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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Christmas Bureau breaks record with more than $734,000 in donations

Spokane Chiefs Vice President of Operations Jay Stewart, assisted by team mascot Boomer, stopped by the S-R Dec. 28 to drop off a check with proceeds from T-shirt sales. (Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)
By Nina Culver The Spokesman-Review

Saying “thank you” somehow doesn’t seem to be enough.

This year – the Christmas Bureau’s 75th – donors gave $734,383.40. The generosity is awe-inspiring to those directly involved in running a charity dedicated to making Christmas special for everyone.

The donations were a record, eclipsing the $535,000 goal. Organizers plan to dedicate the extra money to support the annual purchase of thousands of books for children for nearly a decade, replacing an annual $25,000 book sponsor donation lost a couple of years ago.

Thank you, readers, for supporting the Christmas Bureau in a year that has been enough to give pause to the most resilient among us, and devastating for so many. Thank you for providing donations that allowed the distribution of grocery store vouchers and electronic gift cards for toys to thousands of families.

Thank you to the donors who gave extra this year because they knew the need was great. Thank you to the donors who felt inspired to give to the Christmas Bureau for the first time. And thank you to the 1,573 donors who gave any amount, large or small.

If some of the thousands of recipients could speak directly to the donors, they would express their gratitude as well. Because of donors, the 11-year-old girl who just had a birthday with no presents woke up on Christmas Day with a gift under the tree. She asked for a new bathrobe. The three kids back home with their mother for the first time in five years were able to have something more than a candy bar to unwrap on Christmas morning.

Thousands more children in homes across the area were helped by the donations sent to the Christmas Bureau since Thanksgiving. A total of 30,863 people, including 16,166 children, were the recipients of help this year in 8,386 households.

Special thanks also go to fans of the Spokane Chiefs. For years, the Chiefs have hosted a sell-out Teddy Bear Toss game where fans throw thousands of teddy bears onto the ice after the Chiefs score their first goal, bears that are collected and brought to the Christmas Bureau for distribution.

That tradition, like so many this year, was sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Chiefs came up with another option. The team sold special T-shirts to raise money for the Christmas Bureau instead, donating $648 from the sale of 118 shirts.

Each team in the league sold a customized shirt to raise money for the charity of their choice, said Jay Stewart, vice president, sponsorships and operations.

“This was a leaguewide initiative,” Stewart said. “We sold the second-most.”

Stewart said fans were happy to support the special fundraiser for the Christmas Bureau. “Once they found out this was a pseudo-replacement for the Teddy Bear Toss, they were excited about it,” he said.

DonationsNew donations of $21,873.55 have brought the total donations given to the 2020 Christmas Bureau to $734,383.40.

Thomas Kasson, of Spokane, donated $2,000. Shirley Pantaleo gave $2,000.

An anonymous Spokane donor gave $1,000. Vicki and Scott Jones sent $1,000 via the Innovia Foundation “in memory of Carole and Barry Jones.” The Kelly and Connie Mickelson Family Fund at the Innovia Foundation contributed $1,000. The Charlie and Kathy Watson Fund at the Innovia Foundation sent $1,000 “for the kids.”

Jim Custer Enterprises Inc., of Spokane, donated $1,000. “While we missed being able to contribute to the Christmas Bureau in our usual ways – setting up the venue with a festive holiday display and also volunteering as toy baggers – we are so thankful that everyone found a way to still help the families in need this season,” wrote owners Clint and Cheryl Branz. “As event planners ourselves, we recognize the overwhelming task that Catholic Charities faced in first developing a drive-thru toy option and then ultimately having to go to a voucher toy option. We, too, have had to cancel and pivot our own events in this pandemic year.

“We are grateful to see Spokane and the surrounding communities step up in such a huge way to support the fund and we are humbled to be a small part of the effort. God bless you all! Merry Christmas!”

Max J. Kuney Company, of Spokane, contributed $1,000. The Hendershot Family Charitable Fund gave $1,000, writing “We are blessed to be able to share with our community this Christmas season.” Nicholas Paget gave $1,000 via PayPal “from the Alliant Surety Team!” Joseph Dunford contributed $1,000 via PayPal.

Donald Tuttle, of Spokane, sent $750. The Spokane Chiefs gave $648 from their T-shirt sale.

