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

Christmas Bureau fund nearing $600,000

By Nina Culver The Spokesman-Review

Christmas is almost here and the generosity of the Spokane area community means there will be a little something extra on the kitchen table and gifts for the children in thousands of families.

The need was up this year, which has been unprecedented in many ways. People have lost jobs. Businesses have closed doors, temporarily and permanently. It has been the role of the Christmas Bureau for 75 years to help those who need assistance to make Christmas a little brighter, especially for the children who may not understand why there’s no present on Christmas morning.

This year was also unprecedented for the Christmas Bureau, which was forced to switch to a virtual model at the last minute. Grocery store vouchers were mailed to families in need and gift cards for toys were emailed from a major national retailer so there would still be gifts under the tree.

A total of 30,863 people in 8,386 households applied for assistance online this year. Those households included 16,166 children. Each family got a grocery store voucher in an amount based on household size. The totals were an increase from the 27,548 people in 7,973 households helped in 2019.

There were 3,592 toy gift cards distributed to those most in need this year, providing gifts to 9,290 children. The gift cards were an unexpected, unbudgeted expense this year. Organizers spent all year buying books and toys as usual, but were unable to distribute them when they arrived because it wasn’t safe for hundreds of volunteers to gather to give them away during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a year that has been dire for so many, in an area that also supports organizations like Toys for Tots and the Salvation Army Red Kettle Drive, the community has rallied to support this important annual tradition.

Thousands of donors have given gifts to support the mission of the Christmas Bureau, which is to bring a brighter Christmas to those in need. And thousands of families in the Inland Northwest are grateful for the steadfast support of Christmas Bureau donors.

Recipient Britney McGinnis, who was out of work for weeks without pay after she caught COVID-19, is grateful for the help she got to make Christmas better for her four children. “It helped a lot,” she said. “I’m just really, really thankful.”

And the assistance also provided a boost to Evelyn Tahkeal-Eakin, who struggles to support her family working for minimum wage while her husband cares for their three young children. She’s grateful for the food vouchers and toys for her children. “Every little bit counts,” she said.


The year-to-date total now stands at $591,586.03 thanks to a bump from $8,380 in new donations.

Justus Bag Company Inc., of Spokane Valley, donated $5,000. “As we are all aware, 2020 has been a year full of extremes and challenges,” wrote Darin Justus. “So much has happened to our city and country, it is just devastating. This year, however, we are blessed, once again, to be able to contribute to the Christmas Fund. So, in honor of “Curly” and Dorothy Justus, we are happy to enclose $5,000 to The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund. Merry Christmas to all!”

Nancy Evans and Greg MacDonald, of Spokane, gave $1,000. “Enclosed please find our Christmas donation of $1,000 in support of the services you provide to the underserved adults and children in the Spokane area during this Christmas season,” they wrote. “This year, more than ever, we wish you every success in reaching your goal! We thank you for the kindness you show to those who need it most.”

BPS Supply Co. Inc., of Spokane, gave $500. “BPS Supply Company is very blessed to have the support of our fabricator and customer base,” they write. “We would like to donate $500 for the less fortunate of Spokane because we want everyone to have a very Merry Christmas. A big ‘Thank you’ to The Spokesman-Review, the volunteers and all the front-line workers during this pandemic. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the BPS Team.”

Rich Tschirgi and Sheela Steele donated $500. Craig Gruening, of Spokane, donated $400.

Albert Materi, of Spokane, sent $300. “I feel very blessed to be able to help, in memory of my parents and all six of my siblings who have gone to their eternal resting place,” he wrote. Niles and Patty Selden, of Spokane, gave $300, writing “Thank you for doing this. Good job.”

Spoke ‘N Sport, of Spokane, donated $250. Ray Looper, of Spokane, donated $200 “in loving memory of my wife, Judy Looper.”

Jan and Larry Ashdown, of Chattaroy, gave $100, writing “Thank you for helping others.” An anonymous Spokane donor contributed $100, as did Margaret Sheridan, of Spokane. Michael and Sandra Povich, of Spokane, donated $100.

Douglas and Marilyn Lloyd, of Spokane, sent $30.