Despite — or perhaps because of — the choppy economy, The Seattle Times Fund For The Needy has raised nearly a half-million dollars so far. It is once again on track to raise the largest amount in its history.

Despite — or perhaps because of — the choppy economy, readers so far have raised more than a half-million dollars for The Seattle Times Fund For The Needy.

Donors once again are on track to give the largest amount in the fund’s history.

As of Dec. 14, the fund had raised $500,605 from 1,774 donors. That’s a third more than it raised during the same time period last year — and last year was a record-breaker.

The amount of donations is “fantastic,” said Alan Fisco, senior vice president of sales and marketing for The Seattle Times. “People are starting to realize there are a lot of people in need, and we need to do something to help out.”

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The 2 ½-month fund drive raises money annually for 13 community-service organizations, which provide critical services to hundreds of families every year. It is the 33rd year of the fund, and it has raised about $14.2 million since its creation.

Last year on Dec. 13, the fund had raised $355,071, and by the end of the drive, it had raised $926,069. So far this year, the fund has received about 500 more individual donations — a 40 percent increase over last year.

One anonymous donor has contributed $75,000 to the fund, and several checks totaling $20,000 have come in as well. Many check writers slip a little thank-you note into the envelope, and others write or call to say they like the way the fund is set up to give 100 percent of the money to the agencies.

“The support ranges from infants, to young families in need, to senior citizens,” Fisco said. “Everyone can identify with at least one of those needs.”

Katherine Long: 206-464-2219 or On Twitter @katherinelong.