Former Christmas Bureau volunteers honored with memorial tree
The longtime volunteers at the Christmas Bureau are a tightknit group, creating friendships out of their shared work helping the needy at Christmas. This year they came together to honor the former volunteers who have died in recent years.
A small white artificial Christmas tree stands on the volunteer check-in table in the back room at the Christmas Bureau. Colorful ornaments in the shapes of stars, Christmas trees and snowflakes carry names that are familiar even to those who have not volunteered any time at the bureau.
Father Frank Bach, who championed the Christmas Bureau and volunteered there every day it was open for 50 years. Ken Trent, the director of the Volunteers of America for 22 years. Don Kelly, a jack-of-all-trades volunteer at the bureau for 20 years. Donna Hanson, the former longtime executive director of Catholic Charities.
“Our volunteers are all family,” said Christmas Bureau volunteer coordinator Brigid Krause. “A lot of our people are retired. About three years ago we started losing people. Because of their service we wanted to honor them.”
There are 20 ornaments on the tree, several of them from people who died this year. “A couple of those people were actually chair people, in charge of the whole thing,” Krause said.
The former volunteers may be gone, but they are not forgotten. Every year people give donations in their memory, creating a lasting legacy in their name.
Donations to the Christmas Bureau are up a bit, with $34,962 coming in to bring the year-to-date total to $270,111.13. There’s still a long way to go to reach the goal of $525,000, however, so more donations are still needed to ensure the bureau is fully funded. Every donation, no matter what amount, is important.
Jim and Maggie Randall donated $8,500. “We have always been proud to be able to support the Christmas Fund to help those in need,” they wrote. “It is always uplifting to read about how much this fund means to our community.”
An anonymous Colbert donor gave $2,500. Affinity at Coeur d’Alene sent $2,500.
BPS Supply Company of Spokane contributed $1,000. “From all of use at BPS Supply Company, have a blessed holiday season and a wonderful new year,” they wrote. “A big thank you to all the volunteers!” Keith Comes, of Spokane, gave $1,000, as did Jonathan and Bridget Lemberg, of Spokane.
Michael and Virginia Berg, of Spokane, donated $1,000. “We hope this helps to reach the goal,” they wrote. “This fund is such a blessing to those who need some help at Christmas. Thank you for doing your part.” An anonymous Spokane donor gave $1,000. Kenneth Roberts, of Spokane, contributed $1,000. Cynthia Postlethwaite, of Spokane Valley, sent $1,000 via PayPal.
The Twyford Law Office sent $1,000. “After seeing the impact of the Christmas Fund and the generosity in Spokane, we felt we had no choice but to contribute and give back to our community,” wrote attorney Mark Cassell. “The Christmas Fund is such a wonderful cause. We hope our contribution can help many families in need during the holidays and bring some joy to those who receive wonderful gifts.”
Peter and Gay Witherspoon, of Spokane, donated $750. Knight Construction and Supply in Deer Park and JoAnn and Jim Knight sent $700. Bob and Claudia Jones, of Kettle Falls, gave $700.
Jerry and Paulette Firor, of Spokane, sent $551. An anonymous Spokane donor gave $500 in memory of Ann Patterson. An anonymous Spokane Valley donor sent $500 via PayPal, writing “We are thankful for everything we have and wish to share with those in hard times.” Fred and Norrine Potts, of Spokane Valley, donated $400. Daniel Lennon, of Spokane, contributed $300, as did Timothy and Camille Schmidt, of Valleyford.
Carl and Dennie Crowe, of Spokane, gave $250. “You wrap so many in our community with joy and love - thank you!” they wrote. “We enter this holiday season with fond and loving memories of our parents.” Pat and Dee Cerutti, of Spokane, contributed $250. Alana, Heidi, Tim and Evan Shustoff, of Spokane, donated $250. Linda Martin, of Spokane, gave $250.
Tom, Darlene, McKenzie and Tanner Caldwell, of Spokane Valley, gave $250 “in loving memory of our loved ones who are no longer with us.”
Sherry and John Gaiser gave $210. The following Spokane donors each gave $200; Marvin and Helen Soehren, Jack and Norma Snead, Bruce Rogers, Scott and Nancy Stowell, Bruce and Rebekka Higgins, Craig and Linda Lenhart and Michael and Elizabeth Pontarolo.
