The months spent by Catholic Charities of Buffalo preparing to provide both holiday and basic needs for many in the community resulted in success, agency officials report, but it couldn’t have been done without the donations and help from many others.
Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of area churches, businesses, individuals and women volunteers, Catholic Charities was once again able to give Christmas gifts and basic needs items to 1,566 families and 3,146 individuals in Western New York this holiday season.
The Ladies of Charity, a volunteer organization affiliated with Catholic Charities, collaborated with Queen of Martyrs Church in Cheektowaga, All Saints Roman Catholic Church in Lockport, the Notre Dame University Alumni Association, and the security department at Canisius College – among others – to provide more than 2,000 toys to families in need across 40 Catholic Charities’ sites.
In addition to toys for children, area churches collected various items such as clothing and household goods, so adults could be given gifts this Christmas season as well. Father Walter Sczeszny and All Saints Roman Catholic Church in Lockport collected gift cards and housewares including crockpots, blankets and irons; a Giving Tree sponsored by Holy Family Church in Buffalo collected hundreds of gifts for adults and children; the St. Brigid Parish Ladies of Charity in Bergen amassed more than 400 pairs of socks through their “Sockember” sock drive; and collection drives for toiletries and cleaning supplies through Infant of Prague Church in Cheektowaga and St. Joseph Parish in Holland resulted in the distribution of more than 130 Homebound Bags, which are given to elderly individuals in need through Catholic Charities’ Department of Parish Outreach and Advocacy.
Local philanthropist Dave Rogers, along with the support of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Clarence and various community groups, spearheaded a collection effort that resulted in 1,500 gifts and more than 700 holiday dinner hams.
Additionally, Catholic Charities’ Christmas efforts were bolstered through the Buffalo News’ News Neediest Fund, which provided food and toys for families in need, and through support from Mystic Pines Candle Co. in Lancaster, which donated 25% of every retail candle sold during Dec. 9 through Dec. 22.
“We are immensely grateful to all of these generous hearts across Western New York who work so hard to collect gifts simply so others will not have to go without during the holidays. We could not accomplish a fraction of what we do during the Christmas season without their help,” said Dennis C. Walczyk, president and CEO of Catholic Charities. “But it’s not just those on the receiving end who find joy in this. We often hear stories from donors who know only a child’s name, age and interests, and then put in so much time, thought and love into choosing a truly special gift for them. The amount of happiness generated through these donation efforts is immeasurable.”