The Christmas Bureau opens this week. Here’s what you need to know.
Christmas is approaching, but the first day of the Christmas Bureau is approaching even faster. The doors of the bureau will swing open at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Spokane County Fairgrounds and there are few things people can gather ahead of time to help make their time in line as short as possible.
The bureau is not limited to Spokane residents. Anyone within driving distance of Spokane is welcome to come and there are no income limits. In fact, income is not verified.
What is verified is people’s identity, their address and how many people live at that address. Adults need to bring photo identification for themselves and each person over 18 who lives in the household. Adults also need to have proof of address, which can be a current utility bill or other bill listing their name and address.
Children do not need to have photo identification, but parents need to bring something that identifies their children by name and also lists their address and dates of birth. Local schools, day care centers and social service agencies such as the Department of Social and Health Services can supply a letter giving that information. WIC folders will be accepted as identification for children, but Medicaid cards will not.
As in years past, DSHS will be on site to provide verification letters for families, but there will be a change in the process, said Christmas Bureau coordinator Sierra Heinen.
Last year there was a large increase in people waiting until they arrived at the bureau to get their verification letter from DSHS. On the bureau’s first day in 2017, use of DSHS verification was up 41 percent and the amount of time spent waiting in line rose to 4.5 hours, Heinen said.
“This year we’ve created a new waiting section,” Heinen said.
People who need DSHS verification of their household information will use a separate waiting area. “They’re going to have their own special computers,” she said. “That should speed up the line for those that brought their identification.”
Doing it this way may increase the time people spend waiting for DSHS verification, Heinen said, so people are encouraged to gather that documentation before they arrive at the bureau.
“They can reach out to DSHS ahead of time,” she said. “They have letters they give out just for the Christmas Bureau.”
Heinen said Catholic Charities is committed to still having DSHS on site to help people who can’t arrange their verification in advance. “We’re still going to offer that option because we know it can be difficult,” she said.
New donations of $13,241 have brought the year-to-date total to $121,625.04, still a long way from the bureau’s goal of $525,000.
The fund got a big boost from Kristianne and John Blake, of Spokane, who donated $5,000.
Bill and Sharon Bronson, of Spokane, gave $1,000.
Gunhild Clegg, of Spokane, sent $500 along with a note that began “Dear Elves.” “It is my pleasure to add to your funds to help give to many people in the Spokane area such wonderful Christmas joy!” he wrote. “I enjoy my memory of such a Christmas long ago and hope this gift will give many children that same feeling of absolute amazement and happiness this Christmas. Merry Christmas to all your elfish friends who come to the bureau to help you!”
Donald Tuttle and Donald Moore, both of Spokane, each contributed $500. An anonymous Spokane Valley donor gave $500 “to make Christmas brighter for our neighbors.”
Doug and Andrea Dominey, of Veradale, donated $400. Cyrus and Janet Vaughn, of Spokane, donated $300. An anonymous Spokane donor gave $300, writing, “Really value everyone making this fund a reality – thank you!”
Jean Hong donated $250 via PayPal “in loving memory of my sweet mother Eunhi Hong.” John Stine, of Spokane, gave $250. The Vinje sisters – Prasti Vinje Purdum, of Seattle, Astrid Vinje (Bush), of Mexico, and Michelle Vinje (Petty), of Edmonds, Washington, – donated $210.
Jerry and Mary Anne Littlemore, of Spokane, donated $200. “Merry Christmas to all of the workers and those who make this Christmas cheer happen,” they wrote. “We send the money in memory of our parents and our son, Jerry Jr. Bless all of you.”
Bonnie Nelson, of Spokane, gave $200 in memory of her husband. “God bless all the families that need this and the volunteers that work so hard to bring them a Merry Christmas,” she wrote. Dallas and Corrine Dixon, of Spokane, contributed $200. Peggy and James Ellingson, of Colbert, donated $200.
Michael and Doreen Lewis, of Spokane Valley, gave $151. “Thanks to the Spokesman-Review and all the generous volunteers,” they wrote. Mike and Kathy Eaton, of Spokane, sent $150. An anonymous Spokane Valley donor sent $150, writing, “Thank you for all the joy you provide to the community over the holidays. I’m sorry to hear donations are lagging this year. We can afford to give a little more this year.”
An anonymous Spokane donor contributed $150, $100 of that in memory of Joe and Irene Lynch, of Coulee Dam, and $50 of it in memory of Don Morley, of Coulee Dam. Cyrus McLean, of Spokane, gave $150.
George and Barbara Stevens, of Spokane, donated $125. “God’s blessings to one and all for the blessings you bestow on the less fortunate,” they wrote. “Bless you. Thank you!” James English, of Colville, gave $120.
James and Jeanelle Koppa, of Spokane Valley, sent $100. Cynthia, Kyile and Kaitlyn LeBlanc, of Greenacres, donated $100. Edith Helfer, of Coeur d’Alene, donated $100. Donna Isaak, of Spokane Valley, gave $100 “in loving memory of Leona and Emil Isaak.” Gary Mundel, of Spokane, gave $100 via PayPal, as did Theophil Otto, of Cheney.
Diana Barry, Edward Ellefsen and Wayne Attwood, all of Spokane, each contributed $100. Jim and Marlene McBride, of Nine Mile Falls, donated $100, as did Julie Peck, of Medical Lake. Linda Van Lierop, of Spokane Valley, gave $100, as did Julie and Mark Nevdahl, of Spokane.
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $50 in memory of Cathy. Joyce Kretchmer and William Childs donated $50. Kay Anderson, of Spokane, sent $50. “Thank you for doing this,” she wrote. Gordon and Terry Radford, of Hayden, donated $50. Matt and Barbara DePauli, of Spokane, gave $50, as did James Teague, of Medical Lake.
William and Gelene Griffiths, of Nine Mile Falls, gave $40, as did Ruth DeHart, of Spokane Valley. Linda and Denny Young, of Spokane, contributed $25. “Thank you for what you do!” they wrote. “Merry Christmas.” An anonymous Spokane donor gave $20. Alan Fisher, of Cheney, donated $10.
For donations made through PayPal, The Spokesman-Review contributed the processing fee.