Annual fund-raising drive kicks off this week

The Potomac News, Manassas Journal Messenger and the Salvation Army have teamed up for the annual Christmas Basket fund-raising drive, which officially begins on Thanksgiving.

The money raised goes toward helping underprivileged Prince William County families pay for utilities, food and toys during the holiday season.

The newspapers’ publisher, Mark Laskow-ski, set the Christmas Bas-ket’s goal this year at $45,000.

The money must be used to further the causes for which it was raised, said Capt. James Chadwick of the Salvation Army.

Donations may be made by individuals and groups, as a tribute to or in the memory of a loved one or anonymously. The names of those donating will be published in front page stories which will run Monday through Friday in the Potomac News and the Manassas Journal Messenger.

“The money will be going towards helping people with assistance for utilities including the lights, water, food and also at Christmas time, helping children with clothing and toys,” Chadwick said.

“[Prince William is] growing every year and we’re being hit with more and more folks losing their jobs and employment. They’ve been coming to us a lot with electric bills, gas bills, which is the primary heat for their homes.”

Chadwick said the Salvation Army is expanding its scope as well.

“We’re doing a little bit more for our food pantry also,” he said.

Organizers want the people of Prince William to donate because they want to, not because they feel they have to, Chadwick said.

Chadwick asks “for folks to donate generously, but out of their own hearts knowing that their neighbor could secretly be in a hardship. A lot of families’ lives are being distraught right now with the economics in the Prince WiIliam area.”

The funds are disbursed based on a system of guidelines set up by the Salvation Army’s national headquarters in Washington, D.C. When people in need of help approach the organization, a social service worker evaluates the request using those guidelines.

Donations can be brought to the Potomac News office, 14010 Smoketown Road, Woodbridge or to the Manassas Journal Messenger office, 9009 Church Street, Manassas.

Those wishing to mail their contributions should send them to P.O. Box 2470, Woodbridge, VA 22195 or to the Salvation Army, P.O. Box 298, Dumfries, VA 22026. The Salvation Army’s office is 17688 Possum Point Road, Dumfries. Donations can also be phoned in to the Salvation Army at (703) 221-2267.

Staff writer Daniel Drew can be reached at (703) 878-8065.

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