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May 17. 2013 9:18PM

Union Leader Santa Fund receives Family Kids Champion Award

Joseph W. McQuaid, president and publisher of the Union Leader Corporation, is presented the Singer Family Kids Champion Award by Gary Singer, executive officer of Merchants Automotive Group Inc. (PAT GROSSMITH/UNION LEADER)

From left, Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, Gary Singer, executive officer of Merchants Automotive Group Inc., Joseph W. McQuaid, President and Publisher of the Union Leader Corp., and McQuaid’s grandson Charlie Cote pose for photos during the Salvation Army’s 2013 Camp for Kids Breakfast Friday at the Derryfield Country Club. (PAT GROSSMITH/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER — The New Hampshire Union Leader Santa Fund for The Salvation Army, which has raised about $7 million since it began 53 years ago to ensure needy families could enjoy presents on Christmas Day, was presented Friday with the Singer Family Kids Champion Award.

Union Leader Corp. President and Publisher Joseph W. McQuaid said he was honored to accept the award on behalf of the company's employees.

The award is presented annually by the Salvation Army at its Camp for Kids Breakfast, which this year was held at the Derryfield Country Club. It honors a community member for its support and advocacy for the city's disadvantage children.

McQuaid, in accepting the award, praised the newspaper's employees, singling out reporter Dale Vincent, who writes many of the Santa Fund stories; his daughter Katharine McQuaid Cote, a former Community Relations Director at the newspaper; Theresa Robinson, also a former director; and current Community Relations Director Shannon Sullivan and Community Relations Coordinator Christy Detrude.

Gary Singer, executive officer for Merchants Automotive Group, made the presentation. He said the Singer family is Jewish and believe in their faith, but also believe in the Salvation Army's mission, which transcends cultures and religions.

He said years ago the Singer family partnered with the Salvation Army in a successful campaign to raise $2 million to renovate their headquarters.

"This is very dear to our family," he said.

In presenting the award, he said the Santa Fund began in 1959 after a Manchester Union Leader editor, sitting inside the Post Office Fruit Luncheonette up the street from the newspaper then located on Amherst Street, overheard a Salvation Army captain saying he was worried how he was going to raise enough money to get people through Christmastime.

That first year, $1,000 was raised. Since then, donation have totaled about $7 million, funds that provide warm clothing, meals and toys to children during the holidays, as well as support summer camps and other critical programs throughout the year.

Santa Fund dollars are a significant part of The Salvation Army Manchester Corps' budget and essential to their programming.

The 2012 campaign raised $216,845.12

The 2013 Santa Fund Kickoff Luncheon will be held on Nov. 21 at the Radisson Hotel in Downtown Manchester.

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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