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As the Ward Faulkenberry Memorial Christmas Basket fund entered its fifth week, the total amount collected for local families has reached almost $16,000.
The fund has collected $356 since Dec. 23, bringing the total amount collected to $15,751, which easily surpasses last year’s total of $9,250.
Elaine Adkins, executive director of HOPE, which is spearheading the charity drive for the first time this year, said the response has been impressive. She expects the final tally will exceed $16,000.
“I am so proud of Lancaster and its people for sharing the way they have this Christmas,” she said. “With the economy we have in Lancaster, people were very generous in helping families in need this Christmas.”
HOPE, which stands for Helping Other People Effectively, took on the fund in early December after learning that the local office of the American Red Cross, which organized the fund for the past five years, could no longer head up the drive.
Adkins said many people and businesses she spoke to decided to forgo giving or receiving gifts this year, instead donating money to the fund and other charities.
“Our community gave in so many different ways, helping to make sure the Angel Tree was a success, giving to us at HOPE, donating to the Christmas Basket Fund in a wonderful way and adopting families to help one on one,” she said. “Yes, we have a community to be very proud of.”
The Angel Tree supplied gifts to children and teens over the holidays. This drive is headed up by Christian Services.
The Christmas Basket Fund was founded 49 years ago by the late Ward Faulkenberry, a former athletics officer and commander of American Legion Post No. 31.
The Christmas Basket provides grocery store gift cards for local families during the holidays.
The group distributes the gift cards to the Department of Social Services, the Lancaster County Council on Aging and Christian Services. HOPE divides the donations among the groups based on the amounts each organization received last year, with remaining funds divided according to need.
HOPE has enough money for at least one more round of gift cards and will distribute those in January.
HOPE will continue to accept Christmas Basket donations for as long as people send them in.
Adkins said there will be a great need for the gift cards in January, and her organization will try and help as many families as it can.
“We’re really appreciative of what people have done in the community,” Adkins said. “I’m proud of how the community has pulled together to help so many people this year.”
To donate to the fund, make checks out to Christmas Basket Fund and send to P.O. Box 166 Lancaster, SC 29721, or drop monetary donations off at The Lancaster News office, 701 N. White St.
For details, call HOPE at 286-4673.
The donors Dec. 23 through Tuesday are:
Mary and W.A. Westmoreland, $30; Martha and Art Swain, $25; Carolyn and Lewis Surls in Memory of Mrs. Virginia Wade and Mr. and Mrs. Fred Vaughn, $50; Ann Ferguson, $25; Frank Ferguson, in honor of Colen and William Gray, $25; Donald and Rita Easler, in memory of Vick Helms Sr., Debbie Helms and Kenneth Helms Sr., $25; Lancaster County Schools research and development, $126; Amelia Gardner, in memory of Bruce B. Gardner $50.
Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (803) 416-8416