Brighter Christmas Fund kicks off 38th year

This year’s Brighter Christmas Fund board of directors includes, from left, Jim Normandin, Tracy Berrigan, Tim Kagan, Tony Mohan and Mike Wheatley.

EASTON — APG Chesapeake and The Star Democrat’s Brighter Christmas Fund kicked off its 38th year Monday, Oct. 18, when applications open for families in need.

The fund’s board of directors and partner agencies invite Mid-Shore residents to share in the joy of giving to help their neighbors during the holiday season.

Beginning Thanksgiving week and continuing through the end of the year, The Star Democrat and its affiliated newspapers including the Kent County News will publish stories about families in Talbot, Caroline, Dorchester, Queen Anne’s and Kent counties who are struggling to provide a Christmas for their children.

The names and some details concerning those featured in the stories will be changed to mask their identity.

Those stories are the only way The Star Democrat solicits donations for the Brighter Christmas Fund.

In 2020, the Brighter Christmas Fund raised more than $106,000, thanks to the generosity of Mid-Shore readers. Those donations allowed the fund to help 1,306 children have a brighter holiday.

It was the 17th year in a row the Brighter Christmas Fund raised more than $100,000 — even amid a worldwide pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic created a greater need for donations, according to APG Chesapeake CEO Jim Normandin, and the pandemic is continuing.

Directors remain the same this year: Normandin, Tracy Berrigan, Tim Kagan, Tony Mohan and Mike Wheatley.

The board met in August to review last year’s campaign and decide what, if any, changes were needed for this year.

“The Board of Directors extended the number of years in a row an applicant can receive money from BCF to five. And this year, 2021, will be Year One for everyone for this new five-year rule,” said Kathy Herron, Brighter Christmas Fund coordinator for APG.

Also, for the upcoming season, the Brighter Christmas Fund board of directors has increased the amount to be awarded per child from $75 to $100, Herron said.

Normandin praised the directors’ dedication to making the initiative a success.

“I couldn’t be more proud of how they have stepped up and engaged in our efforts. I’m so proud of each one of them,” he said.

The Star Democrat donates all of the fund’s administrative and operating costs.

“There are zero administrative costs associated with running the Brighter Christmas Fund. Any costs that are incurred are paid for by APG Chesapeake,” Normandin said. “So 100% of the donations make their way to the children and families in need during Christmas time.”

After parents and guardians apply for the Brighter Christmas Fund, their applications are vetted by the pertinent counties’ social services agencies. Award letters will be mailed Nov. 29.

Recipients have until midnight Friday, Dec. 24, to redeem their award letter.

The Brighter Christmas Fund is a 501(c)(3) charity, and tax-deductible donations may be sent to The Brighter Christmas Fund, c/o The Star Democrat, P.O. Box 600, Easton, MD 21601. Donations also may be made online via credit card or Paypal at www.brighter Click the “Donate” button.

For more information about the Brighter Christmas Fund, call 410-200-1884.

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