Mak­ing Christ­mas brighter for kids

Dorchester Star - - Regional -

The Star Demo­crat‘s Brighter Christ­mas Fund kicked off its 33rd sea­son of “pro­vid­ing chil­dren with a brighter Christ­mas.”

The Brighter Christ­mas Fund started in 1983 to try to help fam­i­lies who didn’t have enough money to have a good Christ­mas. The fund helps pro­vide toys and cloth­ing un­der the Christ­mas tree for lo­cal chil­dren.

The sto­ries of need abound. Each day through­out the hol­i­days, we will pub­lish a stor y de­scrib­ing the cir­cum­stance of a child or a fam­ily in need on the Mid-Shore. Their names will be changed to pro­tect their iden­ti­ties and to pre­serve their dig­nity. Sto­ries will be pub­lished in The Star Demo­crat and on­line, as well as in our af­fil­i­ated weekly pa­pers. The sto­ries will in­clude a list of donors who contributed to the suc­cess of this year’s fundrais­ing.

“Most of the fam­i­lies we as­sist re­ally wouldn’t have any­thing un­der the tree,” said Gwen Fike, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the Brighter Christ­mas Fund. “This is how their par­ents or grand­par­ents are pro­vid­ing Christ­mas, and with­out Brighter Christ­mas, those fam­i­lies wouldn’t see that.”

Gen­er­ous read­ers and lo­cal res­i­dents have do­nated about $2.8 mil­lion to the fund since its in­cep­tion, help­ing chil­dren and fam­i­lies in the five coun­ties — Tal­bot, Caro­line, Queen Anne’s, Dorch­ester and Kent — served by the news­pa­per.

In 2015, the Brighter Christ­mas Fund raised $145,000 — by far the most raised in a sin­gle year — to help 800 fam­i­lies with 1,800 chil­dren have a bet­ter Christ­mas. It was also the 12th con­sec­u­tive year the fund has raised more than $100,000.

The Brighter Christ­mas Fund’s suc­cess hasn’t been driven much by large do­na­tions ei­ther. A vast ma­jor­ity of the do­na­tions are made $30 to $40 at a time by gen­er­ous lo­cal read­ers and Mid-Shore res­i­dents.

“It still does sur­prise me when kids in our com­mu­nity go home hun­gry and don’t eat un­til the next day they come to school, how many don’t have funds for the ba­sic ne­ces­si­ties of life, let alone have a nice Christ­mas and nice gifts,” said David Fike, pres­i­dent of the fund’s board of di­rec­tors.

Fike is pub­lisher of The Star Demo­crat and pres­i­dent of APG Me­dia of Ch­e­sa­peake LLC, the news­pa­per’s par­ent com­pany. The Star Demo­crat cov­ers the char­ity’s ad­min­is­tra­tive costs so that 100 per­cent of the funds raised go to help those in need at Christ­mas.

“The re­sult of that is every dol­lar that comes in the door goes right back out the door,” David Fike said. “That’s an un­usual fund. You don’t see many of those in today’s so­ci­ety.”

“I am amazed every year by the gen­eros­ity of our com­mu­nity and the amount of do­na­tions we re­ceive to the Brighter Christ­mas Fund,” he said. “The com­mu­nity’s trust in us to man­age this fund and help the needy is gen­uinely in­spir­ing.”

Your do­na­tions to the Brighter Christ­mas Fund have changed many, many lives year af­ter year. You have brought joy to the hearts of count­less chil­dren and helped oth­ers in need.

As this hol­i­day sea­son of gift giv­ing be­gins, please know that your do­na­tions to the Brighter Christ­mas Fund mean a lot to the peo­ple who are the ben­e­fi­cia­ries of your gen­eros­ity. They ap­pre­ci­ate your sup­port and we ap­pre­ci­ate the op­por­tu­nity to once again be the conduit to bring­ing the spirit of the sea­son to oth­ers.

Those wish­ing to do­nate to the fund may send con­tri­bu­tions to The Brighter Christ­mas Fund, c/o The Star Demo­crat, P.O. Box 600, 29088 Air­park Drive, Eas­ton, MD 21601. Do­na­tions also may be made on­line at www.brighter­christ­mas­fund.org (click the do­nate but­ton).

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