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As previous donors become clients, Catholic Charities needs help to meet the need

Catholic Charities is the lifeline this community desperately needs in the middle of a historic pandemic. But the nonprofit agency, which serves all people regardless of religion, cannot fully do its job without the support of those able to give.

Whatever money people can spare will make a difference toward Appeal 2020, which so far has raised nearly $6.5 million, or about 65% of the $10 million goal. The campaign, which began on Jan. 14, will run until June 30.

The third annual HOPE Day, which is May 22, provides another opportunity for new donors – or anyone – to pledge an added gift that will be matched up to $58,000. HOPE Day in its two previous years brought a total of $923,369 to help the campaign achieve its goal.

This year’s fundraising has been challenging. The local economy has nose-dived because of the coronavirus pandemic. A recent column by The News’ David Robinson showed that jobless claims and employment figures put the local jobless rate at more than 24%. That’s calamitous for everyone, including the charities whose struggle to raise funds has become more difficult, even as demand for their assistance suddenly soars.

Deacon Steve Schumer, Catholic Charities’ president and CEO, referred to the growing need in these unprecedented times. From March 16 through May 8, nearly 27,800 people received 40,312 services. Clients have accessed a variety of programs that include food pantries, basic emergency assistance, mental health and substance use counseling, domestic violence services and food, nutrition and education programs offered through Women, Infants and Children.

The pandemic consumes most of the energy at Catholic Charities these days. Not only is demand for its help rising, but the organization must also take steps to keep its staff, volunteers and clients safe from the virus. That adds more than a wrinkle to a job that was already challenging.

But those are today’s conditions. The staff and the volunteers are critical to meeting Catholic Charities’ mission. So are the donors.

Despite the negativity last year from the priest sex abuse scandal – not connected to Catholic Charities – response so far has been positive. The appeal is receiving about $100,000 a day in mailed-in donations, yet typically by now the appeal is at 85% of goal. That’s left the campaign behind by a few million dollars, though many donors remain to be heard from.

The reality is that many people who would normally donate are now in need of help, themselves. Some may not be aware that the agency that previously supported may be able to return the favor. That knowledge helps to create the positive vibe that the Appeal’s 2020 chairman, Rick Cronin, has found at parish workshops around the diocese.

Catholic Charities has 51 programs and 43 sites, meeting the needs of people, as Cronin said, from womb to grave: WIC program for mothers and children up to 5; school-age counseling; multisystemic therapy for families (for at-risk teens); elder care; general equivalency degree programs; and workforce development.

There is still time to support the important work of Catholic Charities.

To make a donation, or for more information, contact Catholic Charities at 218-1400 or go to

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