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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Picking just the right children’s book is important at the Christmas Bureau

Book buyers with the Christmas Bureau have been working hard to include books that represent myriad cultures.  (Nina Culver/S-R)
By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

Curtis Hampton and his wife, Pam Wilson, spent a day helping out in the Christmas Bureau book area at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center.

Parents take special care to find just the right book for each child, picking one that fits their reading level and interest, often with the help of a volunteer.

Hampton said he and his wife, both retired, are frequent volunteers for various community organizations. Along the way, they met Merilee Roloff, the former CEO of Volunteers of America who is still heavily involved in the Christmas Bureau, even in her retirement.

“We allowed her to twist our arms into doing it,” he said.

It’s an arm twisting they don’t regret.

“I thought it was fantastic,” he said. “We spend so much time talking about what’s wrong with our city.

“What I saw that day was what is right. It was a rewarding experience.”

Wilson agreed. “I thought it was great,” she said. “People were so thankful. I enjoyed it a lot. And then the little kids. Oh, they were great.”

Hampton said he was impressed with the other volunteers, who were kind and gracious. “They all have giving hearts,” he said. “I’m pleased we had the opportunity to be involved in that.”

Like most other first-time volunteers who get a taste of the unique Christmas spirit evident at the Christmas Bureau, the couple plans to come back next year.

“There’s so many people that need help,” Hampton said. “I’m blessed to be in the position to be able to help.”

Hampton, who is on the board of the Carl Maxey Center and on the Spokane Community Against Racism steering committee, said he’d also like to help by making sure that word of the Christmas Bureau spreads in Spokane’s minority communities. He said he feels like some people who could benefit from the Bureau simply don’t know it exists.

“In fact, I have some ideas for next year,” he said.


New donations of $54,372 have pushed the year-to-date total to $458,767.18.

Garco Construction, a longtime supporter of the Christmas Bureau, came through in a big way. The company and its employees donated a total of $49,000.

“As we look forward to our 45th year in business, we at Garco Construction want to give back to our Spokane community that has been responsible for much of our success,” said a letter signed by Tim Welsh, Clancy Welsh, Jamie Welsh and Hollis Barnett. “Enclosed is Garco’s contribution of $49,000, which includes $13,415 of direct contributions from our employees to the Christmas Fund to assist the less fortunate in our community.

“We are proud of the over 70 anonymous employee contributions this year along with those below that chose to be listed: Mike Long, in honor of Paul and Nelson Jalufka; the Lueck Family; Jason and Rebecca McDonald; and Ron and Nicole Skinner.

“Our team at Garco would like to thank The Spokesman-Review, Catholic Charities, Volunteers of America and all the volunteers that continue to make the Christmas Fund such a vital part of the holiday experience here in Spokane. From all of us at Garco we would like to wish everyone a safe holiday season and Happy New Year!”

Steven and Cindy Wolfe, of Newman Lake, donated $1,500, writing, “This donation is in remembrance of Carter and Mildred Wolfe, Rustin Atkerson, Lea Rose Tieman, Fred Schneider Jr., Dorothy Preciado, Doris Trotter Woods, Howard H. Hanaway, James Parnell, Mike Hanson, Keith Carpenter, Mark L. Cunningham and Ed ‘Norm’ Hoepfer. Thanks for all you do!”

Jean Moore gave $1,500 via PayPal. Michael Meighan sent $500 via PayPal “in honor of Jake and Colleen Meighan.”

Kelly Moorman sent $300 via PayPal. Alvin and Lynn Schmidt, of Spokane Valley, donated $250. Marvin Soehren, of Spokane, contributed $250.

Mark Switzer gave $200 “in memory of Robert ‘El Biggo’ Switzer.” Brian Smith sent $200 via PayPal “in memory of friends and family who have passed.”

Roxanne and Stephen Palmer, of Spokane, gave $100, writing, “Merry Christmas to all.” Jack and Kathleen Ossello, of Spokane, sent $100 “in honor of Kathy Lackie’s birthday.” Lisa Reuter gave $100 via PayPal, as did an anonymous donor.

Nancy Biggerstaff, of Spokane, sent $75.

Marty Fernandez gave $50, writing, “I’m so glad you’re back at the fairgrounds. Thank you for all you do!” Scott and Leslie Huff, of Kingwood, Texas, sent $50. An anonymous donor gave $50, writing, “Thank you to all who make this Christmas Bureau possible. Here is a small donation to contribute to the good works afforded the families in Spokane.”

Robert Watts sent $27 via PayPal “from Annabelle and Betty, in loving memory of Lola and Roxy.” Tom Latimer, of Spokane, contributed $20.