In a time of acute need, donors to the Skagit Valley Herald Christmas Fund boosted its mission to help local families during the holidays.
Through Tuesday, donors gave $111,975.44 to the fund, which provides toys, books and grocery store gift cards to local families in need during the holidays.
The final total may end up being higher, as some late-arriving donations may not yet have been recorded. The total already surpasses those tallied in 2018 ($106,564) and 2019 ($92,143).
Christmas Fund Administrator Lynn Postler said she was thrilled donors were so generous in a time that's especially challenging because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
She said it's even more impressive considering much of the total came from individual donors. The only grant was $5,000 from the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community.
"I'm amazed what the community has done for the Christmas Fund. ... We haven't got this much money in years," Postler said.
The fund had 601 donors, including Mount Vernon Christian School, which raised more than $2,000 in a coin drive.
Postler said she heard of a young boy who used his allowance money to buy a toy to donate.
"I can't say thank you enough. People stepped up and we appreciate it," Postler said.
The blizzard of donations came during a challenging time for the fund and its recipients. The fund had to change everything from how families signed up to how it gave out gift bags during the time leading up to Christmas.
Postler said it was only possible due to a dedicated team of volunteers.
"Basically 10 volunteers did the majority of the work. More showed up for the distribution, but other than that 10 people did everything to be done. That's amazing," she said. "These are volunteers, unpaid, working in a cold warehouse."
The end result was the fund helped 1,867 families that included 5,191 children. That's more than last year's total of 1,658 families and 4,708 children.
"We got a couple hundred more families signed up this year, which was expected with the pandemic," Postler said.
While Postler said she doesn't know what the level of need will be next year, she said donors' generosity has the fund well prepared as 2021 gets underway and the planning for the 2021 holiday season takes shape.
"It puts us in a comfortable position for next year. Obviously when donations soar it's like ... 'Wow, we've got money in the bank now. We can get going.'"