MERCED — Area residents are responding generously to the Salvation Army's appeal for assistance for the annual "A Helping Hand at Christmas" program.
Elaine Gale, program chairwoman, said $23,795 has been received toward the program's $65,000 goal for this season. She said she is sensing that donors are giving more this year.
Helping Hand is a joint effort between the Merced Salvation Army branch and the Merced Sun-Star. It was started 25 years ago by the late John Wainwright.
During that time, more than $1.1 million has been donated for the less fortunate over the holidays.
Last year, $51,000 was donated to the program.
Capt. Joel Harmon, the Salvation Army commander in Merced, said charitable giving is on par with last year's donations, but that more people appear to be in need this year.
Barbara Wainwright remains involved with the program started by her late husband. She said she has noticed donors are very generous with their contributions.
Gale has been interviewing applicants for aid last week and this week. She has noticed quite a bit of sickness, as well as the need for rental assistance and help paying utility bills.
Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.