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Editorial: Looking for a miracle

The story of how Spencer Murphy started the Salisbury Post’s Christmas Happiness Fund appears in the Post nearly as regularly as the Christmas story itself.
This year, it’s different.
For one thing, we’re telling it today instead of Thanksgiving Day, when the campaign will kick off.
For another, we expect the need to be greater than it has ever been. Thousands of unemployed people in Rowan are deep in the throes of the Great Recession.
And, finally, we want to drive home the fact that Christmas Happiness money often goes toward giving a child the “gift” of a warm coat or a new pair of shoes. Christmas Happiness is not about excess or frivolity. It’s about helping children who live on the edge and giving them some joy.
So Spencer Murphy’s story has great urgency this year.
The year was 1952. Murphy was editor of the Salisbury Post. His office was often a haven for people down on their luck and needing a kind word, a cup of hot coffee or a few dollars to tide them over. “Six feet and one inch tall, Murphy is 200 pounds of abject sympathy for the human race,” a reporter once wrote.
Here is what he wrote that Christmas season that affected so many lives. The headline said “Help!”
“Mrs. Paul Donnelly, chief of the County Welfare Office, tells the Post that there are more than 600 children in more than 250 families in this county for whom Christmas won’t be much different from any other day, unless miracles happen.
“In many cases these children and their families need shoes and coats and belly-filling food first ó a holiday banquet and toys second. Mrs. Donnelly and her staff know day-by-day and year-by-year.
“The Post can’t think of any happier pursuit as Christmas nears than helping make a lot of miracles.
“So we want to collect a special Christmas Happiness Fund to turn over to the department for use as the fine folk down there know it can be best used.
“Time is short. If you would like to help make a miracle, won’t you hurry?”
Time is short. That’s why we’re especially hopeful Christmas Happiness will have a strong start this Thanksgiving Day. The need is great. Murphy started a tradition that Post readers have always responded to generously. Every cent will go to the Rowan County Department of Social Services, which will issue qualified families a voucher for $25 for each child, up to a family maximum of $100.
Won’t you hurry?
Donations to Christmas Happiness can be mailed to the Salisbury Post, P.O. Box 4639, Salisbury, NC 28145-4639, or delivered to the Post at 131 W. Innes St.

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