The Catholic Courier/Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal has not yet reached its 2010-11 campaign goal, but donors still have a few weeks to help it do so.
The appeal benefits Catholic Charities agencies throughout the diocese and parish-supported ministries that help people with emergency needs. As of Jan. 27 nearly 600 donors had contributed $39,546, or 79.1 percent of the appeal’s $50,000 goal. The appeal fell short in 2009-10, with 649 donors contributing $42,100.51, or 84.2 percent of the campaign’s $50,000 goal.
“Amid natural disasters and the ongoing U.S. recession, total donations as well as the number of donors to the appeal have been declining for the past several years, and this year has been no exception,” said Karen Franz, general manager and editor of the Courier and El Mensajero Cat√≥lico. “Nevertheless, diocesan and regional leaders of Catholic Charities have emphasized to us that they need the appeal more now than ever.”
Christmas Appeal funds are especially valuable to the agencies that distribute them because they’re unrestricted and can be used to provide emergency food, housing and other critical assistance to families who cannot immediately qualify for other types of aid, Franz added.
More and more families are finding themselves in such emergency situations, agreed Laura Opelt, executive director of Catholic Charities of Steuben County.
“We’re seeing increases in all those areas, in terms of people who are not food secure or people who are homeless. We have record numbers of those who are unemployed,” Opelt said.
Catholic Charities of Steuben County and similar agencies are feeling the pinch because the number of people seeking their assistance is growing while the number of resources available to help these people is shrinking, she said.
“It’s very typical of when you are in an economic decline or recession. With very few resources, everyone is competing for the same dollars. It becomes increasingly difficult to help the volume of people that we’re trying to serve,” she said.
Catholic Charities agencies persevere, however, because they’re committed to helping the poor, a call the agencies share with all Catholics, Opelt said.
“As Catholics we all have a responsibility to not only take care of our own needs, but also take care of the needs of others, especially those who are the most vulnerable. That’s key to who we are and what we do as Catholics,” she said.
By supporting the Christmas Appeal, donors can unite their efforts with those of Catholic Charities and other agencies and live out their Catholic call to help others in need, Opelt said. The appeal, which is now in its 41st year, runs through the end of February.
“Even though the 2010 holidays are long over, we implore readers on behalf of those needy families and the Charities agencies that serve them to contribute whatever amounts they can to the Christmas Appeal, which actually helps people all year long,” Franz said.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Please click here for a donation form that can be submitted by U.S. mail.