MERCED -- Area residents have donated almost $42,000 to the annual A Helping Hand at Christmas program administered by the Merced Salvation Army branch.
The program, cosponsored by the Merced Sun-Star, has a $65,000 fund-raising goal this year. It was established about two dozen years ago by the late John Wainwright. Contributions go to meet the needs of needy area residents.
"I'm overwhelmed with all of the need," Helping Hand Chairwoman Elaine Gale said. "We appreciate donations from the community. We're trying to help as many as we can."
Gale said the Salvation Army feels it will reach its fund-raising goal. Last year, area residents contributed $51,000 toward a $65,000 goal. Since the program began, more than $1 million has been contributed to needy residents.
Capt. Joel Harmon, Salvation Army commander, said it seems the need is even greater this year. Many people have been interviewed this month, and Harmon hopes they will be able to assist many of them.
Car repairs and help with rental and utilities top this year's needs, Gale said.
Donations may be made payable to A Helping Hand at Christmas, 23 W. Alexander Ave., PMB 68, Merced, CA., 95348. Donors have the option of having an appropriate message of 10 words or less printed in the Sun-Star or they can remain anonymous.
Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or email@example.com.