ROCHESTER — Nearly 100 families will receive baskets of food and gift cards just in time for Christmas from St. Michael and Our Lady of Perpetual Help churches, thanks in part to funds raised by the annual Catholic Courier/Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal.
Over the years the churches — which have merged to form Our Lady of the Angels Parish — have received Christmas Appeal funds through Hunger Relief grants. The grants are funded by combining proceeds from the appeal and the Lenten fundraiser Operation Rice Bowl.
Deacon Daniel Hurley, Our Lady of the Angels’ pastoral administrator, said that the Hunger Relief grants are used to purchase staples for the churches’ Christmas food baskets. Also this year, gift certificates will be purchased from Tops Food Markets — which in the past has donated additional gift certificates — and included in the baskets “so families can go to the store and buy perishables,” he added.
Although this year’s grants are half of what the churches received last year, he said that the important thing is that families in need are still being served at the holidays.
“I know there’s a lot of need,” he said. “And there’s less money and more people needing it.”
Organizers of the 39th-annual appeal said that proceeds provide support for the emergency funds of Catholic Charities offices and affiliated agencies throughout the diocese. The goal of this year’s appeal — which began shortly after Thanksgiving and will run through February — is $50,000, which is the same as last year’s goal.
Catholic Charities offices and affiliated agencies use appeal 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 medications, canes 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 bills, and to help families afford groceries and gas.
This year, Our Lady of the Angels’ Christmas baskets will serve 143 adults and 170 children younger than age 16, Deacon Hurley noted.
Food drives conducted by Church of the Good Shepherd in Henrietta and St. Louis Church in Pittsford, and donations from the Boy Scouts’ Scouting for Food drive, help ensure the baskets are full, he added. Our Lady of the Angels parishioners also donate food, he said.
Volunteers will prepare the baskets later this month at St. Michael’s parish hall, which is being used as the central location for all food drop-offs and basket deliveries, Deacon Hurley said.