People from as close as Deer Park and as far as Arizona tried their best to push the Christmas Bureau to its $600,000 goal this year, but for the first time in nearly two decades the effort has fallen short.
It was a tough year for many and some usual contributors may have had to reduce or eliminate their donations after a year of rising prices.
Those rising prices are what pushed organizers to raise the goal to $600,000 this year after it had been at $535,000 for several years. The toys and books handed out to children cost more to purchase and store until December. The grocery store vouchers were increased to $30 to help combat the higher food prices.
Christmas Bureau Coordinator Heidi Meany said the bureau will do its best to be flexible to account for the fundraising total of $559,449.51. The grocery store vouchers alone cost more than $200,000.
The final day’s donation total was boosted by a $25,000 check from Cowles Co., which owns The Spokesman-Review. “We’ve been involved for so many years,” Spokesman-Review Publisher Stacey Cowles said. “We’re thrilled to be able to support giving a merry Christmas to so many families in the region.”
It has been a point of pride that the community has met the Christmas Bureau fundraising goal for the past 17 years, but a year of inflation after two years of coping with a pandemic has broken the streak.
Records from some of the early years of the bureau are incomplete, but since 1955 the community has donated $19.5 million dollars to provide a Christmas celebration for those who might otherwise go without. This year, 22,662 people in 6,644 households were helped, which includes 11,569 children.
Though the goal wasn’t met this year, Christmas organizers and volunteers will be back in 2023 to do their best to make Christmas bright for all.
“This was a labor of love,” Meany said. “This was really special, I think, coming back fully in person.”
A previous donation of $2,500 was attributed to Mark Schultz, president of S&S Coatings, but should have been listed as coming from S&S Coatings. “Thank you for all the wonderful people who donate their time and energy to make Christmas a special time,” Schultz wrote. “It is this time of year that makes us all look back and feel blessed to be able to contribute a little back to our wonderful community. Merry Christmas to all!”
New donations of $69,944 brought the final Christmas Bureau fundraising total to $559,449.51.
Cowles Company, the parent company of The Spokesman-Review, donated $25,000.
Ibex Flooring LLC sent $7,500. “Thank you for all you do!” wrote Nathan and Ashli Myers.
The Klaue Family Foundation donated $5,000. “The Foundation is once again blessed to be able to contribute to the Christmas Fund,” David Klaue wrote. “We are very thankful we are able to continue to contribute and be a part of a program that brings joy, brightness and many blessings to the families and organizations in need. The spirit and generosity of the Spokane community has helped many families experience the true meaning of Christmas. The benevolent providence and gift of giving to assist those less fortunate is rewarding, especially in these unprecedented economic and pandemic times. Wishing you a very blessed 2023.”
Acme Concrete Paving Inc., of Spokane, gave $4,000.
Diamond Asphalt Paving and Red Diamond Construction each donated $2,500. “Diamond Asphalt Paving and Red Diamond Construction are pleased to donate $5,000 to the Christmas Bureau,” said an enclosed note. “Thank you for all your work and Merry Christmas!”
Ronald Schoenberger, of Spokane, donated $1,500. “To all the volunteers of the 2022 Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund, thanks for all you do,” he wrote. “This is the 36th year the Schoenberger family has contributed to the Christmas Fund. In memory of Shirley Schoenberger, please find enclosed our check for this year’s contribution.”
The Roger and Kathleen Chase Family Charitable Fund gave $1,000. Stacy Olson donated $1,000 via PayPal “in memory of my sweet parents, Sue and Ted Olson.”
Andrea Benson donated $750 via PayPal, writing, “Thank you for the work you do. We would like to share in our blessings this year.”
An anonymous Spokane donor sent $500, writing, “Grateful.” An anonymous donor from Yuma, Arizona, gave $500. Steven Wicks, of Spokane, donated $500. An anonymous donor contributed $500 via Vanguard Charitable. Robert and Lauri Seghettie contributed $500. Michael Wiser gave $500 via PayPal, as did Ryan Baddeley.
Jamie Harris donated $500 via PayPal “in memory of mother and Nana, who always made the holidays and Christmas wonderful for my sister and me.” Paul Jalufka sent $500 via PayPal “in honor of Jean Jalufka.”
George Sullivan gave $600 via PayPal. The Association of Retired Avista Employees donated $434.
Zandra Olsen, of Spokane, gave $300 “in memory of my brother, Dick Charles. He would want children to have plenty of books.” James Reed, of Spokane, contributed $300. Christine Gramlich sent $300 via PayPal, writing “We are former residents who met and married in Spokane 20 years ago. Sending goodwill!”
David and Cindy Heitstuman donated $300 via PayPal, writing, “Thank you for all you do!” David Maccini sent $300 via PayPal.
Christopher Sherfey, of Spokane, gave $250. Donald Gale Jr., of Spokane, contributed $250, as did Connie Brunell of Nine Mile Falls. Dena Kaplan, of San Diego, donated $250. “This is in honor of my dad, Don Kelly (deceased) and how my sister Darcy Kelly and childhood pal Janie Parker Slater who are following in my dad’s footsteps by volunteering their time and making Christmas bright and happy for the families of Spokane,” she wrote.
