Catholic Charities programs seeking help during holidays

Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. is in urgent need of donations ahead of the extended holiday season. With Thanksgiving just a few weeks away, and Christmas not long afterwards there are thousands of families who are facing economic hardships this year exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic.

Since the Pandemic began, Catholic Charities has been on the front lines operating six food pantries and supporting several others. In seven months, between March 24 and Oct. 31, 2020, more than 1.5 million pounds of food have been distributed. In total, Catholic Charities has helped more than 150,000 with food and meals since the crisis began. Those numbers are double what the organization typical does in a full year.

Catholic Charities CEO Philomena Pereira said the organization has been meeting the demand, but more help is needed as the holidays approach. One big factor is the looming expiration at the end of 2020 of all built-in protections against foreclosure and eviction.

“Traditionally this is a time when Catholic Charities steps up to provide a bright holiday for families and children in need,” Pereira said. “Unfortunately, some our usual sources of support were equally impacted by the Pandemic, while the need for outside help is greater than ever.”

Pereira stressed that donations of food from individuals is needed, now more than ever, to supplement what Catholic Charities must purchase from outside sources.

The basic needs right now are for the following: canned vegetables, fruits, meats and soups; beans; rice; flour; maseca; pasta; tomato sauce; cereal; baby food; diapers (size 4 in greatest demand); as well as peanut butter and jelly.

As expected, the holidays have massively increased the demand for frozen turkeys and chickens, as well as other traditional holiday trimmings such as instant mashed potatoes, stuffing and more.

In addition, as Christmas approaches there is an urgent need for toys and clothing, specifically for babies and young children. For those looking to assist older children, there is always a demand for bicycles with appropriate helmets and pads.

For those unable to donate food or other items in person, donations of gifts cards to be used at Publix, Winn-Dixie, Walmart, Amazon or other local retailers are accepted. As always, financial donations are appreciated and will be used to support the ongoing effort of Catholic Charities to respond to the crisis caused by the global Pandemic. Leave the shopping to us if that is better for you!

To learn how to donate items and where to drop them off, please visit, or contact the number for your area below between 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday:

  • Sarasota/Manatee/DeSoto/Hardee/Highlands counties: 844-385-2407;
  • Charlotte/Lee/Hendry/Glades counties: 844-385-2423;
  • Collier County: 844-385-2404.