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

Teddy bears, pajamas – and at least one plush chicken wing – arrive for sorting at the Christmas Bureau

Volunteers at the Christmas Bureau had a busy day Monday, and it started with a Penske truckload of teddy bears. The 6,569 stuffed animals were dropped off by the Spokane Chiefs after the Teddy Bear Toss hockey game on Saturday.

The Chiefs have been doing the Teddy Bear Toss for more than 20 years, said Jay Stewart, vice president of sponsorships and operations with the team. As long as they aren’t on the road, the players usually drop off the stuffed toys in person.

They had fun doing it this year, launching garbage bags of stuffies from the truck, flinging the toys at their teammates and diving into the massive pile. One of the players playfully went at another with a bulky stuffed chicken wing.

The others in the room stood back and watched.

“Boys will be boys,” a few volunteers said.

Stewart said it’s like this every year.

“Their inner teenager – well, they are teenagers – really come out,” he said.

Christmas Bureau coordinator Heidi Meany agreed.

“It’s great fun to see the hockey players come out. They always come and help unload the stuffed animals from the truck, and you get to see these great big young men turn into little boys,” she said.

It was Christmas Bureau Assistant, or “Assistant Elf,” Hannah Byrd’s first time watching the teddy bear delivery.

“I’m so shocked,” she said, seeing the sheer size of the mound of cuddly toys. “This is seriously so cool.”

The unloading of the toys took over half an hour, and the Chiefs were further delayed when one player lost his keys in the pile. After several minutes of digging, a victory chorus went through the room when the missing keys were found.

“Now it’s a matter of sorting them,” said the volunteer responsible for the stuffed animals, Linda Solan. The process will take “two to three days.”

Each year, the bureau receives a few bears that have gotten too much love to be placed in a new home. Those are donated to Goodwill. Some of the teddy bears are big enough to head to the toy room all on their own, while others are paired with smaller toys. The remaining fluffies are given as a little extra to families at the bureau.

After the Spokane Chiefs left, the bureau had more guests to greet. The visitors from St. Thomas More and St. John Vianney Catholic schools came to drop off pajamas they had been collecting for the past few weeks.

St. Thomas More brought their eighth -graders with them. Meany gave the students a tour of the Christmas Bureau, busy with volunteers.

As the eighth -graders made their way to the thousands of stuffed animals, several mouths fell open.

“They were pretty in awe of it all,” Meany said of the students.


The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund is progressing toward its goal of $600,000, thanks to more generous donations from the community. New donations of $7,240.14 boosted the fund’s year-to-date total to $131,594.33.

An anonymous donor sent $1,000, “to help make the holiday season a little better for those less fortunate.”

Johnny and Terry Engleman donated $1,000.

Christine Carroll donated $500, writing, “Happy Holidays to all! Time once again to reflect on another year.”

Lowell Severud sent $500. Dave and Merry Maccini donated $500.

Judith Hudson sent a donation of $400. “In memory of my brother Don Corey,” she wrote.

Ron and Cindy Loomis, of Colbert, sent $300. Wilbur Yates donated $250.

Dennis and Barb Bunkers sent $250 writing, “thanks to all of the volunteers who help make Christmas happier for many people.”

Cheri Susens, Corinne Giles and Janet and Kelly Watson each sent $200.

An anonymous donor sent $200 with a note that read, “Once again we are grateful for all the blessings we have received and are happy we can play a small part to help others have something at Christmas.”

An anonymous donor sent $195.

“In memory of Gene and Shirley Schatz and Karen Schatz Dunning,” Ray and Liz Schatz sent $160.

Frances and Stephen Menzel sent $125.

“In memory of Katy Rose Owsley-McBride,” Jim and Marlene McBride sent $100.

“In remembrance of our daughter and sister Lori Jones Ormond,” Tom, Nadine and Mark Jones sent $100. “Thank you for a wonderful program,” they wrote.

Gary Fiscus, of Liberty Lake, Barbara Obde and Luella Jobin donated $100 each.

Gail and Dave DeRoshia donated $100 in memory of their mother, Jennie M. “She loved Christmas and family. We hope this helps other families have a wonderful Christmas,” they wrote.

Kay Brightman, Peggy Estey and Kassia Kain each donated $100 via PayPal.

Sharon Boyer sent $100. “A little something to help brighten a family’s Christmas,” she wrote, “This year’s gift is in memory of my mother who recently passed away.”

Eva and David McChesney sent $60. “If this will make just one person’s Holidays Bright…” they wrote.

An anonymous donor sent $50.

Michael Prager, Lolita Sutton and Virginia and Willbann Terpening donated $50 each.

Jordan Jorgenson sent $24 through PayPal.

Roberta Simonson's reporting is part of the Teen Journalism Institute, funded by Bank of America with support from the Innovia Foundation.