Proceeds from the Catholic Courier/Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal recently allowed the staff of Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes to improve the lives of many people, including a young mother-to-be, a disabled father, and a mother and two young boys who were fleeing an abusive home life.
Now in its 47th year, the Christmas Appeal raises money for the emergency funds of various Catholic Charities, including Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes, and other affiliated agencies throughout the Diocese of Rochester. The 2015-16 Christmas Appeal raised $43,000 for these agencies, and organizers hope this year's appeal, which began at Thanksgiving, will raise $45,000.
Proceeds from the Christmas Appeal are extremely valuable to the agencies that receive them because the funds do not come with restrictions governing how they must be used, according to Ellen Wayne, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes, which serves people in Ontario, Seneca, Yates and Cayuga counties. This affords flexibility to the agencies' staff members, who use the funds to meet the wide variety of needs they're faced with. Case workers often use appeal funds to help people who may not qualify for other forms of assistance yet still need help, according to Wayne.
Case workers at Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes, for example, used Christmas Appeal funds to help a pregnant woman after complications in the pregnancy forced her to stop working earlier than she'd planned.
"Ending work early made it difficult for her to afford food," Wayne explained. "She came to Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes, where she received assistance purchasing food. She was also provided with some additional supplies to help welcome her baby."
Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes' case workers also used Christmas Appeal funds to help a disabled father who was waiting for his disability benefits to be approved. His family had very few resources, and case workers learned the man had been walking to all of his appointments in a pair of sneakers that were worn and full of holes on the bottoms and sides.
"With the inclement weather, this was unacceptable. Funds from the appeal were used to help purchase (the man) new sneakers," Wayne said.
The agency's staff also used funds from the 2015-16 Christmas Appeal to assist a mother and her two young sons, who left an abusive situation in the downstate area and moved to Yates County, where they lived temporarily in a friend's camper. As winter approached and the weather turned cold, the mother turned to Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes, where case workers were able to help her obtain secure housing as well as warm clothing and outerwear for the children.
"Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes staff used appeal money to purchase food for the family, including a turkey for their Thanksgiving," Wayne said.
EDITOR'S NOTE: To donate to the appeal, mail checks payable to Christmas Appeal to the Catholic Courier, PO Box 24379, Rochester, NY 14624. Please include your name, address, city, state, ZIP code and telephone number, and indicate whether the gift is being made in honor or memory of someone. For more information, visit www.catholiccourier.com/christmas-appeal.