Making Christmas brighter
The Star Democrat‘s Brighter Christmas Fund this week kicks 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. Throughout the holidays, we will publish stories describing the circumstances of a child or a family in need on the Mid Shore.
“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 Record Observer and president of APG Media of Chesapeake LLC, the newspaper’s parent company. The company 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).