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Joe McQuaid's Publisher's Notebook: Santa Fund is one of the best things we do

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote to complain that the Lady of the New House had determined that we would be getting a faux fir for a Christmas tree this year. A few days later, a real tree showed up at my office door.

Okay, then. Today, I have decided to complain about my old car. I can't wait to see what tomorrow's UPS man will be delivering. (Hint: I'd like to go made-in-America, please. Perhaps that new Lincoln that can parallel park itself.)

I have Jane Difley and the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests to thank for the real tree, a gorgeous sample of the trees they grow at The Rocks estate in Bethlehem. If you haven't got your tree yet, check out The Rocks. It's worth the road trip.

Hmmm. Maybe if I complain about the electric bill, Gary Long of PSNH will shower me with free sparks. He and Jane are having a bit of a dispute these days over something called Northern Pass.

Jane's note said that if I couldn't use the real tree at home, I should put it to good use here at the Union Leader, so I did.

We auctioned it to benefit our Santa Fund for the Salvation Army. And the guy who had the winning bid has his own Christmas tree farm. I guess he wanted to see what the real pros can do with a fir.

The Union Leader Santa Fund for the Salvation Army here in Manchester is one of the best things we do as a company. It has become a lot more meaningful than just a toy drive, although toys are a part of it and certainly a big part of Christmas.

The Santa Fund helps individuals and families have a bit nicer Christmas when they are struggling with low-paying jobs or no jobs at all. The stories in our city edition this year have told of people struggling, too, with serious health problems or broken homes or no homes at all. The Santa Fund helps with food, clothing, and even vouchers for summer camp for kids who would otherwise not get to go.

People familiar with the Salvation Army and the Santa Fund know all this. The stories are more a reminder than a need to convince them to give.

The other day, Christy DeTrude, who along with Shannon Sullivan works as hard as Santa's elves this time of year in our community relations office, unlocked the big red Santa Fund box in our lobby and opened a check for $10,000. The donor wished to remain anonymous.

Can you imagine? That's what Christmas is, still is, for a lot of people. Whether it's five dollars from a youngster or $50 in lieu of Christmas cards or something a bit more substantial, it is about remembering that greatest gift that came to mankind in the most humble of circumstances on a cold winter's night long ago.

Write to Joe McQuaid at publisher@unionleader.com.

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