When the Christmas Bureau’s longtime coordinator took a new job this summer, it left a vital position vacant. But not for long.
“I raised my hand,” Heidi Meany said.
The Christmas Bureau takes months of planning. Volunteers must be scheduled, and toys and books have to be purchased so they can be given away each December.
As the Christmas Bureau coordinator, Meany makes sure all the moving pieces come together smoothly.
Meany had been hired by Catholic Charities as an events coordinator in February 2020, prior to which she worked at Cataldo Catholic School as an advancement assistant and volunteer coordinator. After the COVID-19 pandemic shut down all events, she shifted to onboarding all the volunteers who help at various Catholic Charities facilities and programs.
“I’m the paperwork gal,” she said.
She’s now the community relations manager for Catholic Charities. During the Christmas Bureau in 2021, she served as assistant for the previous coordinator, Sierra Heinen, and was training to replace volunteer coordinator Brigid Krause, who had announced her retirement. It seemed only natural that she step up to replace Heinen on short notice.
“I love working with the volunteers, but this coordinator job is just a really good fit for me,” she said.
She gives Krause credit for coming back this year to serve as the volunteer coordinator until a replacement can be found.
“She is the shining star this year, because she knew I couldn’t do both roles,” she said. “We’ll find someone wonderful to work with the volunteers.”
Meany said bureau volunteers have been understanding about the changes.
“The volunteers have such a long history with it,” she said. “They’re so dedicated. They’ve all expressed support for me and the bureau and that it would work out.”
This year’s bureau went amazingly well, Meany said.
“It’s because the community rallies around this like no other,” she said. “It’s incredible. We knew the need was there. We knew the clients would come.”
She said that she, like other people who work at the bureau daily, was blessed to have her family step up and help out with things at home, whether it was by cooking dinner or buying groceries.
“It helps to have support at home, because these are long days,” she said.
With her first year as Christmas Bureau coordinator under her belt, Meany is enthusiastic about doing it all again next year.
“I’ve never had a job that fit my personality better than this,” she said.
Christmas is drawing near, and there is still a significant way to go to reach the goal of raising $600,000 for the Christmas Bureau. New donations of $16,354 have brought the year-to-date total to $351,687.08.
The Justus Bag Company, of Spokane Valley, donated $5,000 in honor of Roland “Curly” and Dorothy Justus. “Merry Christmas to all!” Darin Justus wrote.
Colvico Inc., of Spokane, donated $2,000 “in memory of Stephen M. Colvin, 1941-2020.” Wandermere Community Services sent $2,000. “We appreciate all the work that you do for the Spokane community,” treasurer Mark Hund wrote.
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $1,619 in memory of Sandy Williams, writing, “Thank you for your vital work.”
Gary and Susan Bloom, of Spokane, sent $1,000. David and Karen Crouse, of Hauser, contributed $1,000.
Michael McQuesten gave $500 via PayPal, as did an anonymous donor.
An anonymous Spokane donor sent $400, writing, “Merry Christmas and thank you for once again supporting the Christmas Bureau.”
Colleen and Greg Stevens gave $300 via PayPal, writing, “We would like our donation to be in memory of Lynda Hayashi, a wonderful, generous woman who left us too soon. Thank you for all you do for our community.”
Gary and Kathryn James, of Nine Mile Falls, sent $250 “in memory of our parents and twin brother.” Robert Douthitt gave $250 via PayPal.
Diane Veltri sent $200 via PayPal. Stephen Menzel donated $105 via PayPal.
Marlene and Jim McBride, of Nine Mile Falls, sent $100 in memory of Katy Owsley. Gary Brown, of Nine Mile Falls, contributed $100. An anonymous Oakesdale, Washington, donor sent $100. Sally Atkins, of Spokane, donated $100. Sharon Grimmer, of Spokane, gave $100.
Craig Hemmens and Mary Stohr, of Spokane, sent $100. “Thank you Spokesman-Review and all your volunteers for all you are doing at Christmas for people in need,” they wrote. “We are happy to help out with this small donation.” Cindy Nelson donated $100 via PayPal, as did Erin Weller and Jeff Ellingson.
Brian and Maren Bofenkamp, of Spokane, donated $75. “Thankful for Kayden and Kyler,” they wrote.
Catherine Lundberg, of Medical Lake gave $50. An anonymous donor from Wilbur, Washington, gave $50, writing, “I appreciate what you do for the community even if I don’t live in Spokane. God bless each person working at the Christmas Bureau, and more importantly, each of its recipients.”
Peter and Annette Sanburn, of Spokane, donated $50. Brenda Clark sent $50 via PayPal.
David and Eva McChesney, of Spokane, sent $30, writing, “Hope it helps a little!”
An anonymous Spokane Valley donor sent $25.