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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Clear vision: Volunteer Alco Canfield may be blind but she is grateful to help make Christmas special this year

Alco Canfield is a volunteer at the Christmas Bureau.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Alco Canfield is a volunteer at the Christmas Bureau. (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW) Buy this photo
By Nina Culver The Spokesman-Review

Alco Canfield is one of the many new volunteers who signed up to help at this year’s Christmas Bureau to give out food vouchers, toys and books to families in need of a little boost at Christmas.

But Canfield won’t be able to see the smiles on everyone’s faces as they pick out toys and books for their children. She’s been blind nearly since birth, born premature and given too much oxygen, which damaged her eyes. “I don’t remember any vision,” she said.

She will be among the volunteers bagging gifts for recipients to carry out to their cars starting today.

“I think I can manage that,” she said. “I’m just glad I can help out in some small way.”

Canfield has learned many ways to adapt to her blindness over the years. She surfs the internet with the help of a text reader program and carries an electronic Braille device that she can use to go online, take notes and do other tasks.

She said she enjoys volunteering to help others. “I’m into service,” she said. “I don’t want to just take up space.”

Canfield said she’s used to people assuming she can’t do things because she’s blind.

“I don’t think people expect someone with a visible disability to do this,” she said. “That’s another reason I want to do this, to interrupt that stereotype.”

She has lived in the Spokane area off and on since the 1970s. She raised her daughter in Spokane Valley. “I just came back from Texas,” she said. “I was there for three years. I just missed the Northwest. I love Spokane.”

She’s happy to be participating in the Bureau and said she hopes she can make a difference. She confessed to being a little unsure about what to expect.

“I don’t know what I’m in for,” she said. “I’m just glad I can help.”

DonationsNew donations of $14,700 have arrived for the Christmas Bureau, bringing the year-to-date total to $111,918.10, which is ever closer to the goal of $535,000.

An anonymous Spokane donor gave $10,000, writing, “With all good wishes for the most spectacular Christmas Fund ever! We are thrilled to be able to donate a substantial amount at this time in our lives.”

Dr. Linda Lee H. Wood, of Colbert, donated $1,000. “Thank you for all that you do,” she wrote. Gail and Roberta Keeling, of Otis Orchards, sent $1,000, writing “Our children are grown and our grandsons are almost all grown. We now have a beautiful 1 ½ year old great-grandson, Camden Ray Merkley. In his honor we send this check to help those in need.”

Rick and Burma Williams, of Spokane, gave $1,000, writing “The Christmas Fund is the finest tradition in Spokane. Thanks to all on The Spokesman-Review, Volunteers of America and Catholic Charities and the many other volunteers who make this happen. We are glad we are able to be a small part of it with this donation.”

Judith Hudson, of Spokane, sent $500. “This is a season of hope and gratitude,” she wrote. “I am grateful for all the volunteers who make the Christmas Bureau possible. I am hopeful that many will be generous in helping those in need.”

Bob and Deborah Glaza, of Veradale, gave $250.

Mary Stohr and Craig Hemmens, of Spokane, donated $100, writing “Thanks for all you do for Spokane!” An anonymous Spokane donor gave $100. Sharma Shields, of Spokane, contributed $100. Bob and Dorothy Yohe, of Spirit Lake, Idaho, donated $100, writing, “Our sincere thanks to all the volunteers who work so hard to make the Christmas Bureau a success. We are happy to give in memory of our son, Ken Anderson.”

Leona Dexter, of Spokane, donated $100. “Thank you once again for your efforts for all the children and thanks to the many volunteers,” she wrote. John and Connie Overdorff, of Otis Orchards, gave $100. Marylu and Emmett Arndt, of Spokane, sent $100, writing “Christmas wishes to all the volunteers and families this holiday season. Peace to all!” Harley and Melanie Rickord, of Spokane, contributed $100.

Dean and Merdy Hendrikson, of Spokane Valley, gave $50 “in loving memory of our parents.” An anonymous Spokane donor sent $50, writing, “I’m so happy to be able to help others at Christmas time. Thank you for making it possible.”

Barry and Deborah Cross, of Spokane, gave $50. “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 now during the Christmas season,” they wrote. “As before the Cross family would like this donation to be made in the memory of Ryan A. Cross. Thanks again for your and all the volunteers’ efforts this season.”

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