Thomas Nelson, of Colbert, gave $500. “Our family is fortunate in this year of unprecedented pandemic and economic time to be able to support the annual Christmas Fund and provide aid to those in the community in need of assistance,” he wrote. “Many thanks to all the volunteers and employees of Catholic Charities, Volunteers of America and the Spokesman who make this possible. Wishing all a very merry Christmas!”

The Matthews Mahoney Donor-Advised Fund at the Innovia Foundation gave $500 “for support in making the holidays better for so many.” Jeff Sitton gave $500 via PayPal, as did Eric Brantner.

Janice Darc, of Coeur d’Alene, donated $400.

The Pflugrad family, of Spokane, sent $250. The Bud and Sue Eugster Fund at the Innovia Foundation donated $250. Barbara and Bill Spencer gave $250 via PayPal, as did Chris Nordlund. Sharon Bowman donated $250 via PayPal. The McIntyre Family sent $250 via PayPal “in memory of Sissy (Janet), Dad (Jim), Chooy (Jennifer). They all loved Christmas. Gone but not forgotten. God bless you all!”

Wayne Bass, of Liberty Lake, donated $200. George and Michelene Weisbarth, of Newport, gave $200, writing, “We are happy to be able to help again, this year with a little more than last year.” Sandra Fiksdal, of Spokane, donated $200, writing, “I hope this helps to put joy in the children’s hearts!” Patrick Sprute contributed $200 via PayPal.

A donation of $150 came from “B.O.B.” Maddie, Lisa and Scott Ray gave $150 via PayPal, writing, “Merry Christmas!”

An anonymous Medical Lake donor sent $100. Barbara and Matt DePauli, of Spokane, also donated $100. “We are pleased that you are continuing to carry on your remarkable holiday history to that of children’s Christmas joy under the most difficult times,” they wrote. “We offer our sincere thanks and appreciation to the volunteers for their contributions to the spirit. We wish to remember and honor the men and women who are first responders, that answer our call of emergencies, the medical profession and their heroic work to cope with and protect us from COVID-19. We also honor all the men and women who have given the supreme sacrifice, the veterans, who have and are presently serving so that we can enjoy our family holidays in safety. Merry Christmas.”

Virginia and Robert Rathburn, of Snohomish, Washington, gave $100. An anonymous Spokane donor sent $100. Sherry Westermann, of Otis Orchards, donated $100. An anonymous donor contributed $100. An anonymous Spokane Valley donor sent $100. Arleen and Louis Libertini, of Spokane, gave $100. Kathleen Merritt, of Spokane, donated $100.

The following donors each gave $100 via PayPal: Joseph Monti, Marilyn Laugen, John Mulligan, Darren Hand, Cathy Dixon, Jerry Knobf and Adam Benson. Scott Price sent $100 via PayPal, writing, “A Christmas gift donation on behalf of David Flynn, Seattle, WA. Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!” Scott Cauvel, of Philadelphia, sent $100 “in the name of Ron and Judy Cauvel.”

Jeff and Brenda Danner, of Spokane Valley, sent $100 “in memory of our parents, who were big supporters over the years.” Gary and Sandy Friberg, of Colbert, contributed $100. Chapter 13 of the Retired Public Employees Council in Spokane Valley gave $100. “At our December get together, our executive board voted to send you a $100 donation in appreciation of the good work you do,” wrote treasurer Dean Treichel. “Holiday blessings to you.”

Mike Kraft, of Spokane, gave $50 “in memory of Fr. Thomas Kraft, OP, who worked in the Dominican Missions of Mexicali, Mexico.” Mark Johnson, of Nine Mile Falls, sent $50. Judith Brown, of Spokane, gave $50. “I’ve been fortunate to get a job in September,” she wrote. “To give thanks I want to give back! It’s been years since I’ve been able to do that.”

Ron and Tammy Laughbon, of Spokane Valley, sent $40.40, writing, “In memory of my father, Jack, who passed away on Dec. 15 due to COVID-19 complications I send a donation for $20.20 and another (donation) in memory of Donna Roloff, a former teacher of mine at Wilbur. Many blessings to all and always hug your loved ones.”

Muriel Cleveland, of Mead, gave $37.05.

An anonymous donor from Wilbur, Washington, sent $25 in memory of Donna Roloff. Frank Van Dyne, of Spokane Valley, contributed $25. An anonymous donor gave $25 via PayPal. Ruthie Dearing sent $25 via PayPal, as did Timothy Ball.

Judy Roberts, of Spokane, gave $20.

Coins totaling $3.10 were collected from the fountain in The Spokesman-Review building courtyard.