2023-24 Christmas Appeal begins in Rochester Diocese - Catholic Courier
The logo for the Christmas Appeal features a red heart with a white evergreen tree outline.

The 54th-annual Catholic Courier/Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal campaign will begin right after Thanksgiving with a goal of $46,500.

2023-24 Christmas Appeal begins in Rochester Diocese

Many impoverished people are tasked with a never-ending juggling act, Marcus Ebenhoe observed.

“The taking-care-of-children ball, the housing ball, the food ball, the transportation ball — all these balls you’re trying to keep in the air, and there are never enough hands to go around,” said Ebenhoe, who serves as advocacy and parish social-ministry director for Catholic Charities Family and Community Services in Rochester.

One helping hand is offered by the Catholic Courier/Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal, which raises money for the emergency funds of Catholic Charities offices and affiliated agencies throughout the Rochester Diocese. The 54th-annual campaign will begin right after Thanksgiving with a goal of $46,500. It will run through the end of February 2024.

“The Christmas Appeal brings people hope,” Ebenhoe said. “It shows that they’re not forgotten.”

New donors sought to help appeal reach goal

According to Courier Office Manager Kim Woodams, who serves as Christmas Appeal coordinator, last year’s appeal raised $44,947 — 97.7 percent of its $46,000 goal.

Woodams expressed hope that a wave of new donors will join returning contributors in helping the 2023-24 appeal to achieve or surpass its goal. She noted that although 39 first-time givers emerged in 2022-23, contributing a total of $6,365, the overall number of donors from the previous year dipped slightly, from 436 to 429. The new contributors gave an average of $163.21 compared to the overall average of $104.77, Woodams added.

An opportunity to donate early in the 2023-24 campaign will occur Nov. 28, when the annual United Way ROC the Day fundraiser takes place. That 24-hour event, which benefits Rochester-area not-for-profit organizations, generated $1,962 in Christmas Appeal donations last year — almost double the previous year’s ROC the Day amount.

Ministries in the Rochester Diocese use appeal funds in many ways

Ebenhoe noted that Christmas Appeal proceeds are frequently put toward Thanksgiving and/or Christmas baskets for those who cannot afford holiday meals. Meanwhile, some ministries utilize funds for immediate food needs, and others invest in hats and gloves for the winter season.

In addition, allocations in previous years have gone toward utility bills; security deposits; rent and mortgage payments; home repairs; transportation; and prescriptions. Many Christmas Appeal dollars support people who are awaiting, or are ineligible for, other types of financial support.

A key benefit of Christmas Appeal funds is their unrestricted status, meaning they can be used at the discretion of each receiving agency.

“It’s a way to respond to the immediate needs of a particular community. One neighborhood’s needs might be different from another one’s,” Ebenhoe explained.

Needs of appeal recipients are increasing

Due to growing economic challenges, Christmas Appeal funds are more vital than ever, Ebenhoe said. He noted that some pandemic-era federal benefits were discontinued this past year, while inflation continues to eat way at budgets, and rental costs have risen drastically.

“Childhood poverty doubled in the last year. People aren’t able to put the same amount of food on the table that they used to. Oftentimes people are working, but they’re not getting enough pay to live off of it,” Ebenhoe said, noting that he’s spoken with “a number of parents” who regularly skip meals to afford rent and so their children have enough to eat.

These are the types of people who — thanks to relatively small sacrifices on the part of donors — can enjoy a bit of relief from their struggles via the Christmas Appeal.

“It helps provide little things that we may take for granted — a nice meal for the holidays that provide nice memories, warm fingers (from gloves), a hat on our head when the wind whips around us,” Ebenhoe said.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Prior donors to the Christmas Appeal will receive solicitation letters and donation envelopes at Thanksgiving time. Checks payable to “Christmas Appeal” also may be sent to the Catholic Courier, PO Box 24379, Rochester, NY 14624. Please include your name, address, city, state, ZIP code and telephone number, and note if the gift is being made in honor or memory of somebody. To print out a donation coupon, download the PDF below.

Tags: Catholic Charities
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