The United States’ faltering economy, increasingly the subject of front-page headlines in 2008, wasn’t news at all to Angela Klopf.
“The fact that we are ‘officially’ in a recession has just recently been announced. However, agencies like ours have seen a huge increase in need for many months now,” said Klopf, director of the Tioga Outreach Center in Waverly. “The majority of these people are new to our agency and have never had to ask for help before.”
Klopf noted that financial distress has forced families in her region to choose “between staying current on a mortgage or purchasing much needed food for their family.” She added that while day-to-day living needs are at an all-time high, “the financial support from the community has drastically dropped. The economic crisis has not only forced more to seek out help, but cut donations and support dramatically.”
Even though Klopf realizes that donors are significantly stretched, she still hopes that people will see fit to contribute to the Catholic Courier/Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal as well as other Catholic Charities initiatives.
“In the past, the Christmas Appeal has not only generated financial support, but been an opportunity to remind parishioners of the great work we are doing in the community,” said Klopf, adding that the appeal “is an opportunity to remind people, not accessing our services, of the vital work we do.”
She and other Catholic Charities officials in the Southern Tier said the appeal is one of many ways — along with government funding, grants and donations made directly to agencies — that Catholic Charities can remain a viable and important entity throughout the year.
A leading example of Catholic Charities’ good works was the Tioga Outreach Center’s extensive involvement in helping area residents recover from a devastating flood that struck in 2006 when the Susquehanna River overflowed. In fact, the center — an office of Catholic Charities of Tompkins/Tioga — utilized Christmas Appeal funds to aid flood victims.
Christmas Appeal monies benefit Catholic Charities agencies all across the Tier. Other examples, as noted in past Courier stories, include:
* A 2005 profile on the Samaritan Center operations in Elmira and Ithaca. The story noted that both facilities put Christmas Appeal funds toward such areas as food pantry, food-stamp enrollment, prescription assistance and emergency utilities.
* A 2004 story relating how Catholic Charities of Schuyler County assisted a recent high-school graduate who was struggling to make ends meet and had little family in the area. Among the support lent by Catholic Charities was an $80 allotment toward rent for the young woman. The funds came from the Christmas Appeal.
* Features in 2004 and 2007 detailing Turning Point, an emergency-services program in Steuben County. Christmas Appeal funds are put toward short-term assistance for such expenses as food, rent, utilities, medical needs and transportation, financial counseling and referrals. The first Turning Point opened in Bath in 1998. Steuben Catholic Charities has now expanded it to Corning, beginning in 2006, and also Hornell, where a branch opened this past June.