May 22, 2024

The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund receives donations from all over

The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund has received donations from all over the region. Even the world.

Don and Vicki Gorder sent a donation from Buckeye, Arizona.

Vicki Gorder doesn’t remember exactly when the pair started donating.

“I think it’s probably between 25 and 30 years,” she said.

The Gorders were born and raised in Spokane but they sold their Spokane home in 2015 and started spending winters in Arizona. But they didn’t stop donating to the Christmas Bureau.

“It’s just a tradition,” Vicki Gorder said. “That’s one of our favorite charities that we support.”

They return to Spokane every summer because “Spokane is home.”

If they miss the Northwest during the winter, Vicki Gorder has a sign up in her home to remind her why she spends Christmas in Arizona.

“I have a little Christmas decoration that says ‘You don’t have to shovel sunshine,’ ” she said.

Bob and Judy Lee also donated from Arizona. Like the Gorders, they spend winters in Arizona and summers in Washington.

They donate each year in memory of their grandson and parents. While they aren’t in Spokane during the holidays, they feel it’s important to do their part.

“There’s certainly a lot of need in the world and not only in Spokane,” Bob Lee said.

Robert Ozolins-House, who grew up in Spokane, has been donating annually with his husband Erik for about eight years.

Erik Ozolins-House is in the U.S. Foreign Service so the pair isn’t in the United States often, let alone Spokane. In 2015 they contributed from Miami, in 2020 they sent from Bangkok this year it was from Cabo Verde, a group of islands off the coast of West Africa.

Still, Robert Ozolins-House said, “I come back to Spokane every chance I get.”

Robert Ozolins-House knew about the Christmas Bureau because his mother is a volunteer.

“She’s been doing it every year and, once I was on my feet economically enough, I knew it was important to give back to the city that raised me,” he said.

“The Spokanite in me is strong,” Robert Ozolins-House said. But “being from Spokane is not always the easiest when you’re abroad.”

It means he had to get up at 3 a.m. while in Germany to watch Gonzaga in the NCAA championships in 2017.

“When they were also in the championship game in 2021 I was in the middle of a meeting.” He kept tabs on the game by putting the score “just in the corner of my screen.”

The struggle is worth it though, Robert Ozolin-House said.

“Getting to see how Christmas is celebrated around the world, it’s a real joy to see that,” he said.

While abroad, Robert Ozolin-House keeps up with news in Spokane. Cabo Verde is seven hours ahead of Spokane so when he wakes up his morning paper is The Spokesman-Review’s evening edition: the Spokane Daily Chronicle.

“My heart will always be in Spokane,” he said.

In addition to the Gorders, the Lees and the Ozolins-Houses, there have been Christmas Bureau donations from Honolulu; Minneapolis; Atlanta; Kingwood, Texas; and Albuquerque.


The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund is getting closer to this year’s goal of $600,000. Thanks to more generous donations from the community the fund now sits at $489,398.46. Recent donations total $19,730.

The fund received $3,000 from Avista. “Avista recognizes the extraordinary need that exists for families this year,” Kristine Meyer wrote on behalf of the Avista Foundation.

Mike and Linda Jenson gave $2,500 writing “we hope it will help some local families enjoy Christmas.”

Thomas Kasson sent $2,000.

Bloom, of Spokane, and Angela Johnstone both donated $1,000.

Ronald Schoenberger donated $1,000 writing, “This is the 37th year the Schoenberger Family has contributed to the Christmas Fund. In memory of Shirley Schoenberger.”

Einar and Diane Larson gave $600.

Dinneen, Shirley Sample, Daniel Lennon, Linda Ashlock and an anonymous donor all donated $500.

M.D. Wolfe gave $500 “in loving memory of Dean Wolfe.”

Sheila Bonstead, of Walla Walla, sent $300.

Scott and Nancy Stowell, Theresa Utesch, George and Joyce Schroeder and Janice House each gave $250.

Connie Brunell donated $250 “in loving memory of Corinne Hirst.”

Larry and Tudy Hatch sent $200 writing, “keep up the good work.”

Edward Fisk, John and Donna Leaming, Donald and Diana Storey, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Inaba and Greg Gores each donated $200.

An anonymous donor sent $200.

Maddie, Lisa and Scott Ray sent $175. “Merry Christmas!” they wrote.

Jean Jalufka sent $150, as did Blaine Krebs and an anonymous donor.

Craig and Tonia Thielman donated $150. “Thanks for all you do every year, and thanks for letting us be a small part,” they wrote.

One anonymous donor sent $100 “in memory of Joe and Irene Lynch, of Coulee Dam” and $50 “in memory of Don Morely, of Grand Coulee” for a total of $150.

Terri Johnson, Dorothy Yohe, Mr. and Mrs. Tony Roche, Jim and Linda Hempel, Steven and Cyndy Alexander, Dianne Bongarts, Diane Hansen, Theodore Ketcham, Jeannette Murphy and Dean Nagel all donated $100.

Pam Medley and Randy Ulberg together gave $100. “This is the best community charity event!” they wrote.

Soroptimist International of Spokane sent $100.

Heidi and Dave Meany gave $100 writing, “an enormous thank you to all the volunteers who helped make the Christmas Bureau a success this year! You brought the magic!”

Barbara Jewell-Potter sent $100 “in memory of Ricky Houpt and his grandparents, Bill and Verna Jewell. They are missed, especially at this time of the year.”

Gail Kiser, Cheryl Scheideman, Richard Clapp and Rachelle Russell all sent $50.

Linda Smith donated $50. “Thanks again for doing such a wonderful thing for our area children!” she wrote.

Glen and Kim Taylor gave $50 writing, “thank you for your hard work.”

Ruthie Dearing and Glenn and Janet Gannon each sent $25.

Glenda Lindsay gave $5.

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