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Triangle Agencies Enjoying Increase in Holiday Giving

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RALEIGH — Charities across the country say a volatile stock market and uncertainty over thepresidential electionare hurting donations. That is not the case in the Triangle where local agencies are enjoying an increase in holiday giving.

Triangle residents are giving generously this holiday season. Since Thanksgiving, shoppers have dropped $37,000 into theSalvation Army'sred kettles.

"We set the goal and the public has come through in an astounding way. We're ahead of last year's kettle program by $4,000. If we keep that up, it'll be a record year for us," says Ashley Delamar of the Salvation Army.

The money donated to the Salvation Army helps the agency buy toys to donate to local children. The program has been so successful this year, the Salvation Army will help an extra 275 families in Wake County this holiday season.

Volunteers are already busy unloading and sorting the toys they will donate to 2,000 local families. This time last year, the Salvation Army could not afford to spread quite as much holiday cheer.

"It was an unusually warm winter season. People had just given everything they had to theHurricane Floydrelief," says Delamar.

Raleigh's Helping Hand Mission also felt the squeeze after Hurricane Floyd. Donations have picked up, but Mother Nature has created a new need.

"We started earlier. We had our first snow and we started getting a lot of people asking for clothing and blankets earlier. So now we need more items because the need is great here," says director Sylvia Wiggins.

Triangle residents responded to the need during WRAL'sCoats For the Childrentelethon. More than $120,000 was donated -- a $30,000 increase over 1999.

The money raised will buy new, warm clothing for needy children in the Triangle. Coats and winter accessories are being collected through December 31 at Jiffy Lube and Alltel locations. Those donations will go a long way toward keeping families warm this winter.

The TriangleUnited Wayis also reporting a successful fundraising year. So far it has brought in just over $26 million, compared to $25 million last year.