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December 30. 2012 11:54PM

Santa Fund donations benefit many

MANCHESTER - This is the first year that Salvation Army Lieutenants Herb and Miriam Rader experienced the Union Leader Santa Fund for the Salvation Army, and they were impressed.

"I think it's a wonderful thing the community does," said Herb Rader. "It's unique."

There is never a goal set for the Santa Fund. It depends on the generosity of the community to enable it to help needy families at Christmas and with other programs.

This year, support from individuals, companies and businesses totaled $211,845.12.

New Hampshire Union Leader President and Publisher Joseph W. McQuaid said: "It was a tough year for the economy here, and the stories the Santa Fund told in our pages were indicative of that. But the generosity of spirit is an amazing thing to see. The Union Leader and Sunday News thank our readers and local businesses for a reminder that Greater Manchester is a special place."

The new lieutenants, who came from a Connecticut assignment, arrived to command the Manchester Corps in August, shortly before the 30th annual Toy Run from Concord to the Union Leader building that is sponsored by the New Hampshire Motorcyclists' Rights Organization (NHMRO).

Herb Rader noted the number of toys the riders bring, many of them special toys, are added to those ordered by the Salvation Army for the Toy Shop.

This year, parents visiting the Toy Shop could select four toys for each child, up to age 12. They also received stocking stuffers, a bag of breads from Freihoffer's bakery and a grocery store gift card,

More than 1,050 families, many with two or more children, were approved for the Santa Fund program

The Santa Fund is not just for families on welfare, although some families are. There are families on disability, others who lost jobs, some parents have split up, an unexpected medical or vehicle expense busted other families' budgets, and some families just can't stretch the budget any more, even with both parents working.

They are the families that come to the Santa Fund for assistance.

Donations to the Santa Fund come in large and small amounts. Some are anonymous, others honor a living or deceased family member. Shawn and John Wroblewski honored their son, Marine 2nd Lt. John T. Wroblewski, who was killed in Iraq in 2004. Michael Murphy honored both Marine Lance Cpl. Adam R. Brooks, who was killed in action in Iraq in 2004, and Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Daniel Healy of Seal Team 10, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2005.

The Dec. 14 school shootings in Newtown, Conn., prompted a number of donations, including, "In memory of 20 innocent kids and 6 brave teachers from Ollie the Elf," and "In memory of the 26 victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School from Paul & Lois Nickerson." And then there was, "Realizing we are safe, loved and lucky from Ms. Kurtz's First Grade Class, Highland Goffe's Falls School"

But not every donation was in memory.

"Merry Christmas from Doug & Carrol," "Happy Holidays from the Longmeadow Ladies Circle," and "Owen and Geneva wished a Merry Christmas & Blessings to All." Organizations and businesses, including the Postal Mail Handlers Union, AT&T, the Manchester Education Association, Bonneville & Son, the Eddie B. Foundation and Four T's Realty Trust donated.

The Santa Fund welcomes all the donations because they help pay for toys for the Toy Shop, warm clothing for hundreds of children, a week at summer camp in Maine for some children, partial costs of the Kids Cafe program that feeds children four nights a week and provides programming to help them succeed in school and in life, supports holiday meals for seniors and small gifts distributed during visits to the aged and infirm in nursing homes.

While the Salvation Army is a church, its programs are open to all in need and the Santa Fund helps with some of those programs

"It's a part of the Salvation Army that belongs to the community," said Herb Rader. He said it's not typical in most communities to have something like the Santa Fund, which helps people of any religion who are in need.

So thank you, all of you who donated to the Union Leader Santa Fund for the Salvation Army. Your donations are being put to good use.


How to donate

Santa Fund donations can be made by completing the online form by clicking "Donate" below or send a check to:

c/o New Hampshire Union Leader
P.O. Box 9555
Manchester, NH 03108

You can also drop off the printed form in our newspaper and a donation in the Santa Fund box at the Union Leader, 100 William Loeb Drive in Manchester from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. We will also have a donation drop box at the Intown Manchester Holiday Market on Thursday, November 29 and every Thursday in December.

Share a holiday greeting

With your donation, the Union Leader will publish a short holiday message in the newspaper. Just write it up exactly as you would have it appear, printing clearly, and mail it along with your donation. If you prefer to donate online, follow the link on the page following the transaction to submit a Christmas message.

For more information, please contact Shannon Sullivan, Union Leader Community Relations Manager, at (603) 206-7833 or ssullivan@unionleader.com

The Union Leader Santa Fund is a community tradition that has supported the Salvation Army for more than 50 years. The Santa Fund was first established at the Post Office Fruit in Manchester after a chance 1959 meeting between the Salvation Army major and the then-editor of the Union Leader.

In its first year, the Santa Fund brought in $1,000 to support the Salvation Armys Christmas effort. Since then, the Santa Fund has raised nearly $6.8 million, thanks to the generosity of the community and local businesses. Santa Fund dollars continue to provide warm clothing, meals and toys during the holidays, as well as support Kids Caf, summer camps and other critical programs throughout the year. Last year's drive brought in over $240,000 thanks to the generosity of local businesses and residents, bringing the lifetime total to nearly $6.8 million.

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