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Smiles say it all about Santa Fund

One man shows up each year to donate $1,000. In cash. Others who once benefited now give. And 54 years after it began, the Union Leader Santa Fund to support the Salvation Army remains a robust community tradition. (See donor list, Page B1.)The proof is in the thank-yous, in the smiles from those helped in a time of need and, of course, in the numbers.

In 2013, the Union Leader Santa Fund raised a total of $192,619.75.

The Union Leader Santa Fund was first established at the Post Office Fruit luncheonette in Manchester after a chance 1959 meeting between the Salvation Army major and the then-editor of the Union Leader. The Santa Fund raised $1,000 in its first year to support the Salvation Army's Christmas effort. Since then, the Santa Fund has raised more than $7.1 million. Santa Fund donations help qualified applicants to receive clothing, meals and toys during the holidays.

The money also supports the Kids' Cafe, summer camps and other programs at the Salvation Army.

"It's hard to not be inspired," said Shannon Sullivan, community relations manager for the New Hampshire Union Leader. "There's just a lot of people who are generous and people are persistent about making their donation."

Sullivan thanked residents and business people who regularly donate to the Santa Fund, as well as the families and individuals who are new contributors.

The fundraising effort also raised money from the sale of more than 300 copies of "The Christmas Coin," a children's book written by New Hampshire Union Leader staff writer Mark Hayward, which featured illustrations by children from the Salvation Army's youth programs.

Santa Fund beneficiaries qualify for the assistance through the Salvation Army. The New Hampshire Union Leader oversees fundraising and administration, while the Salvation Army in Manchester makes the decisions on where the money goes. Sometimes the donations help a single parent. Sometimes the money helps a family down on its luck. Whatever the circumstances, the Santa Fund helps out.


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