The Union Leader Santa Fund raised just over $190,000 this Christmas season — about $10,000 more than last year, with individual donations increasing by more than 200.
In a year when the newspaper had to cancel its annual Santa Fund luncheon fundraiser and move the traditional silent auction online, donors stepped up to fill the gap.
“We are thrilled to see how the community came together to support the Santa Fund and the kids in our community this year,” said Stephanie Baxter, the Union Leader’s events and public relations manager. “Individuals and companies were so generous, and we are happy to support the Salvation Army and their youth programs like the Kids Cafe.”
The Union Leader Santa Fund has supported the Salvation Army for 60 years. Santa Fund dollars provide warm clothing, meals and toys for local families during the holidays, as well as support for summer camps and other programs and services.
Requests for assistance this season increased by 155%, according to Capt. Scott McNeil, commanding officer of Manchester’s Salvation Army.
Many people asking for assistance were applying to the program for the first time, underscoring the financial strain that hit families in 2020 as the pandemic hammered businesses and led to layoffs and job losses.
In its first year, the Santa Fund brought in $1,000 to support The Salvation Army’s Christmas efforts. Since then, the campaign has raised nearly $8 million from local businesses and individual donors.
And it’s not too late to give: Contribute to the Santa Fund at unionleader.com/santafund or mail a check to The Santa Fund, c/o New Hampshire Union Leader, PO Box 9555, Manchester, NH 03109.