Santa’s Helper Fund

Posted Nov. 26, 2009, at 8:27 p.m.

With the nation and Maine mired in a recession, holiday shopping is likely to be sluggish. Things are even less festive for families where jobs have been lost or chronic underemployment have made it difficult to pay the everyday bills. So before you finish — or start — your holiday shopping and celebrations, please remember those who cannot afford the presents that most people take for granted, who struggle to feed their families without hope of putting gifts under Christmas trees.

For more than 140 years the Salvation Army has been remembering those in need. Started in 1865 in England by William Booth, an itinerant preacher, to provide religious services to the poor who were not welcomed in the local churches, the Salvation Army describes itself as “an international evangelical Christian movement with a strong social conscience.”

While the red kettles are a familiar sight during the Christmas season, the local Salvation Army works year-round. It served tens of thousands of meals last year to area residents. Its volunteers were in nursing homes, group homes and jails throughout central and Down East Maine, accomplishing countless acts of charity, large and small.

Since 1973, the Bangor Daily News has sponsored the Santa’s Helper Fund, which raises money for the Salvation Army to buy food, clothes and toys for needy Maine families during the holiday season. More than $750,000 has been collected in the last 13 years. Thousands of toys, articles of clothing and meals have been distributed from Bangor to Millinocket, from Eastport to Newport, to friends and neighbors in need. All of the money received by the fund goes directly to the Salvation Army with the funds directed to the charity’s unit closest to the contributor’s hometown. It is truly neighbor helping neighbor.

This year, Bangor Savings Bank has generously agreed to match every dollar donated to the fund, doubling the benefit of each financial gift. This year’s fund has an ambitious goal of raising $100,000.

“We’re honored to work with the Bangor Daily News and Salvation Army to provide this level of attention and assistance to address needs that are greater than ever this holiday season,” said Jim Conlon, president and CEO of Bangor Savings Bank.

Gifts in the past have been given by families, social groups, businesses, in the name of loved ones, anonymously and even in memory of a cherished pet.

Donations may be sent to Santa’s Helper Fund, The Salvation Army, P.O. Box 567, Bangor, ME 04401, or may be made securely online at www.Bangor.SalvationArmyME.org.

Donations will be listed in the Bangor Daily News, but may also be made anonymously or in someone’s memory. Your gifts and generosity will be greatly appreciated and will help your community.

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