19th Annual Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal seeks support

For more than 36 years, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice Inc.  has provided food, clothing, shelter and a network of support services to people of all ages, all races and nationalities, and all religious backgrounds. The organization serves as a voice for the poor and vulnerable while reaching out in mercy to uphold the dignity of each person. This is done through more than 30 programs in locations throughout the Diocese.

The 19th Annual Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal is happening now through January. A donation will give those struggling the means to move beyond their battles and will strengthen our communities during these times of high unemployment and despair. This is the largest fundraising effort for the organization which operates by the motto: “Providing Help, Creating Hope, Serving All.”

It should come as no surprise that Catholic Charities has been at the forefront of the regional response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, seeing firsthand the devastation affecting families throughout Southwest Florida. Many lost jobs or were furloughed. Families could not pay their rent/mortgage or put food on the table, creating unprecedented stress and anxiety for all.

During the first three quarters of 2020, Catholic Charities distributed 144 percent more food compared to the entire previous year, explained Catholic Charities CEO Philomena Pereira. “Those who lost their jobs became vulnerable and those who were poor and vulnerable before, are now even more impoverished. Catholic Charities has continued to operate its programs to inspire meaningful change one individual at a time.” Here are some examples:

  • Feed the hungry through multiple food pantries, a mobile pantry and a soup kitchen.
  • Aid those on the brink of homelessness by helping pay rent or mortgage.
  • Counsel children and adults coping with stress and anxiety.
  • Encourage and train those who need work through the Empowerment Program.
  • Assist victims of labor and sex trafficking by providing housing, education and training, counseling, legal services.

Pereira shared examples of those assisted during the past few months:

Shyrie, a single mother of three children, was laid off in April due to COVID-19 and fell behind on her rent, so rental assistance was provided for two months allowed them to remain in their home.

Clifford, who lost his job, needed food to feed his struggling family, so the family received a gift certificate to get a turkey and a month’s supply of food.

A three-month supply of diapers was given to Sophia, a struggling single mother.

Tamara, a 10-year-old with anxiety, was counseled to manage the separation from her parents during their quarantine when they tested positive for COVID-19.

Patricio, a farmworker, fell behind on his water and utility bills due to a lapse in work as a result of a work accident, so financial assistance was provided to cover the bills for three months until he got back on his feet.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane knows the statistics well. “Please remember that every number represents a child, family or individual who relied on the support of Catholic Charities. Your gift to the Christmas Appeal will allow Catholic Charities to continue the important work of helping the most vulnerable in our community to improve their lives. Catholic Charities has stepped to the forefront in helping people through this Pandemic crisis, just as they have done in the past and will continue to do in the future. It is to all the people who have helped sustain Catholic Charities, which works to serve those in need, that I am deeply grateful.”

Pereira added that during the Christmas Appeal Campaign, people “have the opportunity to make a significant impact with a direct gift to children and families in need. Your generosity is deeply appreciated. Remember, no matter the amount of your gift, when combined with others, it will make a significant difference for those who turn to us in their time of need.”

To donate, please visit www.catholiccharitiesdov.org or mail a donation to Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., 5824 Bee Ridge Road PMB 409, Sarasota, FL 34233-5065.