The holidays this year may be less than festive for families for which lost jobs 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 and 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. Founded 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, raising nearly $900,000. The funds raised help provide Christmas toys for children, meals for those who are hungry, heating assistance for those who are struggling to pay their bills and food baskets for families who have to make tough choices between paying the rent and buying groceries.
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’s goal is to raise $50,000.
The fund got a significant boost this year when Bangor Savings Bank announced it would match the first $25 of each donation, up to a total of $25,000.
“It takes a lot for people in Maine to ask for help. When they do, we do what we can to be there,” said Jim Conlon, president and CEO of Bangor Savings Bank. “That’s why we support initiatives like the Santa’s Helper Fund. We’re honored to work with the Bangor Daily News and The Salvation Army to provide this level of attention and assistance to address basic needs this holiday season.”
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 1403, Bangor, 04401, or may be made securely online at www.Bangor.SalvationArmyME.org.
Donations will be listed in the Bangor Daily News, but also may be made anonymously or in someone’s memory. Your gifts and generosity will be greatly appreciated and will help your community.