For 37 years, the Catholic Courier/Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal has helped the needy in times of crisis, and this year will be no different. The 2006 appeal, which will begin shortly after Thanksgiving, has a goal of $46,000.
Each year the Christmas Appeal raises money for the emergency funds of various Catholic Charities agencies throughout the diocese. These agencies use the money to help people in financial crisis meet their basic needs. Many recipients are either ineligible for assistance from other sources or are waiting for such assistance to come through.
The Christmas Appeal provides diocesan Catholics with a way to live out their call to provide a preferential option for the poor, which is a long-standing principle of Catholic social teaching, said Jack Balinsky, director of diocesan Catholic Charities.
“Simply put, this means that God’s love, and our love, is spontaneously directed to those most in need. We do this automatically in our families and with those we love,” Balinsky said. “The Christmas Appeal offers us an opportunity to practice this option with vulnerable people whom we have never met but who depend on our charity as a sign that God walks with them.”
In previous years, appeal proceeds have been used to help individuals with special needs purchase necessary supplies, such as medications, canes, adult diapers or special formula for sick infants. Appeal money also has been used to help people who have fallen on hard times make their rent or utility payments and to help families afford groceries and gas.
More than 760 donors contributed a total of $42,945 to last year’s appeal, according to Donna Stubbings, appeal coordinator and circulation manager for the Catholic Courier/El Mensajero Cat√≥lico. Individual donations ranged from $1 to $2,000, but the average donation size was approximately $56, she said.
The Christmas Appeal was founded in the 1960s by the staff of what was then called the Courier-Journal, recalled Karen Franz, general manager/editor of the Courier/El Mensajero. As economic conditions and competition from other worthy causes have fluctuated through the years, so too have contribution levels. Last year contributions totaled 86 percent of the appeal’s $50,000 goal, Stubbings said.
Christmas Appeal organizers have set this year’s goal at $46,000, but are determined to continue supporting the needy through this effort.
“Although economic shifts and competition from other charities have depressed contribution levels in recent years, we continue to operate the campaign because the recipient agencies have come to depend on these funds, which can be used to assist people who do not qualify for other types of assistance,” Franz said.
Shortly after Thanksgiving, people who have donated to the Christmas Appeal in the past will receive letters asking them to again consider giving generously to the appeal, Stubbings said. Each edition of Catholic Courier Weekly between Dec. 2 and Jan. 7 — as well as the December monthly issue and the December edition of El Mensajero Cat√≥lico —will feature articles highlighting people who’ve benefitted from the appeal in past years. Each article will be accompanied by a coupon that can be used to make donations to the appeal.