Fitzgerald: Give A Christmas once again brings holidays to those in need

One of the points of pride we have as a newspaper is that we exist to serve our local community. Bringing readers local news is Job No. 1, of course, but we do feel a responsibility beyond that.

Perhaps the most tangible example of what that means to us has been our decades-long commitment to our Give A Christmas program, which starts Sunday, Nov. 18. Our previous owners, the Calkins family, started the program 61 years ago at the Bucks County Courier Times. They brought it to the Burlington County Times 51 years ago and to The Intelligencer 31 years ago. Last year, our generous readers surpassed the $10 million mark in total funds raised, including more than $300,000 last year.

The newspapers changed ownership to GateHouse Media last year, but the commitment to this program has not changed. All proceeds go back into the distribution funds and any overhead costs are absorbed by The Intelligencer, the Courier Times and the Burlington County Times and their charitable partners.

The Intelligencer partners with the Bucks County Opportunity Council to collect and distribute monetary donations. The average family receiving help has an annual income of around $14,000. Intelligencer readers, since 1988, have supported the Give A Christmas fund with heart-felt generosity, but expenses have been greater than income for the past few years. That means our charitable partners received eligible requests for assistance from families in need that exceeded the money the newspapers collected. This year, we set a goal of $140,000 to help those in need.

Bucks and Montgomery county residents with children age 17 and younger are eligible to be considered for assistance, and the BCOC works with its partners to distribute funds throughout the community. A portion also goes to the Keystone Opportunity Council to assist those in Easter Montgomery County. Readers can find information to submit requests and give donations at our website or find information daily in our Community section.

Last year, thousands of Bucks and eastern Montgomery county children benefited from the program, mostly from modest to large donations from readers. Every dollar counts and is important. We honor those who donate by recognizing them in our publications, publishing almost-daily lists of donors. Over and over, when needs come up, residents show their generosity through their wallets.

Sometimes, Give A Christmas proceeds provide a gift for kids who might not get one. Other times, it helps pay the utility or food bills. And it’s not just about Christmas. It helps anyone in need, regardless of their faith or politics.

We live in a remarkable area and are so fortunate to be as blessed as we are. Unfortunately, not everyone has the same opportunities or resources and often people get in a bind through no fault of their own.

So as you’re considering your holiday charity giving this season, we ask you to donate to our Give A Christmas fund. Every little bit helps — we’ve received everything from $1 to thousands of dollars in donations and each benefits someone. Have a great holiday season, and I hope the gift of giving is in your plans.

Shane Fitzgerald is executive editor of The Intelligencer, Bucks County Courier-Times, and the Burlington County (N.J.) Times. Email: Twitter: @sfitzg5.

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