A record year for donations and requests

When we launched the an­nu­al Christ­mas ap­peal in mid-Oc­to­ber, our goal was simple — to raise more money and help more people than we did last year.

Thanks to the gen­er­os­ity of our read­ers, we have done just that.

This sea­son, we have mailed $50 gift cards to 212 people or fam­il­ies and four so­cial ser­vice or­gan­iz­a­tions that work with fam­il­ies in need. In 2011, the North­east Times’ Elean­or Smylie Fund as­sisted about 120 fam­il­ies and three or­gan­iz­a­tions.

The amount of donated money also in­creased this year, to $9,488, up about $2,000 over 2011.

That felt great for those of us who worked on the ap­peal. But what really mat­ters is the in­di­vidu­al stor­ies be­hind the num­bers. Those stor­ies came weekly in our mail, from people who told us they needed help buy­ing food for a Christ­mas din­ner or toys for their kids.

We learned about an iron­work­er who suffered a bad in­jury on the job, spent weeks in re­hab and his fam­ily was hav­ing trouble mak­ing ends meet. We heard from a single mom who told us she is “hop­ing and pray­ing every day that the lights, wa­ter and gas don’t get turned off.”

One mom told us how hard it was for her to ask for help for her 5-year-old daugh­ter. “I fi­nally swal­lowed my pride and de­cided to write to you.”

One fel­low even asked us not to tell his wife that he had writ­ten for help, and we ob­liged.

The let­ters were of­ten poignant, and most heart­warm­ing of all were those who wrote ask­ing for help for a neigh­bor or friend, and not for them­selves.

In ad­di­tion to the many re­quests for help, the weekly mail­bag brought us check after check from read­ers who were on sol­id ground and look­ing for a way to give back. Oth­ers wanted to hon­or the memory of a loved one. We pub­lished the names of every donor who would al­low us to do so, our very own “read­ers hall of hon­or.”

Thanks to all the donors, we know that dozens of chil­dren had the ex­cite­ment  of un­wrap­ping a gift on Christ­mas morn­ing. Just as im­port­ant, their par­ents could watch as a look of won­der crossed their son’s or daugh­ter’s face.

This year’s Christ­mas ap­peal proves once again that the Great North­east has a big, beat­ing heart.

Happy New Year to all.  ••

Elean­or Smylie Fund Donors

This week’s donors are:

• Heidi Bow­man: $25

• Wal­ter Dom­browski: $20

• Helen Hanto: $10

• Bon­nie Hughes: $100

• Justice for Fam­il­ies and Chil­dren: $60

• The Stech­er Fam­ily: $40

• Mar­garet Whit­lock: $10

In re­mem­brance

• In memory of Joe and Betty Shields: $25

• In memory of An­gel­ica, Re­gina and Brid­get Shields: $25

Giv­en an­onym­ously

• An­onym­ously: $25

Reach Ed­it­or Lil­lian Swan­son at 215-354-3030 or lswan­son@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at lswanson@bsmphilly.com.

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