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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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‘You are the Christmas Bureau’: As donation drive nears opening, volunteers get a crash course in holiday cheer

Volunteer Damon Taam shares a laugh as he adds batteries to a toy dinosaur for the Christmas Bureau on Tuesday at the Spokane Fair and Expo Center.  (Kathy Plonka/The Spokesman-Review)
Volunteer Damon Taam shares a laugh as he adds batteries to a toy dinosaur for the Christmas Bureau on Tuesday at the Spokane Fair and Expo Center. (Kathy Plonka/The Spokesman-Review)
By Nina Culver The Spokesman-Review

Christmas Bureau volunteers gathered Thursday to learn their way around the new building at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center and be trained in their assigned tasks.

Christmas Bureau Coordinator Sierra Heinen greeted all the old and new faces, and pointed out the “expert” volunteers who could answer any questions the new volunteers might have. She urged them all to embody the holiday spirit and said that visiting the Christmas Bureau can have a lasting impact on recipients.

“Our clients don’t necessarily remember what they received from us, but they remember how they were treated,” she said.

Heinen emphasized the importance of trauma-informed care, which recognizes that most people have suffered some sort of traumatic experience in their lives.

“We are here to make a difference in our clients’ lives,” she said. “We want to do our best not to retraumatize people who are already traumatized.”

Some people who come will want to talk about their stories, Heinen said. “Just be a pair of listening, kind ears,” she said.

Fawn Schott, director of the Volunteers of America, also welcomed the volunteers. “The past couple of years have been tough for all of us,” she said. “Thank you to the staff who worked all year to do this.”

Schott emphasized that without the Christmas Bureau, many families would not be able to celebrate Christmas with gifts and a little something special for the dinner table.

There was also a safety lecture, and volunteers were informed about the security presence at the Bureau. Heinen urged volunteers to say something if they see something unusual or feel unsafe.

But the overall message was one of holiday spirit and working together to make a difference in the lives of those who will visit the fairgrounds starting Saturday. “Look around this room,” said volunteer coordinator Brigid Krause. “You are the Christmas Bureau.”


People are responding to the request to help those in need this holiday season, with new donations of $23,965 bringing the total raised so far to $97,218.10. The goal this year is to collect $535,000 to purchase food vouchers for families, as well as a toy and a book for each child.

Jeff Johnson, president of Black Commercial Inc., donated $10,000 via PayPal. “NAI Black is thankful to be able to support The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund and its mission to help those in need in our community during the holidays,” he wrote.

The law firm of Douglas Eden donated $6,000, writing “A very big ‘Thank you’ to each of you at The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund for your good work in making the holidays a special time for so many people. Each of us at Douglas Eden are happy to make our annual gift to The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund. We know the difficulties faced by those in our community who have been touched by COVID-19, and we want to join in supporting them with a gift of $6,000 to families in need. By joining with others in Spokane, we want to spread holiday peace, joy and sharing in our community.”

The letter was signed by Ronald P. Douglas, William D. Eden, Marc A. Phillips, Brent T. Stanyer, Ryan M. Douglas, Diane J. Kiepe, Kjirstin Graham, Anita Anderson, Brandi Morhardt, Sandy Saty and Cory Johnson.

Terry Deno gave $1,025 via PayPal. “To my fellow retirees: Let’s get on board and donate to a wonderful organization,” he wrote. Sean and Gretchen LaSalle donated $1,000 via PayPal, writing “Merry Christmas! Spread love and be good to one another.”

Fred and Norrine Potts, of Spokane, gave $500, as did Robert Weigand, also of Spokane. Michael and Sydney Perrizo sent $500 via PayPal “in memory of Lee and Diane Bergstrom. Thank you for carrying on their giving spirit.”

An anonymous Colbert donor gave $300. The Repp Family (Deb, Pam and Jim), of Spokane Valley, gave $250, writing “May this year bring out the best in all of us. Joy, health and happiness to all.” Deborah Pierce sent $250 via PayPal.

Kathy Eaton, of Spokane, donated $200 in memory of Mike Eaton. Wayne Atwood, of Spokane, gave $200. An anonymous Cheney donor sent $200. Dennis Bunkers donated $200 via PayPal, as did Gary Mundel. Stephanie Jamison contributed $200 via PayPal.

William and Eileen Dittman, of Spokane, gave $150. James Sayles gave $120 via PayPal.

Gayle and Fred Fox, of Spokane, donated $100, writing “Thank you for all you do for our community families and especially the kids.” Marilyn and John Miller, of Spokane Valley, sent $100. Dennis and Lynda Sheehan, of Liberty Lake, contributed $100. Bridget Carstens gave $100 via PayPal “in honor of and in deepest appreciation for Brigid Krause, Christmas Bureau volunteer coordinator.”

Donna Stovall gave $100 via PayPal, as did Bistro Inc. and Janet Bostian. Daniel McLay contributed $100 via PayPal, as did an anonymous donor.

Kevin Isherwood, of Spokane, gave $100. “Thanks, and Christmas joy!” he wrote. Jerry Anderson donated $100 via PayPal. Jan Ashdown, of Chattaroy, sent $100. “Merry Christmas from the Ashdowns,” she wrote. Kristin Richardson, of Seattle, gave $100 via PayPal. Paul Schmidt contributed $100 via PayPal.

Scott Engstrom contributed $80 via PayPal. Lynn and Michael Young, of Greenacres, gave $75.

Nancy Moore and Otto Vegele, of Spokane Valley, sent $50, writing “Thank you for the wonderful work you do each year to give cheer and hope where they are most needed.” Mary Dilley gave $50 via PayPal, as did Fred Williams and Eric Worden.

The Northwest Treasure Hunters Club gave $50. Marcia Downing and Dale Hoisington each sent $50 via Pay Pal. Theresa Schimmels donated $50 via PayPal “in memory of my parents, Gary and Myrna Schimmels.” Elizabeth Justice contributed $50 via PayPal, as did Beverly Gibb and Terryl Martin.

Vicki McBride contributed $25 via PayPal. Sue Maggio gave $20 via PayPal, as did Constance Brooker.

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