MERCED -- The holiday fund-raising drive "A Helping Hand at Christmas" came up about $500 short of the previous year's yield but the donations should help less-fortunate residents for several months.
The Helping Hand program jointly conducted by the Merced Salvation Army branch and the Sun-Star raised $50,500 for the 2012 campaign, compared with $51,000 raised in 2011, according to Capt. Joel Harmon, Salvation Army commander here.
A $65,000 fund-raising goal had been established for the 2011 and 2012 campaigns.
Harmon said the Helping Hand funds will assist area residents through March or possibly April.
"It's really a big help; it's really great," Harmon said.
The commander said The Salvation Army's Helping Hand, kettle drive and food distribution went smoothly this year. He said the needs expressed this year were greater than in previous years.
Harmon is expecting a few more donations to trickle in over the next few weeks.
Helping Hand was created by the late John Wainwright of Merced. In two dozen years, more than $1 million has been raised over the Christmas holidays to help the less fortunate.
Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or email@example.com.