2019 Fitzgerald: Give A Christmas returns for its 32nd year

Local news is our No. 1 focus, without question. That is what our readers expect and what we expect of ourselves. But we also live here and support our community. And, in my mind, the best way we show that is with our Give A Christmas program.

Give A Christmas starts Sunday, Nov. 17. Our previous owners, the Calkins family, started the initiative 62 years ago at the Bucks County Courier Times. They brought it to the Burlington County Times 52 years ago and to The Intelligencer 32 years ago. Two years ago, our generous community surpassed the $10 million mark in total funds raised overall and Intelligencer readers last year brought in $131,509.

Our ownership has changed, but our commitment to this endeavor has not. 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 heartfelt generosity, but the eligible requests for assistance from families in need 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 Eastern Montgomery County. Readers can find information to submit requests and give donations at our website www.theintell.com/giveachristmas 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 great area and are fortunate to be where we are. Unfortunately, not everyone has the same opportunities or resources and often people get in a bad way 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 budget.

Shane Fitzgerald is Atlantic Sub-Regional Executive Editor for GateHouse Media, including The Intelligencer and 20 other publications in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, West Virginia and Maryland. Contact him at sfitzgerald@theintell.com.

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