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Catholic Charities kicks off its 94th appeal

Catholic Charities of Buffalo launched its 94th annual appeal Wednesday at its new Harlem Road WIC site that gives food vouchers and nutritional counseling to 2,200 participants each month.

It was the perfect place to showcase the theme of this year's appeal, "Love your neighbor."

"When we provide food at one of our eight pantries, clothing through the Ladies of Charity thrift store, or help a single parent to regain shelter for her family, we are loving our neighbor," said Sister Mary McCarrick, diocesan director of Catholic Charities. "When we offer affordable treatment for all ages for mental illness and substance abuse, we are loving our neighbor. And, when we provide accessible and skilled counseling in many locations across Western New York to children and families for all kinds of life’s challenges, we are loving our neighbor.”

This is the third year the appeal has had a goal of $11 million. Retaining the goal “recognizes the challenges associated with raising such a significant amount of money while also realizing the need for our programs and services is great,” Bishop Richard J. Malone said.

This is the first year three family members will lead the drive. Robert M. Bennett, chancellor emeritus of the state Board of Regents, is the general chairman for the appeal and his son, Andrew, and daughter, Maurine Falkowski, will serve as co-chairs. The family selected St. Clare of Assisi as the 2018 patron saint.

The appeal will run through June 30, with the first report scheduled March 18, to start Appeal Week, which culminates March 25, Palm Sunday.

"The services provided by Catholic Charities benefited nearly 153,000 people last year alone, and this year’s appeal will help us to continue providing help and hope to our neighbors in need,” Bishop Malone said.

Administration of the federally funded WIC program is one of Catholic Charities' 70 programs across 60 sites in eight Western New York counties, and the new site on Harlem Road in Cheektowaga offered the agency the opportunity to pilot participant-centered nutrition services, said Dennis Walczyk, Catholic Charities’ chief executive officer.

"Through this model, the participant is able to complete all of the necessary steps for nutrition orientation and education in one room, as opposed to moving from room to room. For expectant mothers and those with small children, this one-stop approach is much more manageable and client-focused,” he said.

Catholic Charities, which administers the program to 70,000 individuals in Erie, Niagara and Chautauqua counties, wants to implement the new model at all its sites.

To make a donation to the 2018 appeal or for more information, contact Catholic Charities at 218-1400 or go to ccwny.org.

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