Retired pediatric nurse practitioner Julie Tveit had been looking for additional volunteer opportunities since her retirement in July when she spotted a story in The Spokesman-Review last month about the need for volunteers at the Christmas Bureau. She immediately put in her application and signed up for as many shifts as she could get.
The Christmas Bureau is a collaboration between Catholic Charities, the Volunteers of America and The Spokesman-Review that provides food vouchers to families in need at Christmas along with a toy and book for each child. That appealed to Tveit. “I’m very much a child person,” she said.
Tveit said she’s often seen the stories in the newspaper asking for donations to fund the annual effort and has donated a few times. She was also inspired to volunteer by her parents, Dan and Peggy Jeremiah, who were Christmas Bureau volunteers themselves more than a decade ago.
“They had some stories about people,” she said. “It seemed like a fun thing to do.”
Tveit is one of about 90 new volunteers to sign up this year, more than double the 40 or so new volunteers who sign up in a typical year. That’s in part because changes in how the Bureau operates requires more volunteers to make everything run smoothly.
But Tveit didn’t just sign up for a shift or two. She asked to be put on the schedule for every day of the 11 days the Bureau is open.
“I think if I’m going to volunteer, I should jump off the deep end,” she said. “I’m looking forward to getting up, getting dressed and going somewhere. I really miss that about going to work.”
Most recently, Tveit worked at the Providence Medical Park in Spokane Valley. She worked for Providence for 24 years, and in the 10 years before that she worked as a pediatric nurse at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center. She said she enjoys working with children and is looking forward to her shifts as a toy expert at the Bureau.
“I know children and I know developmental levels, so I’m excited about that,” she said.
She’s also scheduled for a few shifts doing intake work, checking people in and processing applications. It’s the same job her mother did when she volunteered at the Bureau.
Tveit said her mother has been giving her tips, including not bringing her purse and leaving her book at home because she won’t have time to crack open a page.
Tveit said she’s not worried about volunteering during a pandemic. All volunteers and recipients are required to wear a mask and be vaccinated. Tveit said she’s used to wearing a mask all day and got her vaccine long ago.
“I’m not worried at all,” she said. “I think getting out and volunteering is more important than a pandemic.”
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