THE Yorkshire Post's Communities in Need appeal today smashes through the £100,000 barrier thanks to a massive donation from a local regeneration firm.
With two weeks still to go in the lead up to Christmas, charity bosses have spoken of their delight that donations and pledges to our appeal have now reached an impressive six-figure total, and are calling for a final push from readers, residents and local businesses to increase the final amount further over the next fortnight.
The appeal was launched last month in support of grassroots and community projects across the region, with donations to be channelled through the Yorkshire Community Foundations, a network of local charities which distributes grants to worthy causes around their local area.
Over the past six weeks, our campaign has highlighted shocking issues of deprivation in every part of the region – from elderly people in Leeds who rely on food parcels and lunch clubs to ward off malnutrition, to homeless people living on the streets of Rotherham and poverty in far-flung rural communities.
Every penny donated to our fighting fund will remain within Yorkshire, with cash distributions to local charities and community schemes to begin in the new year.
Prime Minister David Cameron has already backed the appeal and offered to match-fund donations 1 for 1 wherever possible through the Government's Grassroots Grants scheme.
Tonight, a grand event will be held at Halifax Minster in celebration of the Community Foundations, with a large crowd set to enjoy an evening of music, song and dance while raising thousands more pounds for the appeal.
So it seems somewhat fitting that the donation which today pushes the appeal total beyond 100,000 comes from Action Halifax, the West Yorkshire town's not-for-profit regeneration company, which has pledged a staggering 32,000.
Action Halifax chief executive John Shepherd said: "I think Communities in Need is a great appeal.
"From our point of view, community and voluntary organisations are going to find it a lot more difficult to get money to support activities over the next few years because of the economic situation. A lot of the organisations that normally give them funding, such as local authorities, will be short of money as well.
"The Community Foundations are experienced at giving out grants and we hope this donation will help where it is most needed."
Action Halifax has been supporting regeneration projects in the town for the past decade, but will cease to exist from the end of this year as its funding has now expired. The generous donation to the Communities in Need appeal will be its final act.
Chairman Roger Harvey said the organisation has always been keen to help groups to develop community-based work and build their sustainability.
"This was one of the key themes of our work," he said. "We are delighted that through the Community Foundation for Calderdale we can do something to encourage that work to continue."
Steve Duncan, chief executive of Calderdale Community Foundation, paid tribute to Mr Harvey and his work in the town.
"It never ceases to amaze me just how generous the people of Calderdale are," Mr Duncan said.
"Roger Harvey epitomises what Halifax is all about- he is passionate about the town and local charities, and will do anything to keep Calderdale on the map.
"And I am delighted to say there are many more like Roger who have given significant donations to help our mission in supporting Communities in Need.
Mr Duncan said hundreds of people are expected to gather at magnificent Halifax Minster this evening to enjoy performances from a range of artists including the Halifax Choral Society, Ryburn Valley High Dancers, Square Chapel Brass and Northern Orchestra's Future Heroes.
Money raised by the sale of each 10 ticket will be poured into the Yorkshire Post's appeal fund.
Meanwhile donations are still flooding in from people across Yorkshire.
Large sums also continue to be raised through the charity auction, with bidders paying sizeable amounts to secure one of our unique auction lots.
And businesses from across the region are still organising fund-raising events in aid of the appeal.
Making donations is easy
YOU can donate to the Yorkshire Post's Communities in Need appeal in three easy ways. Every penny will be channelled towards community projects across the Yorkshire region.
Log onto www.justgiving.com/communitiesinneed Secure donations can be made at the website using credit or debit cards.
2. SEND A CHEQUE
Make cheques payable to the LCF Communities In Need Appeal, and send to: Leeds Community Foundation, 51a St Paul's Street, Leeds LS1 2TE. When sending in cheques, donors must include their contact details to enable the Yorkshire Communities Foundation to check if the donation is eligible for GiftAid.
3. PAY IN AT THE BANK
Simply walk into any branch of the Yorkshire Bank and make a donation to the LCF Communities in Need appeal. Quote the following details: Account No 11479437, Sort Code 05-00-20.