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In a year marred by the pandemic and derecho, many local charitable organizations were worried. Worried about their ability to meet the increasing demand for assistance, and worried about the widespread challenges in the community making it difficult for almost anyone to lend a helping hand when so many could use one themselves--and in the case of one particular group, especially during Christmas.

People like Willie Fairley, who fed those in need thousands of free meals after the August 10 storm, and who is now taking his business, Willie Ray's Q Shack on the road to do the same for winter storm-ravaged Texas, are examples of the fabric of this community. A community who, according to the Salvation Army, despite almost everyone dealing with widespread struggles, reached out to help each other in massive numbers.

CBS2 says the Salvation Army's holiday fundraising campaign surpassed their goal by $250,000. They had half a million dollars of their own damage to their C Avenue headquarters from the derecho and fewer volunteers willing or able to be bell-ringers during their annual Red Kettle Campaign, but with a goal of $700,000, they still topped that easily, with just over $993k.

Mail-in, walk-in, and online donations made up of the bulk of how donations were raised, with red kettle contributions still part of the mix.

Not only that, services were provided in record numbers in a multitude of other ways, like the Toys for Tots campaign, which helped 3,000 area kids have a Merry Christmas with a total of 35,000 gifts distributed. Holiday food assistance was provided to 1,700 families with the assistance of 10,000 or so volunteers.

Captain Shawn DeBaar said:

The Cedar Rapids community has once again shown their love and support for those in need in our community. We will not only be able to serve our neighbors in need in all the ways we normally do, but the increase in Christmas income will mean more families in need will be served

Talk about a community coming through for each other when it's needed most.

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