The poor state of the economy may have a negative impact on the final tally for the annual Catholic Courier/Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal, but appeal officials said they are hopeful that the Rochester Diocese’s generosity will come through in the end.
As of Jan. 15, donors had contributed $42,477 to the appeal, representing 85 percent of the $50,000 goal, said Donna Stubbings, appeal coordinator and circulation manager for the Courier and El Mensajero Cat√≥lico. At the same time last year, donations had reached 98 percent of the goal, which was unchanged between years, she said.
By the end of November, the annual fundraising campaign was 5 percent ahead of that point in 2007, and Stubbings said she initially felt confident that the goal would be reached.
“Then, it sort of slowed down. But it’s not too late,” she said, noting that donations still are being accepted.
If donations fall short of the goal, lesser amounts will be allocated to the Catholic Charities agencies supported by the appeal and they, in turn, will have less to distribute to people they serve — all at a time when need is rapidly growing, Stubbings said.
“The economic downturn may represent an unfortunate Catch-22 situation,” agreed Karen Franz, general manager and editor of the Courier and El Mensajero Cat√≥lico. “Many people who were already struggling before the economy faltered now are being pushed into financial crisis. But, as a result of economic anxiety among prospective donors, fewer appeal dollars may be available to assist them. It’s a very difficult situation.”
The appeal, which began shortly after Thanksgiving, supports the emergency funds of Catholic Charities offices and affiliated agencies throughout the diocese. These agencies use the money to help individuals and families in short-term financial crises.
Last year, 777 people donated an average of $64.36 to the appeal. The largest donation was $3,000. This year, Stubbings said she noticed that past years’ donors really made an effort to add a little more to their contributions. For example, she said some donors who had previously donated $25 donated $26 this year.
Stubbings said she imagined such donors thinking, “I can do this little bit extra to help.”
Each year during the appeal, the Courier and El Mensajero Cat√≥lico — plus the Courier’s weekly eNews and Web site (www.catholiccourier.com) — publish feature articles explaining how donations to the appeal have helped people around the diocese. Stubbings said she believes these articles help spur people to donate, especially since the stories demonstrate how a small amount of money can help people in crisis situations.
This year’s stories recounted the difficulty that a Canandaigua family faced when the father lost his job and the family could not afford both food and housing. Appeal funds provided the family with food and clothing, and enabled them to buy prescriptions for the father, who had contracted pneumonia. Appeal funds also have purchased food and gift certificates for families in the City of Rochester; Christmas gifts for single mothers and migrant families in the Brockport area; and helped with disaster relief among residents in the Tioga County area recovering from Susquehanna Rivera flooding.
Stubbings and Franz encouraged readers to prayerfully review their economic situations and consider making donations — no matter how small — to this year’s Christmas Appeal.
Checks may be made payable to “Christmas Appeal” and sent to the Catholic Courier, PO Box 24379, Rochester, NY 14624. Please include your name, address, city, state, ZIP code, telephone number, and whether the gift is in honor or in memory of someone.
Although appeal donations are gratefully accepted year-round, those received after February will be applied to next year’s appeal.