Editorial: Christmas Happiness generosity in hard times

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 21, 2011

Back in 1952, Post Editor Spencer Murphy started a tradition that has helped thousands of Rowan County children. He started the Christmas Happiness Fund.
It fit his profile. Murphyís office was often a haven for people needing a kind word, a cup of hot coffee or a few dollars to tide them over. ěSix feet and one inch tall, Murphy is 200 pounds of abject sympathy for the human race,î a reporter once wrote.
That compassion and desire to help prompted him to pen an editorial, headlined ěHelp!î As the Post kicks off the Christmas Happiness Fund each year, we reprint part of his heartfelt plea:
ěMrs. 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 wonít be much different from any other day, unless miracles happen.
ěIn 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.
ěThe Post canít think of any happier pursuit as Christmas nears than helping make a lot of miracles.
ěSo 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.
ěTime is short. If you would like to help make a miracle, wonít you hurry?î
Salisbury Post readers have responded year after year with amazing generosity, even during the recession. While that first drive raised $1,801 ó $3 per child ó last year Christmas Happiness raised a record $79,618. The Department of Social Services was able to give vouchers to 3,049 children representing 1,306 families, agency director Sandra Wilkes reported at the end of the drive. ěAs staff handed out the vouchers, parents described how difficult it is for them to maintain a home and put food on the table. Without Christmas Happiness, there would be no gifts for many of these children.î
The Post collects readersí Christmas Happiness donations and turns them over directly to the Department of Social Services. None of the money goes toward administration. Instead, the funds are distributed in $25 vouchers ó one for each child in qualifying families, with a maximum of $100 per family. Thatís a generous amount to those struggling to get by, and this county has many such people. According to the Census, some 21 percent of Rowanís men, women and children are living below the poverty level.
So please help again this year. Your gift could bring joy to a child.
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.