This is a merrier Christmas than last year for Augusta-area charities tallying holiday season donations.
"The giving has been very good," said Willis Howell, a captain with the Salvation Army.
The Salvation Army expects between $70,000 to $75,000 from its traditional kettle campaign at Christmas, Capt. Howell said Tuesday. If that estimate rings true, they'll have collected between $8,000 and $13,000 more in donations than in 1995.
Still, the Salvation Army had hoped to pull $90,000 out of its legions of red pots. The organization does not expect to reach that goal.
"But I certainly have to offer a huge word of thanks to the community because they've done far better than last year," Capt. Howell said. "The community has really poured out the support."
Golden Harvest Food Bank's Mike Firmin also thanks Augustans for donating 20,000 pounds of food this season, particularly since their busiest months are January-March.
"Our hearts are just overflowing because of the generosity of the community," said Mr. Firmin, executive director. "Out of 365 days (next year), we have 355 covered. I think that's awesome."
Other charities and service organizations were beginning to tally their donations or were closed for the holidays on Tuesday.
At the American Red Cross chapter in Augusta, for example, workers won't know how much people have given for another week or so, when they close the books at the end of the month, said Carolyn Maund.
"A lot of times people wait until really the last minute to give their contribution," Ms. Maund said. "As far as I can tell.°.°.°people have been generous again."
The Red Cross' goal for November-December campaigns is about $15,000, Ms. Maund said. Last year, the organization collected $16,500 from July through December.
Other groups are thanking Augustans for their help with different types of holiday drives, such as the Aiken County United Way's Christmas party for foster children.
Several Aiken County restaurants donated 40 large pizzas to feed about 120 foster children and several schools helped, too, said Michael Williamson, marketing and resource development for the Aiken County United Way.
"So it's really not about money," he said. "It was more about having a party and pulling together gifts and have the children's pictures taken."