MERCED — The Merced Salvation Army branch has collected $43,435 with more expected for the annual "A Helping Hand at Christmas" program.
Capt. Joel Harmon, Salvation Army commander, said that while they won't reach the initial $65,000 goal, he is happy with the community's response to the holiday relief program, operated in coordination with the Merced Sun-Star.
"Donations are still trickling in," Harmon said. "We have helped about the same amount of people as last year. We are looking forward to helping as many people as we can."
Helping Hand Chairwoman Elaine Gale said the program has helped as many people as it could.
Barbara Wainwright, whose late husband John Wainwright founded the program 25 years ago, said several large donations are expected, which will swell total contributions. The Helping Hand program raised $51,000 last year, and a few contributions are received after the first of the year.
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 Merced Sun-Star, or they can remain anonymous.
Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.