By Chris Ruvo:
Jim and Kelley Tallia have fond memories of Christmas from their childhoods.
While they were not from wealthy families, their devoted parents always made the holidays special.
For the Doylestown couple, it’s deeply troubling to think that poverty could cause local children to miss out on the magic of the Christmas season that they so enjoyed.
That’s why the Tallias have been donating to Give A Christmas for nearly 25 years.
“We hope that we can help the parents of less fortunate children create similar memories for their children,” said Jim Tallia, president of Warminster-based Anchor Pump and Engineered Equipment.
The Tallias are among the caring locals who make Give A Christmas possible through their generous donations.
Now in its 30th year, Give A Christmas is a holiday outreach campaign The Intelligencer conducts in partnership with the Bucks County Opportunity Council, which administers the fund, 10 percent of the proceeds from which are shared with the Keystone Opportunity Center.
Complementing each other, the two community action agencies work on behalf of Give A Christmas to identify individuals and families struggling with financial hardship during the holidays in Central and Upper Bucks County, as well as Eastern Montgomery County and the North Penn and Indian Valley communities.
Once locals in need are identified, Give A Christmas donations go to help them do everything from buy groceries and gifts for their children, to aid in paying rent, medical bills and utility bills.
“The support of the community makes Give A Christmas possible,” said Erin A. Lukoss, executive director of the Bucks County Opportunity Council.
Over the years, that support has been robust.
Since Give A Christmas launched, the community has contributed nearly $2.8 million. In 2016, Intelligencer readers gave $126,594.64 — a tally organizers hope to surpass this year.
Doing so would, of course, empower Give A Christmas to deliver more holiday cheer to some of the more than 41,800 Bucks Countians — 6.6 percent of the county’s population — living below the poverty line.
Of course, those aren’t just numbers. Each is a real person, a neighbor, maybe a family member or friend.
There is the single mom working tirelessly in a low-wage job who can’t make ends meet despite her best efforts. There is the elderly widow shutting the heat off and wrapping herself in layers of blankets — a desperate attempt to keep warm while saving money. There’s the two-job working father, embarrassed to be at the food pantry, struggling to pay for his wife’s medical treatment and keep his children in food, clothes and shelter.
“It is hard to believe that so many families live in poverty in Bucks County,” said Jim Tallia. “Instead of one more gift for your family, consider donating so that a less fortunate child can have a Christmas. Just think about the excitement that children have on Christmas morning and how your gift can help one more child experience that.”