Area residents donated $44,665 to the just-concluded “A Helping Hand at Christmas” program jointly operated by the Merced Salvation Army Corps and the Merced Sun-Star.
While the 2013 program goal was $55,000, program coordinator Elaine Gale said many people were still aided by the holiday fundraising effort.
“While we didn’t make our goal, I want to thank the community for backing up the Salvation Army,” Gale said. “We were able to help a lot of people in dire need. Those who gave were generous. We thank them so much for their love and compassion in helping those less fortunate.”
The Helping Hand program began 26 years ago, and more than $1.1 million has been raised for the Salvation Army’s relief programs. Much of the donations has gone toward rental assistance, utility payments or car repairs, along with Christmas baskets for about 300 families.
Jason Cross, the Sun-Star’s publisher and ad director, thanked those who supported the Helping Hand program.
“I would like to thank everyone involved with the Helping Hand effort as well as all the people who donated this year and years past,” Cross said. “Over the past 25 years this program has supported local residents in need by raising over $1 million, and the Sun-Star looks forward to supporting this effort again next year.”
The late John Wainwright, a local real estate agent and developer, initiated the Helping Hand program here after noticing that a similar program in Monterey was doing well. The Sun-Star publicizes the fundraising drive, and the Salvation Army is in charge of distributing the donations.