Organizers of the annual Catholic Courier/Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal and representatives of the agencies that benefit from it hope donors will remember that funds are needed now more than ever to help serve the less fortunate around the diocese.
Marvin Mich, director of social policy and research for Rochester’s Catholic Family Center, said the recent economic crisis will have an impact on giving, but it also may help people realize how much need there is in the community.
“I’m expecting we’ll hold our own,” he said. “People know there are great demands and that those demands are increasing.”
The 39th-annual appeal has the same goal as last year, which is to raise $50,000, said Donna Stubbings, appeal coordinator and circulation manager for the Catholic Courier/El Mensajero Cat√≥lico. Last year’s appeal just reached that goal with a total of $50,004.50, she added.
“Everybody’s struggling,” Stubbings remarked. “But there’s a big difference between someone trying to find the money for luxuries and someone trying to find money for necessities. Those are the people we’re trying to help.”
The appeal, which will begin shortly after Thanksgiving and run through February, provides support for the emergency funds of Catholic Charities offices and affiliated agencies throughout the diocese. These entities use the funds to help individuals and families in short-term financial crises.
In previous years, appeal proceeds have been used to help individuals with special needs purchase such needed supplies 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 pay their rent or utility payments, and to help families afford groceries and gas.
The current state of the economy also should raise public awareness about the decreasing pool of resources, said Bobbi McGarrity, program manager for Catholic Family Center’s community resource services department.
“Some of these funds are imperative to step in when people are not able to do things (like) car repairs, rent assistance, mortgage assistance,” McGarrity said. “There are a lot of people who still want to donate.”
The appeal also enables CFC to provide funds for unique circumstances, she added, such as filling a prescription or providing bus fare to help someone get to work or a job interview. Appeal funds recently covered the cost of repairing the car of a woman who had just taken in two of her grandchildren, and that had a huge impact on their quality of life, McGarrity noted.
“You can’t go to too many places for that (kind of assistance),” she said. “There are unique situations that do not have a lot of resources. That’s why this (appeal) is very helpful too.”
No donation is too small, Stubbings stressed, noting that each year the appeal usually receives a few envelopes with $2 in them. Last year, 777 people donated with an average contribution of $64.36. The largest donation was $3,000.
Those who donated to the 2007-08 appeal soon will receive letters asking for their support, Stubbings added. Those interested in mailing donations may do so using the coupons that will appear in the Courier and El Mensajero editions from November to February. Those editions — as well as the newspaper’s Web site, www.catholiccourier.com— will contain feature articles about people served by the appeal.
“We recognize that recent economic developments have produced sharp declines in the retirement nest eggs of many prospective donors,” remarked Karen Franz, general manager and editor of the Courier and El Mensajero. “Yet the economic downturn will have harsh and immediate effects for many area residents who have no nest eggs at all. Mindful of those who live without any cushion — for whom even seemingly small setbacks can be devastating — we ask prospective donors to be especially generous in this challenging year.”