Despite the sluggish economy in 2012, the Pulaski County Salvation Army officially surpassed last year's record-breaking total and raised $80,408, compared to last year's $80,160.

"This truly has been a team effort and I would like like to express how proud the Salvation Army is of the community," Pulaski County Salvation Army chairman Gary Porter said. "After all, it's the community who donates all the money."

The organization announced that donations in conjunction with the organization were also up this year in comparison to last year.

More than 900 food baskets were distributed by the Good Samaritan Resource Center in conjunction with the Salvation Army this year – compared to slightly over 700 baskets last year. Costs were up this year as well. The Nursing Home Christmas Program expenditure for more than 400 people was up over 50 percent.

Throughout the Christmas campaign, Pulaski County volunteers spent over 735 hours ringing Salvation Army bells at locations in Dixon, Crocker, Richland, St. Robert and Waynesville.

Waynesville Mayor Luge Hardman, the honorary chairman of the Tree of Lights program for the Pulaski County Salvation Army said that she "truly enjoyed" her experience volunteering as a bell-ringer this season.

"I don't think there was a person I saw that didn't give something when I was bell-ringing," she said. "Some of them, God love them, looked like they couldn't rub two pennies together, but they gave them to us. I'm honored to be to be associated with this organization. They do good things for our county residents throughout the year.

The organization wants to emphasize that they help others in need throughout the year, not just at Christmas time.

" A lot of people don't realize that this is a year-round program," Porter said.

To help donate, the organization encourages that checks be mailed to Security Bank of Pulaski County, P.O. Box S, Waynesville, MO 65583 – or call Gary Porter at 573-336-3561 or Richard Baptiste at 573-336-7255.