Promise made in Vietnam results in sending of 10,000 gifts this year


SAN JOSE, Calif. -- In 1963, Gloria Spanier's brother and his wife, both Army medical corps members, were sent to Vietnam.

"I was a basket case," she said. "I made a promise to God -- and to the Army, to the Vietnamese, to everybody I could think of -- that if they returned alive I would be a do-gooder for 20 years."

They did return alive. And being do-gooders, for Spanier and her husband, Evan, has meant each year spending 18 percent to 20 percent of their combined income for gifts for thousands of needy and elderly people.

This year, 10,000 gifts were given by Gloria Spanier, director of human resources and administration for Acurex, a Mountain View, Calif., environmental research firm, and Evan Spanier, vice president of engineering for Voelker Technology in Danville, Calif.

Gifts such as the 175 packs that went out last week to clients of John XXIII Multiservice Center in San Jose, each containing candy and items for kitchen, bath and personal use. Or gifts such as packages for 75 residents and staff members at CityTeam Ministries Rescue Mission on Old Bayshore Highway, each containing a dozen items such as stocking cap, set of writing tablets with pencils, shampoo and socks.

"It makes Christmas become Christmas for them," said Chaplain Sharon Vaughn, one of the staff members who distribute gifts Spanier takes to CityTeam's alcohol and drug abuse recovery building.

When Spanier arrives each Christmas and Easter, the men in the recovery building are waiting because they know who she is, Vaughn said.

"When she passes out the packages, there's a lot of laughter, joking, jubilance. It's a heart-warming thing. There's a lot of gratitude, but it's fun, too. They're like little kids. There's a lot of curiosity to see what's in the packages," Vaughn said.

Pub Date: 12/25/97

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