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This is the giving season, and Metro Detroit charities report that holiday fundraising campaigns are going well, as the economy rebounds and people have more to give. But as always, the need is great, and fundraising never fully matches the need for help.

One of the most popular and visible charity campaigns this time of year is the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Drive. So far, only about half of the $9 million goal has been reached, though Major Mark Anderson, Detroit area commander of Salvation Army Eastern Michigan Division, is optimistic the figure will be met.

The popular Kettle Drive represents about 10 percent of the division’s $101 million budget for the year, which includes operations at its adult rehabilitation centers and thrift stores.

The local division touches the lives of about three million people during the holiday season through toys, food baskets and housing, among other services, Anderson says. Annually, there are five to seven million “people contacts,” he says, noting many individuals return throughout the year for help.

Meals during the holidays take on more significance and one of the best known agencies for providing them is the Capuchin Soup Kitchen.

Jerry Smith, executive director, says the Detroit-based agency has an annual budget of $9.3 million and he, too, is encouraged by the current level of donations.

“Two weeks before Thanksgiving to the end of December is our biggest fundraising time of the year,” Smith says. “We are just extremely gratified by how generously people are sharing with us their resources.”

Food is a major part of the kitchen’s work. About 500,000 meals are served a year. But also, Smith notes, the kitchen helps 125 people a day through various human development programs dealing with, among other things, substance abuse and adult literacy.

For Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan, food is its primary product and officials say contributions are strong.

Anne Schenk, vice president of advancement, says the agency’s annual budget is $11 million and almost half, about $5 million, is expected to be raised from October through December.

“So far, so good,” she says.

Gleaners’ numbers are impressive. It distributes about 100,000 meals a day, year-round, and services about 550 partner agencies, from soup kitchens and food pantries to homeless shelters.

Donations are also up for Mother Waddles Car Donation Program. Last year the agency took in 2,500 vehicles. Contributions this year are expected to hit 4,000, notes Director Rick Frazier.

Frazier says donations usually are greatest in December, as donors rush to beat the tax deduction deadline.

Although a tax credit is nice, the main reward for giving is the satisfaction of knowing people are getting needed help.

Metro Detroiters are proving once again that this is one of the most generous communities in the country. Our economic hard times have eased considerably since the dark days of the Great Recession. And as their personal conditions improve, residents here are sharing their good fortune.

There’s no better way to say Merry Christmas.

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