Fayette County

Last-minute giving boosts Lexington charities toward Christmas goals

Last-minute giving has boosted two high-profile charities in Lexington toward their goals for Christmas programs.

About 15,000 children will have gifts to open Christmas Day thanks to the Faith and Community Christmas Store — a program that gives free, gently used gifts to needy families. The Salvation Army saw similar success with its Angel Tree program this year.

While the Salvation Army still was tens of thousands of dollars short of the goal for its Red Kettle campaign, more than $75,000 in donations in less than a week helped close the gap.

"We have a very compassionate community," said Ginny Ramsey of the Catholic Action Center, which manages the annual Christmas Store. "It continually amazes me."

Two days before the Christmas Store opened last week, the program didn't have nearly enough donations or volunteers to help an expected 3,200 needy families, Ramsey said.

The store was open Wednesday through Friday. During that time, an increase in donations resulted in more than enough gifts to go around.

Final numbers won't be available until after Christmas, but Ramsey estimated 2,000 volunteers and countless donors helped 4,000 families find gifts for more than 15,000 children.

Many donations and volunteers came from local families and organizations, but some help came from all over the state. A notable example, Ramsey said, was a couple from West Liberty who persuaded their grandchildren to donate some of their many toys.

"They drove 90 miles to give them to us," she said.

This year, the Salvation Army provided gifts for about 6,000 Fayette County children during its Angel Tree program, in which people pick up a card bearing the name, age, and wish list of a disadvantaged child.

Just two days before the deadline, Dec. 12, almost 1,000 names had not been selected. But those children were provided for through last-minute gifts and monetary donations, said Maj. Debra Ashcraft, an area coordinator for the group.

The Christmastime Red Kettle campaign, which helps fund Salvation Army programs for the entire year, had not seen as much success. The program was about $92,000 short of its goal of $450,000 at last count Thursday.

However, on Dec. 17, the program was short about $170,000, meaning $78,000 had been given in about five days.

"We've made some headway," Ashcraft said.

She said bell-ringers went to every shopping center where they were permitted on Friday and Saturday — the last days of the kettle campaign — to try to close the gap. The final numbers won't be known until after Christmas.

Lexington residents may donate online until Dec. 31 at Onlineredkettle.org/trueblue.

"I don't know of any big, secret donations coming in," Ashcraft said. "But we always have hope. We have a lot of faith in God and we have a lot of faith in people."

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