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Christmas campaign donors generous — and recipients needy

Comox Valley residents gave more – and needed more – during this past holiday season.

The Salvation Army's two Christmas fundraising programs brought in more money than expected, according to community ministries director Brent Hobden.

"This (year) was substaintially better than last year," said Hobden. "It was very exciting. We were so happy to hear that."

Hodben said the local Kettle Campaign goal was $100,000, but over $117,000 came in. Nationally, the Salvation Army exceeded its goal $19 million, by raising $20 million.

Also, its annual mail out campaign brought in $157,000 locally when the goal was $150,000.

Requests for Christmas Hampers were down in the Valley, with 655 hampers handed out – about 100 less than in 2010. Hobden said this is a good thing.

"If we're down in numbers for Christmas Hampers, that means fewer families or less individuals in the Valley are needing a Christmas Hamper so we're quite encouraged by that," said Hobden.

However, numbers for First Insurance's Secret Santa program were up, meaning more needy children were signed up for the gift program.

"It was our biggest year ever," said organizer Pamela Jolin. "We had 887 children between here and Campbell River. That's over 100 more than we've ever had before."

Jolin said the large response could be due to the program gaining popularity in its 11th year, but added that it could be people needed more help, too.

"I think part of it is people are much more in need this year," said Jolin. "It's been a tough year."

Because so many presents were given out, the program will be done separately between the Comox Valley and Campbell River next year. First Insurance will also extend the program to Powell River as it has an office there, making three separate Secret Santa programs for Christmas 2012.

You Are Not Alone (YANA) crafted about 5,000 Christmas Crackers in October and sold out within a few weeks, close to two weeks faster than usual.

Santa's Workshop gave toys out to 699 kids, including two tricycles for special needs children, and 225 bicycles, according to organizer Barb Metheral.

The Comox Valley Food Bank handed out close to 1000 bags of food during December, which was a "slight increase" from December 2010, according to president Jeff Hampton.

He said December donations were on par with 2010, but while donations typically taper off in the New Year, they have remained steady this year.

"I think that awareness is there now," said Hampton.

writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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