Heat and Front Insulators and Allied Workers Local No. 82 donated $250. Marilyn Kamna sent $250 via PayPal, as did Pat Kerfoot. Tom and Molly Beil contributed $250 via PayPal. “Spreading the cheer to those that are struggling this year,” they wrote. “We have been so fortunate!” Cajer and Jamie Neely sent $250 via PayPal, as did Heather Barbieri.
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $200. Mary and Phillip Lenove, of Spokane, donated $200. “Thanks for doing our Lord’s work helping others,” they wrote. Bradley Ennis and Terren Roloff, of Spokane, sent $200. Connie Brunell, of Nine Mile Falls, contributed $200, as did Marilyn and Arthur Sturdevant, of Cheney.
John and Whitney Sestero, of Spokane, gave $200. Gary and Leanne Brosius, of Veradale, contributed $200. “We appreciate everything you do for people in need,” they wrote. “Continue your success.” Susan Gordon, of Spokane, donated $200. Skip and Michelle White gave $200.
The following people each donated $200 via PayPal: Mary Upshaw, Bruce Larson, Mike and Ione Howson, Stephanie Gwiazdon, Patricia Bruininks, Marilyn McGlathery and Nancy James. Victoria, Alex and Gabriella Van Inwegen gave $200 via PayPal “in loving memory of Patrick, who made the world better.”
Gordon and Nita Alexander, of Spokane, gave $150 “in memory of Evelyn and Pearl, the light and spirits of Christmas this year. Merry Christmas to all.” Galina Sinekopova donated $150 via PayPal, writing “Peace to the World!”
The Spokane Branch of the American Association of University Women gave $120. “Our donation is very important to our membership,” Treasurer Margaret Lawrence wrote. “We know all that you do because many of our members are on your team of volunteers. Merry Christmas to all.”
Robert Harris, of Veradale, donated $100, as did Dave Broom of Spokane. The Roche family, of Liberty Lake, sent $100. Diane Pooley, of Coeur d’Alene, contributed $100, as did Soroptimist International of Spokane. Beth and Robert Krause, of Spokane, gave $100. An anonymous Liberty Lake donor sent $100.
The following people each donated $100 via PayPal: Carrie Roller, Conrad Thomas, Janelle Klein, Grant Utter, Gaye Sutter, Harold Vanderpool, John Jensen, Mary Hopkins, Joni Dirks, James Ahrens, Sheryl Gosser, Betsy and Michael Schneider, Jennifer Roseman, Robert Miller, Sylvia Oliver, George Bacon, Jeanne Case, Cecile La Fountain, Reinhard Foerg, Grace Cooper, Gregory Blair, Joan Redman, David Saraceno and John Middaugh.
Kris Spelman, of Spokane, donated $100 “in loving memory of my grandmother, Violet Burgunder, and great-aunt, Elsie Altin. Three anonymous donors each gave $100. Eileen Hargrove, of Spokane, sent $100, as did Debbie Benning of Spokane. Andrew Caster, of Spokane, contributed $100, as did Katy O’Connor, of Spokane.
Rebecca Severinghaus sent $100 via PayPal, writing, “Donating in honor of our four grandchildren. Hope this helps make your goal.” Ian Amstadter gave $100 via PayPal, writing, “Thanks for the good that you do for our community. From Express Employment Professionals.” Tammy Reid contributed $100 via PayPal, writing, “From our family to other families. Thank you to the volunteers who help make Christmas and our community brighter.”
Joe Jovanovich donated $100 via PayPal, writing, “You guys are so wonderful! Thank you!” Two anonymous donors each sent $100 via PayPal. Jade Porter contributed $100 via PayPal “for Kelly and women like her. Merry Christmas.”
An anonymous donor from Moscow, Idaho, gave $60.
Bill and Kris Stimson, of Spokane, donated $50, writing, “Please add this to your wonderful work.” Ian and Denise Potter, of Spokane, gave $50 “in memory of Gene Dondanville and George Potter, whom we miss very much, especially at this time of year.” Michelle Hagan sent $50 via PayPal, writing, “Merry Christmas!” Theresa Hart contributed $50 via PayPal, writing, “Thank you for all you do to make Christmas possible for so many families.”
Frank Sousa, of Spokane, gave $50 in memory of Darrel Everts. The following people each donated $50 via PayPal: William Brown, Deborah Carpenter, Judith Schoepflin, Mary Rupert, Rosalyn Zakheim, Jerry Meador, Brooklyn Walter, Deanna Sommers, Gary Bell, Andrew Forsyth, June Lawson and Constance Dietz.
Gail Kiser, of Spokane, sent $35. Dennis and Janine Mix, of Spokane, contributed $30, as did Mary McCormick-Kaufma of Spokane. Joanie Hathaway gave $30 via PayPal, as did Eric Allen and Tracey Lawson.
An anonymous Spokane Valley donor sent $25, writing, “Thanks for all you do!” Eleanor Riley gave $25 via PayPal, as did Nancy Beeman and Katherine Wooley.
Michael Kuntz donated $20 via PayPal, as did Karen Ssebanakitta. Kari Mosley gave $5 via PayPal.