HAMMOND | The final tally for the Good Neighbor Christmas Cheer Fund is coming in around $27,480, but more donations may trickle in, according to fund organizers.
“We are really obviously pleased we went over the top because it's going to help out a lot more families,” said John Gescheidler, who organizes the fund with his son.
The fund celebrated its 80th year and supports grocery vouchers that are distributed by The Salvation Army Hammond/Munster Corps. This year the goal was to raise $25,000 to help local needy people afford Christmas dinner.
The Times supports the Cheer Fund by running coupons for people to fill out and return with donations throughout the holiday season.
“Given the economic conditions and the fact we were about to go off the fiscal cliff,” Gescheidler said, “I was very pleased because regardless of the economic conditions we have going on right now, people were still obviously generous enough to make the goal and help out their neighbors.”
This year's fund was highlighted by a $5,000 check from an anonymous donor, Grandpa Claus of North Hammond. The fund also received contributions from the Ted E. Bear Family and family pet Dusty III.
The fund also collected donations online through PayPal for the first time this year. Those contributions surpassed $1,700.
The Cheer Fund began in the 1930s when a Hammond contractor gave $500 to the city police chief to distribute to residents.