Christmas Happiness begins taking donations

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 19, 2011

By Shavonne Potts
SALISBURY ó Christmas Happiness is off to a solid start with some early contributions.
The Christmas Happiness campaign helps Rowan County families in need buy gifts for their children.
The program is sponsored by the Salisbury Post, which collects contributions. The Rowan County Department of Social Services distributes the funds.
In 1952, then Post editor Spencer Murphy asked the community to help children have a better Christmas and so began a nearly 60-year tradition.
Contributions come from far and near from individuals, churches, schools, businesses and everyone in between.
There are 11,963 households in Rowan County that receive services from the Foods and Nutrition Services Program, formerly Food Stamps.
Of the more than 11,000 households there are slightly more than 3,800 households whose income is less than $500 a month, said Pat Spears, income maintenance administrator with Rowan DSS.
The campaign begins Monday.
Spears said social services staff took 363 applications and approved 540 children for the program Saturday, the first day the department accepted applications at its office.
Applications also will be taken from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 10 and Dec. 17. None will be taken during the regular work week or accepted by mail.
Applicants must apply in person at 1813 E. Innes St. Applications will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis. Vouchers are issued to eligible families based on the funding available for Christmas Happiness.
That first year, the community raised $1,801 and throughout the years the need has increased.
Last yearís contributions brought in the largest amount and served the largest number of children since the fund began nearly 60 years ago.
The community raised $79,618.05 and helped 3,049 children who represented 1,306 families.
The 2010 fund began with $1,000 from the previous year. In 2009, the community gave $62,406.97, which helped 2,857 children.
Social Services will start this yearís Christmas Happiness fund with $16,000. Some of the start money ó $12,000 ó came from donations received after the Dec. 23 cutoff for last year.
The remaining start money, about $4,000, is from vouchers that were issued but not used and from clients whose purchases totaled less than the amount authorized on the Christmas Happiness voucher.
Clients cannot receive cash back from their purchase.
Bring contributions to the Salisbury Post, 131 W. Innes St., between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays or mail them to The Salisbury Post, Christmas Happiness Fund, P.O. Box 4639, Salisbury, NC 28145-4639.
Make checks payable to the Christmas Happiness Fund and indicate how you wish your donation listed.
The contributions so far:
Salisbury Post……………$1,000
Fred and Alice Stanback…$1,000
AKZO Nobel Surface……….$750
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.