There's no better feeling than knowing something you do is able to alleviate the difficulties faced by someone in need. Which is why, every year, the Reformer Christmas Stocking is humbled and awed as the community steps up to donate to our annual campaign.

For 77 years, the Christmas Stocking has been helping families in Windham County and southwestern New Hampshire -- from homes with low incomes, or high medical bills, or families affected by fire or some other unforeseen disaster, or even loss of income due to layoffs -- receive warm winter clothing for their children to stay warm through the cold months ahead.

As it is every year, the need is great and always increasing.

And as it has been for the past several years, our goal was set at $90,000 last summer. As we have often said, given the state of the economy -- locally and nationally -- along with the various other well-deserving fundraising efforts in and around the area ... it's often with a mixture of relief and surprise when a new set of daily donations show up at the Reformer offices and we finally reach that goal. Let's just say, we would have been disappointed, but not surprised, if we weren't able to reach it.

But today, we don't have to worry about that -- this morning our fundraising effort's total stands at $90,730.91. As you do every year, so many of our readers -- from friends who have always helped us over the years to new donors who stepped up when we needed them most -- kept the spirit of the Reformer Christmas Stocking alive for another season, and we surpassed our 2013 goal Tuesday afternoon, one week into the new year.


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We needed every bit of help we could get this year; the need is always there, for folks who need a little extra, extremely important assistance for the winter months. This year, 1,330 children from more than 600 families qualified for coats, snow pants, boots, hats and mittens. The state of the local and national economy continues to put a strain on many of our friends and neighbors, which makes the Stocking more important than ever to local families in need.

It goes without saying, but we could not have reached our goal without the help of the Reformer's readers and friends. From the schoolchildren who turn in their pennies and nickels to the local businesses who give so generously each year, people of all ages and circumstances from around the region have demonstrated -- yet again -- that people here are always ready to help out those in need.

Since 1937, the Christmas Stocking has always been about neighbors helping neighbors. It is something we take great pride in here at the Reformer. The volunteers that run the Stocking put in a heroic effort each year, and their effort ensures that every dollar donated goes toward buying the winter clothing that is needed from year to year.

"For some people it's automatic this time of year. We have been getting checks from some families for a lot of years," said Pat Smith, the Reformer's news clerk, who has been counting the checks for the Reformer Christmas Stocking for more than 20 years. "It seems like it takes a little longer every year, but we always get there."

If you haven't done so yet, it's not too late to give to this year's campaign. Contributions, which are tax deductible, may be sent to: Reformer Christmas Stocking, P.O. Box 703, Brattleboro, VT 05302-0703. Donors may use their credit cards on PayPal for contributions by visiting www.reformer.com/christmasstocking. Type how you would like your donation to be listed in the Reformer in the "Purpose" line. Contributions may also be brought to the Reformer office at 62 Black Mountain Road on Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.

From everyone here at the Reformer, the members of the Christmas Stocking board, and from all the families you have helped with your generosity: A most sincere thank you.