elizabeth Swanson, of Spokane, sent $150. Don and Carolyn Tietz, of Elk, donated $150. “Thank you for your hard work and dedication to make this happen for the kids – especially this year!” they wrote.

Mike and Doreen Lewis, of Spokane Valley, donated $126. “Merry Christmas to all,” they wrote. Jack and Phyllis Worden, of Spokane, gave $125.

Melanie Delaney, of Spokane, contributed $120. “Our Bunco group hasn’t been able to meet since the pandemic started, so we decided to donate half of our dues to the Christmas Fund,” she wrote. “We all believe in helping our wonderful community: Melanie, Nancy, Sue, Kathy, Marcia, Beth, Janice, Claudia, Kathy, Pat, Sheryl and Saundra.”

An anonymous donor sent $100. An anonymous Spokane donor gave $100, writing, “My late husband and I gave to your fund for years. Thank you for all you do!” Joseph Sykes, of Liberty Lake, donated $100. Mike and Cheryl McQuesten, of Colbert, contributed $100, as did Alex Rizzuto, of Spokane.

Thomas and Melanie Bryan, of Spokane, gave $100, writing, “You do a great job!” Kris Spelman, of Spokane, donated $100 “in loving memory of my grandmother, Violet Burgunder, and great aunt, Elsie Altin. Merry Christmas!” Kenneth and Helen Evans, of Spokane, contributed $100. Jim and Gwen Hanson, of Kettle Falls, gave $100.

Bonnie and Bob Gregson, of Spokane, sent $100, as did Robert and Pansy George, also of Spokane. An anonymous donor from Ione, Washington, gave $100 in memory of Patti Fowler. Kent and Sharon Ohland, of Spokane Valley, donated $100, writing, “We continue to honor our late parents, Russ and Helen Inman and Vern and Jeri Ohland, who never missed donating to the fund every year! We hope this year’s fund surpasses previous years, as the need is far greater. Thanks for all you do in making the fund a success. Merry Christmas and the best to all of the volunteers!”

Bob and Angie Richard, of Spokane, contributed $100. An anonymous Spokane donor gave $100 “in honor of Monsignor Frank Bach, for his years of service to the Christmas Bureau.” Sandra Boudreaux, of Spokane, gave $100, as did an anonymous Spokane donor. Jeri Chalich, of Spokane, donated $100, as did Lenore Romney, also of Spokane.

Kathy and Jack Ossello, of Spokane, sent $100. “This donation to the Christmas Bureau is given in honor of Kathy Lackie’s birthday,” they wrote. “Kathy is a longtime volunteer at the Christmas Bureau.” R.W. Ulberg and Pamela Medley, of Spokane, contributed $100. Gary Cooper, of Spokane, gave $100. Kate and Jim Jones, of Spokane, donated $100. Regan and Sandra Hulbert, of Spokane Valley, sent $100.

Barry and Deborah Cross, of Spokane, gave $100. “Thank you for your yearly efforts to make the new year a happy and safe one for all the folks that need that added level of support – especially during the Christmas season. As before, the Cross family would like this donation to be made in the memory of Ryan A. Cross. Thank you again for your and all the volunteer’s efforts this season.”

Thomas and Michelle Solberg, of Spokane, donated $100 “in memory of our parents, Bill and Kate Solberg and George and Norma McNally.” Mike and Janie Aubrey, of Spokane, contributed $100. An anonymous Spokane donor gave $100, writing, “To all at the Christmas Bureau, bless you for all you do.”

Teri and Paddy Inman, of Mead, sent $100. “Thank you for the wonderful joy and hope you being every year to so many families in the community,” they wrote. “The joy you bring is immeasurable.” Linda and Doug Metcalfe, of Spokane, donated $100. “Thank you for making Christmas special for so many,” they wrote.

Randall Greyerbiehl and Trudy Miller, of Spokane, donated $100, as did Robert and Pam Kennedy, also of Spokane. John and Marilyn Miller, of Spokane Valley, sent $100. Ann Foss, of Spokane, gave $100. “My donation is in memory and honor of my husband, Donald Foss, a 30-year military career, USMC, and 73 years of marriage,” she wrote. “Semper Fi.”

An anonymous Spokane donor gave $100. Barbara Van Leuven, of Spokane, sent $100. William Stanley contributed $100. Pat and Janine Maggart, of Spokane, donated $100, as did Stephen Howe, also of Spokane. Jill and Jerry Skogstad, of Spokane, donated $100.

Katherine Wooley, of Spokane, gave $75.

An anonymous donor gave $50, writing, “Thank you for what you do!” Mary and Robert Morgan, of Spokane, contributed $50, as did Susan Moyer, of Spokane. Marcus Lehmann, of Spokane, gave $50, as did Raymond and Patricia Mooney. Diane and William Codd gave $50, as did an anonymous donor from Newport, Washington.

Gelene and William Griffiths, of Nine Mile Falls, sent $50, as did Dawn Abernathy and Jennifer Gibbs, of Spokane. Ada Honda, of Spokane, gave $50, writing, “Thank you for the outstanding service to our community in need.” Carol Barber, of Spokane, contributed $50.

Denise and Ian Potter sent $50 “in memory of Gene Dondanville and George Potter.” Deanna Sommers, of Spokane, gave $50. Michael Bonderenko, of Coulee City, donated $50.

Jane Johnson, of Spokane, contributed $30. “Thank you, Christmas Bureau,” she wrote. “Thinking of Chris Biek and Ted. Missing volunteering this year for the 2020 year.” Cindie Treece, of Spokane, gave $30.

Linda Young, of Spokane, sent $25 “in memory of my father, Ervin Bendewald.” Kirsten Sodeman gave $25. Lawrence Main, of Spokane, contributed $25.

Laura Slentz, of Spokane, contributed $20.

How to donate

By mail: Checks may be mailed to The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund, P.O. Box 516, Spokane, WA 99210. Donations must be received by Dec. 28.

In person: Bring your donation to the lobby of The Spokesman-Review at 999 W. Riverside Ave. by Dec 28. Please mark prominently, CHRISTMAS FUND. If you would like a receipt sent to you, include your mailing address or email address.

Online: Visit and click the PayPal button. Donations must be made by Dec. 27 in order to allow time for processing.

If you’d like us to send you a receipt for your donation, make sure to include your mailing address in PayPal’s comment box. If you’d like a receipt via email, just include a valid email address. In either case, we won’t share your information with anyone or use it for any other reason. And feel free to use the comment box to tell us anything you’d like.


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