Christmas Day has arrived. The toys and books provided by the Christmas Bureau have been unwrapped, providing Christmas cheer to those struggling to make ends meet. But the work isn’t done.
The annual holiday aid program is a joint venture of Catholic Charities Eastern Washington, Volunteers of America and the Spokesman-Review.
The fundraising goal this year was increased to $600,000 to pay for the grocery store vouchers, toys and books that the Christmas Bureau gives out. Inflation has driven up the price of toys and books, and even the cost to store the gifts purchased throughout the year has increased.
As of Christmas Day, the total collected is $489,505.51, which is still a long way from the goal. But history has shown the Spokane community is generous, and it’s still possible to meet that goal if Spokane taps into that deep generosity it is known for. This is a time when no donation is too small and every dollar collected is important. A gift as small as $30 can pay for a toy or a grocery store voucher.
Some people are able to send in generous donations that boost the total, but every year there are also donations from seniors on a fixed income. They attach a note to their check of $20 or $25 that says something like, “Hope this helps.” It does help, and it is donors like these who allow the Christmas Bureau to reach its goal.
In each of the last 17 years, the Christmas Bureau has met its goal after the community rallied to meet the demand. Organizers are hopeful that this will be the case this year as well.
This year, 22,662 people in 6,644 households were helped, which includes 11,569 children. That’s nearly 12,000 children who received a toy and a book today that they would not have had if not for the community support of the Christmas Bureau.
There is still time to make donations. Checks, which must be received by Wednesday, can be mailed to The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund, P.O. Box 516, Spokane WA 99210. Donations can also be dropped off by Wednesday in the lobby of The Spokesman-Review at 999 W. Riverside Ave. Online donations must be made at christmasbureauspokane.org by Tuesday in order to allow time for processing. Any donations received after the cut-off will be held for the 2023 Christmas Bureau.
The final amount raised will be reported in a story on Jan. 1.
New donations of $14,218.33 have brought the year-to-date total to $489,505.51.
Bruce and Kathy Bixler, of Spokane, donated $1,500. “We are proud to again contribute to the Christmas Fund for the memory of Don Kelly and to help maintain the Christmas spirit among your needy donees,” they wrote.
Steve and Tricia Johnson, of Spokane Valley, gave $1,000. “Merry Christmas and thank you for all you do,” they wrote. An anonymous Spokane Valley donor sent $1,000. Paul Dehmer, of Spokane, donated $1,000, as did Bob Simpson of Spokane.
Einar and Diane Larson, of Almira, Washington, sent $600.
Melissa Tipke, of Spokane, donated $500. Courtney Altringer, of Spokane, gave $500. Robert and Susan Witte, of Spokane, sent $500. Gary Marks contributed $500 via PayPal, as did Janet Porco and the O’Kert family.
Brian and Ruth Sullivan donated $300 via PayPal, writing, “Remembering our loved one near and far.”
William Fanning donated $250, as did Barb and John Obde of Spokane. An anonymous Spokane donor sent $250, writing, “The Christmas Fund helps shift our view of a year of turbulence in America back to community traditions and caring for each other in this celebratory season. Thank you for the effort to refocus us on the hope we have in our children. Good job, volunteers!” James Braukmann contributed $250 via PayPal, as did Bill and Cheryl Brownlee, Keith Kadel and Barbara Lund.
Darwin Pages, of Spokane, gave $200. Jeri Chalich donated $200 via PayPal “in memory of my husband, George Chalich.” Roger and Jessica Diettrich gave $200 via PayPal, as did Stephen Johnson and Bill Shaw.
Madeline, Lisa and Scott Ray sent $175 via PayPal, writing, “Merry Christmas!”
Darla Malone, of Hayden, donated $150 “in memory of Richard and Maxine Malone. Miss you forever.” Rita Goehner, of Spokane, gave $150. “Having participated in programs during past years to aid those with great needs, especially at this time of the year, I am well aware of the constant need to help the many in our community for whom Christmas would be a blank sheet,” she wrote. “Thank you for all your efforts to be of assistance to the many whose lives are made better by your help.”
The Eastman Living Trust, of Spokane Valley, gave $100. Steven Alexander, of Otis Orchards, contributed $100. Michael and Linda Gereghty, of Greenacres, donated $100. Tom, Nadine and Mark Jones, of Spokane, sent $100 “in memory of our daughter and sister, Lori Jones Ormond.” An anonymous donor gave $100. Greg Gores sent $100 via PayPal “in memory of #8.”
Sherri Robinson sent $100 via PayPal, as did Jeff Stevens, Odie Marimar, Veronique Alcaraz and an anonymous donor. Jo Vogel donated $100 via PayPal, writing, “Thank you to all the volunteers and contributors for all you do to provide hope of a Merry Christmas to so many in our community.”
Ralph Walter sent $75 via PayPal “in memory of Bruce and Carol Walter.”
An anonymous Mead donor sent $50, writing, “Thanks for bringing joy and cheer to families at Christmas.” Sabian Arrian, of Spokane, gave $50. Paul and Joyce McKee, of Spokane, contributed $50. John Miller donated $50 via PayPal. Colleen Davis sent $50 “in memory of our parents, Jack and Helen Davis and Patrick and Joan Murphy. They made the holidays special with their endless love and kindness.”
Chris Bucher sent $35, writing, “Merry Christmas! Thanks to all the volunteers for their work!”
Darryl Michael “Soul Patrol” Stephens, of Spokane, donated $33.33. “On behalf of my deceased heroic parents, Michael Alan Stephens of Greenwood, Louisiana, and Emma Merine Fearence of Forney, Texas, both of whom risked their lives to save mine as an infant, please accept this nominal contribution to your phenomenal work of gracious charity!” he wrote.