By Gari Voss
Beginning in November, a Wilcox Newspapers headline read, “Do you need help? Write us!” By the middle of December, the mailbox had received nearly 150 requests.
A query to Editor Mike Wilcox found that the newspapers’ tradition of assisting people in need during the holidays began a dozen years ago with the Clare County Review (Michigan). Since that time, the solicitation for letters has been promoted by each of the other Wilcox papers.
Wilcox stressed, “Please realize it takes a major effort for many of these people to sit down and write a letter telling others about their difficulties, but 150 people did this.”
The key to meeting those wishes is dependent on the generosity of individuals and businesses throughout the communities.
“Newspapers traditionally ask businesses to buy Christmas greeting ads during the holiday season. That type of advertising, although nice, really doesn’t bring customers into stores. As an alternative I decided to initiate the Christmas Wish program so that a portion of their holiday advertising would go to help needy families in the area,” explained Wilcox.
Through advertisement purchases, the pool of funds is established, but that pool grows stronger because of individuals providing additional assistance.
“One person annually donates $2000 while others contribute $1000 or $500. The generosity of some is outstanding. The newspapers make up the difference, as much as we can, if we feel families are shortchanged,” Wilcox added.
Each year, time is taken to verify the legitimacy of letters. Once the legitimate requests are identified, the task begins in prioritizing the needs. Considering that the desire is to support all requests, the reality is that the funds run out before all requests are met.
The desire was to meet the items outlined in each letter. This year, the goal was to support at least 100 legitimate requests of local families.
Thanks to the generosity of many, about 90% of the wishes were met. Wilcox was hoping for 100%, and felt that they had a “shortfall”. But even though several appeals were not met, over 100 families received assistance that they very desperately needed.
A heartfelt thank you goes out to all participating individuals and businesses in each community served by the Wilcox newspapers. You have brightened the lives of many in need.