The Catholic Courier/Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal had a successful 2006-07 campaign, surpassing its goal by more than $5,000. In order to sustain future success, organizers are imploring first-time donors to get on board as the 2007-08 appeal begins.
The 38th-annual appeal, which will start shortly after Thanksgiving and run through early January, has a set goal of $50,000. Last year’s appeal raised $51,401 — 111.7 percent of the $46,000 goal.
Each Christmas Appeal provides support for the emergency funds of Catholic Charities offices and affiliated agencies throughout the diocese. These entities use the monies to help individuals and families in short-term financial crises.
It is a project of immense value, said Bobbi McGarrity, a senior case manager for Rochester’s Catholic Family Center.
“Those facing financial hardships find it difficult enough to navigate and obtain the basic public benefits such as food stamps, medical insurance and affordable and decent housing, not to mention what happens when there is an unexpected emergency such as sudden loss of income, medical emergency, car repair, high utility costs and rising fuel costs, to name a few,” McGarrity said. “Without the Christmas Appeal funds, many people would have nowhere else to turn for help for these situations that arise.”
Shortly after Thanksgiving, people who have donated to past Christmas Appeals will receive letters asking them to again consider giving generously to the appeal. Each edition of Catholic Courier Weekly from Dec. 1-2, 2007, to Jan. 5-6, 2008 — as well as the December monthly issue and the December edition of El Mensajero Cat√≥lico —will contain features on agencies, ministries, families and individuals that have benefitted from the Christmas Appeal. Each article will be accompanied by a coupon for use in making donations.
Among the situations described in last year’s articles were those of a widowed father who was given $239 to purchase second-hand mattresses for three of his six children who had been sleeping on the floor; and a homeless mother of two children who received $25 for a bus pass so she could find work while living in an emergency shelter.
A total of 712 donations were received for the 2005-06 appeal with 56 new donors utilizing coupons from the newspapers, according to Donna Stubbings, appeal coordinator and circulation manager for the Catholic Courier/El Mensajero Cat√≥lico. Stubbings expressed appreciation for the large donations, but emphasized that small amounts — the lowest gift last year was $2 — help make a significant difference as well.
“Their $10 and $20 donations add up,” Stubbings said.
Stubbings noted that it also is possible for people to make their appeal donations in honor or memory of certain individuals. An ideal person in this regard would be Judy Taylor, longtime communications manager for diocesan Catholic Charities, who died July 19 after a lengthy battle with cancer. Taylor served for many years as the Catholic Charities liaison for the Christmas Appeal, staging a number of Work of Human Hands sales to raise appeal funds.
“I know she put a lot of effort into the Christmas Appeal. It was her pet project,” Stubbings said.
Karen Franz, general manager/editor of the Courier/El Mensajero, said she hopes even more Catholic families will see fit to become involved with the appeal. She observed that the Courier’s circulation increased dramatically in recent years — now exceeding 115,000 households throughout the diocese — but that most Christmas Appeal support comes from loyal donors who have contributed for many years.
Franz acknowledged that there are many worthy causes to consider at this time of year, making it difficult for people to prioritize.
“I don’t know that I have an answer to that, except to ask people to prayerfully consider where to put their dollars to best use,” Franz said.