A smattering of large donations has helped lead to another passed goal for the Salvation Army this Christmas season.
Monday totals show the charity is ahead of last year's numbers for both its kettle money and its annual Empty Stocking Fund to help families.
So far, $13,800 has been collected for the Empty Stocking, exceeding the $10,133.92 collected at the same time last year.
The amount of the Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign, totaled on Saturday, is $42,794.23. Maj. Jim Gallop of the Salvation Army said that is about $130 ahead of the total around the same time last season.
The Empty Stocking Fund helps more than 600 families throughout eastern New Mexico — 310 of them that have applied to the Salvation Army.
The circumstances are different for each family, from sickness to job loss to just simply a tough time making ends meet. A small sampling of stories from families in need have been featured daily in the Clovis News Journal and Portales News-Tribune since the Thanksgiving holiday.
Additionally, the fund goes toward helping out 300 senior citizens, many on fixed incomes.
Money from the fund is used to buy gifts for children and provide families with commodity baskets that include turkey or chicken and side items like stuffing and vegetables to make a Christmas meal.
Large donations were the key, said Lynn Berry, community relations manager for Clovis Media Inc., including a $5,000 donation and three $1,000 donations — one of which came from a BNSF employee, and will be matched by the company down the road. Counting the match, the large donations equaled $9,000, surpassing Gallop's fundraising goal for the Empty Stocking Fund.
In total, 32 different contributions have come in for the fund, including a collection jar from All Pets Animal Hospital that resulted in $175 in customer donations.
The kettle money helps to fund other Salvation Army programs throughout the year, including women's and family ministries. Berry credited a lack of inclement weather for the success of the kettles during the season, as residents were more likely to travel around town and weren't rushing in and out of stores.
Gallop said there are checks of lists between the Salvation Army and the Clovis Police Department's "Shop With a Cop" program to make sure families aren't double-dipping and taking a spot another family could use.
The Salvation Army accepts Empty Stocking Fund donations any time of the year, but largely sees donations during the Christmas season.
The Clovis News Journal and Portales News-Tribune, in partnership with the Salvation Army, sponsor the Empty Stocking Fund and will continue to accept donations until the end of the year and forward them to the Salvation Army.
The Portales news-Tribune accepts donations at the newspaper office at 101 E. First St. Donations may also be mailed to the PNT at P.O. Box 848, Portales, NM 88130. Envelopes should be clearly marked to indicate they contain a donation for the Empty Stocking Fund.