SUNBURY — The 2019 Needy Family Fund kicks off Thursday with a goal of raising $100,000 to help Valley residents in need this holiday season.
Since 1987, the Salvation Army's Needy Family Fund, sponsored by The Daily Item, Sunbury Broadcasting Corp. and Mifflinburg Bank & Trust, has raised more than $2.9 million during the holidays to assist the Valley’s less fortunate. It is administered by Salvation Army citadels in Milton and Sunbury.
To celebrate the Degenstein Foundations' involvement over the last 20 years, the 1994 Charles B. Degenstein Foundation has pledged to match the first $50,000 raised. The Degenstein Foundations have donated nearly $475,000 since 1999 when it joined the annual campaign. Last year, the foundations donated $45,000: $5,000 from the Charles B. Degenstein Foundation, $10,000 from the Charles and Betty Degenstein Foundation and $30,000 from the 1994 Charles B. Degenstein Foundation.
"The fact that other organizations outside the Salvation Army are willing to get together and help families and individuals in need speaks volumes about the community," said Joel Harris, the Salvation Army's community coordinator for the Sunbury and Milton offices. "At the end of the day when we put in the hard work, we see how the community comes together as a whole. It's not common in this day of age that such a huge volume of people come together to help the community."
The Needy Family Fund is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Salvation Army. Last year, the fund raised $116,774. The biggest year was 2013 with $145,128.
"This is so wonderful and unlike what you see in other locations," said Captain Jessica Duperree, of Sunbury's Salvation Army. "Their (those who are helped) stories matter and are being shared with people who hear them and meet their needs."
Lt. Jared Starnes, who came to the Milton Salvation Army with wife Kirsten Starnes earlier this year from southern Ohio, said he is excited to be a part of the fundraiser for the first time.
"It's a great partnership with everyone involved," he said.
The Daily Item's Editor Dennis Lyons and Publisher Fred Scheller said they are also looking forward to the 2019 fundraising season.
“This annual drive has long been a terrific way for us all to reach out and be there for our neighbors,” said Lyons. “The people of the Susquehanna Valley have always been ready to step up for those in the community who need some help. Their generosity is part of what makes this such a special place to live.”
"The Needy Family fund has a long tradition of helping people during difficult times," said Scheller. "The Daily Item is a proud sponsor, however, it is the kindness of the people in the community that make it a success."
Sunbury Broadcasting Corp. President/CEO Roger S. Haddon said the thoughts of trees, decorations, presents, parties and family gatherings are often on the mind for many people during the holiday season.
"That’s not the case for everyone, though. For some, a meaningful gift would be the ability to pay bills, enjoy a meal or simply be warm. And that is where The Needy Family Fund comes in," he said. "The Salvation Army is there for those in need, not just at Christmas, but all year long. Along with our partners, The Daily Item and Mifflinburg Bank and Trust, Sunbury Broadcasting Corporation is proud to be part of this community effort that brings together the true holiday spirit of neighbor helping neighbor. I hope we think of jobs lost in 2019 and those who are struggling through no fault of their own."
This year, the Salvation Army is working with Mifflinburg Bank & Trust to collect the funds.
“Mifflinburg Bank & Trust is grateful for the opportunity to serve our community as a partner in the Needy Family Fund Campaign," said President/CEO Jeffrey J. Kapsar. "This program represents what Mifflinburg Bank stands for, helping our neighbors in every way possible. Community support is one of the reasons we choose to remain a local community bank and we look forward to assisting in the efforts to help our local families."
Donors can make checks payable to The Needy Family Fund and mail or drop them off to any location of program co-sponsor Mifflinburg Bank & Trust. Donors can also visit any deposited donation, mail a check to 250 E. Chestnut St., Mifflinburg, Pa., 17844, or donate online at https://www.mbtc.com. The Needy Family Fund link will go live on Nov. 29.
Distribution days are scheduled for Dec. 18 at the Sunbury Plaza, 1171 N. Fourth St., Sunbury, and Dec. 19 at the Salvation Army headquarters at 30 Center St., Milton.
Robert Beiter, owner of Beiter’s Furniture store and the plaza in Sunbury, donated the space at no charge.