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

Ferris High School students craft wooden toys and trucks for the Christmas Bureau

It’s the holiday season, and that means shop students at Ferris High School are making wooden toys for children. They’re crafting rocking horses, cars, little reindeer, tops and keepsake boxes.

The goal is to make 100 of each toy and for all of them to be distributed to children at the Christmas Bureau.

Rick Mead, shop teacher at Ferris, said the story of how this started is simple.

“Last year I got a call from someone from the Christmas Bureau, and they were wondering if we could make some wooden toys, so we did,” he said.

Now it could become a tradition. Nearing the winter months, students asked Mead if they were again making and donating toys.

“It’s in their mind already, the giving is in their heart already,” Mead said of his students.

Students are given almost complete creative freedom, and they take advantage of it. One student made a Batmobile for a car. Another made a Lamborghini.

“There’s some pretty cool ones,” Mead said. “A lot of them try to make them look like their own car, like a Subaru Legacy.”

It isn’t only Ferris’ shop class that’s a part of the giving. Many of the toys are sent to the art department to be painted.

Iza Maselko, one of Mead’s shop students, thought it was “really cool” when she found out the class would be donating toys to the bureau.

“We’re donating toys to little kids, and that’s pretty awesome,” she said.

Her classmate, Elliott Attril, agreed.

“We’re going to keep doing it next year, and hopefully throughout the years it just keeps getting bigger and we can donate more toys,” he said.

Pinki Culbertson, who manages the donations of wooden toys at the bureau, said anyone who wishes to donate should drop off their wooden cars and knickknacks at the fairgrounds from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. starting Dec. 4 through the close of the Christmas Bureau, which is Dec. 14.

Culberston also has a few instructions for making the toys.

“Any size is OK, but the smaller the better,” she said. “(Children) really like those little 4-by-2-inch trucks … with wheels, if possible.”

The toys don’t need to be painted, but if they are, Culbertson said, make sure that the paint is nontoxic.


Though The Spokesman-Review manages fundraising for the Christmas Bureau from Thanksgiving to Christmas, the Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund receives donations all year. Also, each year some donations are made just after the cut-off and are then applied to the next year’s fund.

Donations made in late 2022 and throughout 2023 total $31,537.19, the first step towards this year’s fundraising goal of $600,000.

The Duke and Ruth Fette Trust donated $10,000. The Fettes once owned the family’s venerable Longhorn Barbecue restaurant. Hotstart Manufacturing donated $5,000. TD Ameritrade Clearing gave $3,000.

Rick Betts with Moss Adams LLP made two separate donations of $1,000 and $750. The Clarence Colby Memorial Fund donated $1,502.19.

Terry and Kathy Deno, Angela Johnstone, Glenn Breen and Dupree Building Specialties each donated $1,000. The Christmas fund received a $1,000 grant from the Bank of America Charitable Gift Fund.

A donation of $500 was sent via UBS Financial Services under the name Ridlington.

Mary Jones sent $500 on behalf of the Jones Family. Charles McElligott and Gordon Keith Mackenzie each gave $500. Janice Darc, of Coeur D’Alene, gave $400.

Nick and Leslie Zilka donated $300. Lynda Ensign sent $300.

Dave and Joann Schwartz gave $250 “in remembrance of Greg Karney and Dave Partridge.”

An anonymous donation of $200 was sent along with a note that read, “Merry Christmas to all the volunteers who share their time at the Christmas Bureau to bring the Christmas spirit of giving to our community.”

Luann Peterson donated $200. Hope and Gary Roszell gave $200. Patrick Sprute sent $200 though PayPal.

Mike Yake, of Newman Lake, donated $100, as did Claire Murphy and Kristin Nester.

Ann Kawar donated $100. Beverly Hayes donated $100. Two anonymous donors sent $100.

Manito Masonic Lodge donated $100. “To continue the great work you do in our community every Holiday season,” wrote secretary Roger Nelson.

“Merry Christmas!” wrote Dave and Barbara Schmedding with a donation of $50. Erin and Mary McGrail, Jean Flechel and an anonymous donor each donated $50.

Patricia Newcombe gave $50, Tim Jordan donated $30, Julie Carlberg sent $25 and Angela Ferguson donated $10, all via PayPal.

Celia Misner and Nancy Aston sent $30.

Mike and Laurel Somerlott, of Colville, sent $20, writing, “We are always amazed about the amount of people you help with Christmas!… Thank you for taking on such a huge project.”

Frank Dyne donated $25. Judith Horton made three separate donations of $5.

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