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January 01. 2013 10:49PM

Benefactor lifts Santa Fund tally


MANCHESTER - A gift from one of its most generous benefactors has helped push the New Hampshire Union Leader Christmas Fund for the Salvation Army to $216,845.12 for the 2012 campaign.

The family of retired business executive Robert Smith of Gilford donated $5,000 to the fund's 53rd annual drive this week, a substantial donation any year, and especially appreciated by fund organizers at a time when many in the community are still struggling economically.

"We've been supporting the Santa Fund for years," Smith said. "We started at least 15 years ago."

Joseph McQuaid, president of Union Leader Corp. and publisher of the Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News, said the gift, received Monday, was a fitting way to round out the holiday season.

"The Smiths' last-minute gift puts a wonderful exclamation point on the 2012 Santa Fund story," McQuaid said. "It has been a tough go with this stubborn economy but somehow, some way, people like Bob Smith and his family and many others find a way to write a happy ending."

Smith is a former treasurer of American Express Corp. and was chief executive of its American Express Bank.

He was also a partner in Car Component Technologies of Bedford, which manufactured automobile parts. His work with that firm brought Smith into direct contact with people working to improve their economic standing.

"We used to hire some of the immigrant people landing in Manchester and realized how important it was to give back to the community," Smith said. "It supports children and children in need."

McQuaid stressed that the success of the fund lies in the generosity of all donors, the people who contribute what they can every year, ranging from substantial gifts such as that received from the Smith family to the coins of schoolchildren.

"We thank them all," McQuaid said.

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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