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Two hundred and eighty-five dollars may not seem like much, but put it in perspective:

It's money that can buy 20 fleece blankets, 10 Christmas hams or help three families with household needs or groceries.

That's how The Pantagraph Goodfellow Fund looks at each dollar donated to its annual Christmas campaign. This year, 601 donors shared $48,798.67 in donations, which allowed the Fund to touch 1,627 lives in Central Illinois.

The fund, which just completed its 87th year, is a nonprofit organization run by Pantagraph employees who volunteer their time and talents to help seniors and deserving families.

And that $285? That's how much this year's donations exceeded those made in 2013.

This year, those recipients included residents at 17 area nursing homes; 70 Twin City families; 26 residents of Mayor's Manor, a Bloomington transitional facility for the formerly homeless; 19 seniors who receive Peace Meals; and 60 children at the Bloomington-Normal Boys and Girls Club.

Also on the list were the Bloomington and Normal fire departments; people living at The Salvation Army Safe Harbor on Christmas Eve; 50 senior and disabled residents of Orlando Terrace in Normal; and 60 people who use the clothing pantry of St. Vincent de Paul Society.

And, thanks to all those generous donors, the Fund was able to serve 23 families on a waiting list.

Some of Goodfellow's donors gave money in lieu of Christmas cards; others in memory or honor of loved ones, co-workers, pets, soldiers or emergency workers. Others donate every year in memory of a loved one who once received help from the Fund.

Pantagraph employees in every department often come across a family or person in need, but they are not trained social workers. Names of people who could use help are provided by local agencies: Heartland Head Start; Livingston County Housing Authority offices in Pontiac and Chatsworth; Mid Central Community Action; PATH; Peace Meal; St. Mary’s Church; and The Salvation Army.

Goodfellow grew out of the generosity of a reporter's heart in the late 1920s (he delivered firewood to a poor family on Christmas Eve). Its organizers and volunteers keep that spirit alive by using donated money to buy locally- purchased gifts delivered by Pantagraph employees.

As it enters its 88th year, the Fund will continue that circle of giving that remains as strong as when the program began.

On behalf of the Fund, its recipients and partners, we offer our heartfelt thanks.

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