2018 It’s crunch time for Give A Christmas donations

Thanks to your donations, Give A Christmas has raised about $2.9 million since 1988 to help neighbors in need.

As winemakers, the Forest family knows the joys of a good harvest — the sense of abundance it brings. They have been sharing that feeling with others through the wine they’ve produced at their Buckingham Valley Vineyards & Winery in Buckingham since 1966.

Still, founder Jerry Forest also is acutely aware that for financially struggling folks in the local community, abundance can be little more than a pipe dream. That scarcity is most sharply felt around the holidays, and that’s why each year, Forest and Buckingham Valley Vineyards donates to The Intelligencer’s Give A Christmas Fund.

“Christmas is a time for giving and sharing with those less fortunate,” said Forest. “We feel that Give A Christmas offers an opportunity to give directly to those in need. We have been donating from the very beginning. With little overhead or bureaucracy, Give A Christmas is a most worthy charity.”

Administered by the Bucks County Opportunity Council, with 10 percent of the proceeds shared with the Keystone Opportunity Center, the fund provides financial assistance to individuals and families in need during the holidays.

Benefiting needy local residents in Central and Upper Bucks County, as well as Eastern Montgomery County and the North Penn and Indian Valley communities, the fund delivers a variety of assistance. That includes everything from help with buying gifts and groceries, to paying rent, medicine bills and utility expenses.

Donations from families, businesses and individuals powers the outreach. Thanks to such local donors, Give A Christmas has raised about $2.9 million since 1988.

After the program satisfies eligible requests for assistance during the holidays, the remaining fund balance could be used to provide similar types of assistance to eligible locals in need throughout the year.

It certainly delivers value in that purpose, said Joseph Cuozzo, director of development at the Bucks County Opportunity Council.

For instance, Cuozzo shared the story of a hard-working mother who benefited from the helping hand Give A Christmas and other services the Opportunity Council can provide.

The woman became homeless in the summer of 2017 after missing work due to health issues.

Fortunately, the Opportunity Council was able to house the woman and her son through a rapid rehousing program. Once her housing situation stabilized, the Bucks County mom transitioned into the council’s Economic Self-Sufficiency Program, where she has worked diligently on increasing her household income through job advancement.

“She is saving through an ES-matched savings account for home ownership and she hopes to utilize her savings and ES Graduate Home Ownership Award toward a home purchase,” said Cuozzo. “She is an absolutely wonderful parent, a dedicated employee, and a very kind woman who overcame a great deal this past year to reach economic stability.”

Indeed, Give A Christmas money goes to benefit many people like this woman — working poor who through a job loss or health issues or a death in the family fall on difficult times. The way GAC donors see things, it’s incumbent on the community to help get these individuals back on their feet — something that benefits not only the charity recipient, but Bucks and Eastern Montgomery as a whole.

“Give A Christmas allows more of our donation to go directly to the families that can benefit from it,” said Forest. “It feels good to share some of our good fortune with those in need.”

And the need is real.

Last year, Give A Christmas generated $139,439.46. That helped the Opportunity Council to provide assistance to 472 families (1,465 individuals). Average assistance per family was $187. Of the families served, average household income amounted to $16,211.

This year, The Intelligencer aims to raise $140,000 through Give A Christmas. Be part of the do-gooding and give today.

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