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January 04. 2014 11:24PM

Smith family's generosity is a Santa Fund tradition


MANCHESTER - For more than 15 years, organizers of the Union Leader Santa Fund for the Salvation Army have heard from one of their most generous benefactors around the holidays.

Like a Christmas card from an old friend, a donation from Gilford arrived last week, and once again Robert Smith did not disappoint. A $5,000 contribution from the retiree and his family helped push the 2013 Santa Fund total over $197,000.

"My wife and I donate to the Santa Fund every year because it's such a great cause," said Smith. "We make donations to several groups and organizations, but we always make it a point to support the Santa Fund because it helps children and other neighbors in need."

Joseph W. McQuaid, president of the Union Leader Corp. and Publisher of the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News, said the gift is deeply appreciated.

"With the economy still hard-pressed, Santa Fund overall donations were down a bit from last year, so the Smiths' continued generosity leaves us speechless, and very happy," McQuaid said.

Smith, a former treasurer of American Express Corp., was also a partner in Car Component Technologies of Bedford, which manufactured automobile parts. His family sold the company in 1999.

"We used to give more, but a few years ago we cut it back to $5,000," said Smith. "We are still in a position to donate, and we'll continue to give as long as we are able to do so."

The origins of the Union Leader Santa Fund can be traced to the Post Office Fruit luncheonette in Manchester following a 1959 discussion 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 and has raised more than $7.1 million in the years since.

Santa Fund donations help qualified applicants receive clothing, meals and toys during the holidays. Those helped by the Santa Fund qualify for assistance through the Salvation Army. The New Hampshire Union Leader oversees fundraising and administration, while the Salvation Army in Manchester determines where the money goes.

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

This year's fundraising total also benefited from sales of more than 300 copies of "The Christmas Coin," a children's book written by New Hampshire Union Leader staff writer Mark Hayward, featuring illustrations by children from the Salvation Army's youth programs.

"I would like the public to know that the needs of the community don't end with the conclusion of the holiday season," said Shannon Sullivan, community relations manager for the New Hampshire Union Leader. "The programs supported by the Santa Fund assist those in need throughout the year. All gifts are put to good use and are important to the great work being done all year long."


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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