Corinne Hirst, of Spokane, donated $200. “Thanks for all the good work you do!” she wrote. Darlene Newman, of Spokane, sent $200 “in memory of George Cunningham from his loving family. Wishing peace and Merry Christmas for all.” An anonymous Spokane donor contributed $200.
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $200, writing “Thank you for all you do to bring the holidays to all!” An anonymous Spokane Valley donor sent $200, writing “Thanks to all the hard workers. Merry Christmas to all.” Theresa and Jeffrey Utesch, of Veradale, gave $200.
An anonymous Spokane donor sent $200, writing “the Christmas Bureau does beautiful work for our community every year! Thank you!” The Eastern Washington University Master of Fine Arts class of 2019 donated $200.
John and Alexis Chasse, of Spokane, contributed $150, as did Colleen Birchill, of Spokane.
Anne Katsaris, of Spokane, gave $100, as did an anonymous Cheney donor. Roy and Joey Schmidt, of Cheney, donated $100. “Merry Christmas to all of you wonderful people who help to make Christmas possible for so many families,” they wrote. An anonymous Spokane donor contributed $100. Frank Neeri gave $100 via PayPal.
Joseph Guerrinha, of Veradale, donated $100 in memory of Joaquim and Candida Guerrinha. Mark and Linda McFall, of Colbert, contributed $100. Bishop Emeritus William Skylstad of the Catholic Diocese of Spokane donated $100. Ron and Cheryl Doran, of Spokane, gave $100 in memory of Donald J. Doran, who was retired from the U.S. Air Force and died this year.
The following Spokane donors each gave $100; Roger Erhart, Christy and Richard Pospahala, Lois and Oscar Thomason, James and Carolyn Craven, H.M. Marksbury, Mary Ann Drewniak, Joe and Jeanie Hensley, Jeffrey and Mollie Sweat, Joel and Joan Rogers, Larry and Pam McClenny and Sharon Grimmer.
An anonymous Spokane grandmother donated $100. “Thank you all for making this worthy endeavor possible,” she wrote. “Enclosed is a donation to help in some small way.” Thomas Bryan, of Spokane, contributed $100 “in memory of my wife, Mary Anna, who was always generous and caring.” Joan Menzies gave $100.
An anonymous Spokane Valley donor sent $100 in memory of Dorothy Marvin. The Dance Center of Spokane gave $100. An anonymous Spokane donor contributed $100, writing “My late husband would have wanted me to donate this. God bless us all this Christmas!”
Lynn Reilly, of Spokane, gave $100 “in memory of Kenneth J. Reilly, who used to volunteer at the Christmas Bureau.” Patti Wachter, of Spokane, sent $100 via PayPal.
Anne Franke sent $81. Cathi Lundberg, of Spokane, gave $75. An anonymous Spokane Valley donor gave $65.
Mary Kate and James Jones, of Spokane, contributed $50. Linda and Stephen Howe, of Spokane, donated $50, as did George Durrie, of Cheney. Clyde Ylitalo, of Coeur d’Alene, sent $50. Betty Thompson, of Spokane, contributed $50, as did David and Judith Nail, of Spokane. Janice Liane, of Spokane, gave $50 via PayPal.
Gary and Jan Huguenin, of Spokane, gave $50 in memory of their loved ones, Roger Huguenin and Patricia Clough. Dick and Shirley McGee, of Spokane, gave $50. “Thanks for all you do to help the less fortunate of our community have a Merry Christmas,” they wrote. Beverly Gibb contributed $50, as did Phillip Schumaker, of Spokane. Tom and Pam Ruckhaber, of Spokane, sent $50.
Marilyn and Doug Lloyd, of Spokane, gave $50. Theresa Schimmels, of Spokane Valley, donated $50 via PayPal in honor of Myrna and the late Gary Schimmels Sr.
An anonymous donor gave $40 “in loving memory of Annabelle.” Ellen Woolf and Linda Burrow, of Spokane, gave $40. “Thanks for helping others for Christmas,” they wrote.
Teri Maurice and Tracy Howe, both of Spokane, each gave $25. Ada and Karla Honda gave $25 in memory of Harry Honda. “Spokesman-Review, outstanding in remembering the children and families of Spokane at Christmas,” they wrote. “Thank you everyone who participates in this most worthwhile project!”
Linnea Carlson, of Spokane, donated $25.
For donations made through PayPal, The Spokesman-Review contributed the processing fee.