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PAWTUCKET â€” With summer fading into the busy autumn season, there are not many people thinking about Christmas. Yet, with the economic need of the local community being so large, the Salvation Army must start planning early for the upcoming holiday, and the Times wants to be there as a partner to help.
With that in mind, The Times is kicking off its annual â€śMerry Christmas Fundâ€ť which benefits the Salvation Army of Pawtucket. Now in its 30th year, the Merry Christmas Fund is used by the Salvation Army to provide food baskets and gifts of toys, games and clothing to hundreds of area families who are struggling financially. The Times will be collecting donations from now through the holiday season, including during Friday night's Gala and â€śTaste of Pawtucketâ€ť events that are part of the 2012 Pawtucket Arts Festival.
Mary Lynn Bosiak, publisher of the Times, the Call and Neighbors, notes that since 1982, the Times has been inviting individuals, groups, businesses and organizations to make donations to the Merry Christmas Fund to help those less fortunate have a happier holiday. â€śOver the years, over $730,000 has been raised through a combination of donations and fundraising activities,â€ť she said.
Last year, the Times raised $7,000 and presented a check to the Salvation Army at the organization's open house at its High Street facility in May, Bosiak said. This season, the Times has set a goal of $9,500, and just received the first donation: a $25 check from Michael and Ryan Pirtle in loving memory of their grandparents, Thomas and Louise Holden.
All donations to the Merry Christmas Fund will be published in the Times, except for those that are requested to be anonymous, Bosiak added.
Capt. Persi Sanclemente of the Salvation Army noted that although summer is ending and Christmas seems far away, â€śneed knows no season.â€ť She said that over 900 households are expected to register with the Salvation Army for assistance, so it is not too early to gear up for the upcoming holiday season.
Sanclemente said that while many children benefit from the state of Rhode Island's holiday toy program, there are hundreds who do not because they are not registered with the Department of Human Services or receiving some form of public assistance. There are numerous local children whose parents are working extra hard just to make ends meet. â€śWe don't want to turn anyone away this year. We want to fulfill our promise of 'Doing the Most Good,' but we can't do it without the community's support,â€ť said Sanclemente. â€śEvery contribution counts and no contribution is too small,â€ť she added.
Look for the Times' tent at Friday's Gala and â€śTaste of Pawtucketâ€ť events along Roosevelt Avenue to make a donation to the Merry Christmas Fund. Otherwise, donations can be made by stopping by the Times office at 123 Exchange St., Pawtucket, or by sending a check, payable to the Merry Christmas Fund, to the Times, 23 Exchange St., Pawtucket, RI 02860.