Cheney Free Press -


Gifts are needed for Cheney kids


Now in its 12th year, recipient participation in Cheney’s Christmas Gifts for Cheney Kids remains steady, and perhaps even more so this season.

Project coordinator Sally Shamp said they began fielding inquiries about the annual gift drive in August and September. Because of that, they decided to open enrollment to families seeking gifts earlier this year, beginning taking names Nov. 6.

“It turns out that 60 kids have already been registered for the Christmas gifts by Nov. 13, and we hadn’t even started taking names before Thanksgiving last year when we served 178 children,” Shamp wrote in a Nov. 25 email.

While economic factors can contribute to the number of children taking part – the organization handed out gifts to 208 children in 2010 and 207 in 2011 – Shamp said the need is still very much present. Local businesses and organizations have signed up to provide 18 locations in Cheney where those wishing to contribute can drop off toys for children from toddlers through age 18. In fact, about 45 percent of those signing up are teenagers.

“And teenagers are the hardest to buy for,” Shamp said in a Nov. 27 interview. “Their personal tastes have been developed.”

Christmas Gifts for Cheney Kids are hoping to receive enough gifts to allow for three per child. Shamp has put together lists of possible gift ideas through a song that she performs at various organizations to round up support for the project. Last year it was “Santa Claus is coming to Cheney,” while this year’s number is “All I Want for Christmas.”

“The up to date gifts, not the two front teeth,” she said.

Gift ideas include books, sports balls, coats, blankets, gloves and scarves, MP3 players, toys, stuffed animals, games, skateboards and scooters (if found at discounted prices), bicycle and skateboard helmets and accessories, crafts, CDs/DVDs along with cologne for teenage boys and perfume for teenage girls. Clothing retailer Zumiez annually donates coats, typically black and geared toward skate and snowboarders, in teen and adult sizes, so coats in smaller sizes are needed too.

Shamp said the Spokane Valley Kiwanis chapter donated enough books to likely provide two per child, all of good quality.

Donations and sign ups take place through Dec. 19, with sign ups done at Cheney Outreach, located at 616 Third Street in the lower/east portion of the Wren Pierson Community Center, 235-9800. Sign ups are limited to Cheney-area families, and parents need to bring proof of residence – a utility bill for instance – income, photo ID and a family Social Security card.

Gift distribution takes place Friday, Dec. 20 at the Wren Pierson Community Center’s upper portion from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Shamp said families usually begin lining up early for the event.

Shamp added that monetary donations are also accepted. Checks should be made to Cheney Outreach, with the phrase “Christmas Gifts” written on the memo line, and can be dropped off or mailed to Cheney Outreach, P.O. Box 444, Cheney WA 99004.

Shamp also noted that Thrivent Financial for Lutherans has played a big part in the annual success of Christmas Gifts for Cheney Kids.

John McCallum can be reached at


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