2020 Give A Christmas enters home stretch; time to donate is now

Now is the time to make a difference.

With less than two weeks to go to Christmas, The Intelligencer’s Give A Christmas campaign is entering the home stretch. The charitable campaign remains short of the $140,000 seasonal goal, but generous individuals, families, businesses and other organizations can change that by stepping up to donate now.

“We’re ahead of last year’s pace, but we still have a ways to go and we’re encouraging anyone who can to contribute now,” said Joseph Cuozzo, director of development at the Doylestownhead-quartered Bucks County Opportunity Council (BCOC), which administers Give A Christmas in partnership with The Intelligencer.

Amid the financial hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s particular need for the support that Give A Christmas provides in 2020.

“With many families still in need, some for the first time in their lives, Give A Christmas gives you an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our struggling neighbors here in Bucks County,” said Tammy B. Schoonover, chief program officer at BCOC. “100% of the Give A Christmas contributions go to direct financial assistance to low-income Bucks County residents. Whether it is $5 or $500, the money is used to make the holiday season a little brighter.”

Concerning Give A Christmas, BCOC shares 10% of the proceeds with the Souderton-based nonprofit Keystone Opportunity Center. Funds raised through the campaign provide financial assistance to individuals and families in need during the holidays. Money not dispersed during the holidays is used to support struggling locals throughout the year.

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

“It also helps low-income people working toward self-sufficiency by assisting with education expenses, car repair, childcare payments and more,” said Schoonover.

Anticipating that COVD-caused economic hardships would drive a spike in demand for assistance this holiday season, BCOC started the Give A Christmas initiative two weeks earlier than normal this year. The demand has indeed been strong as the pandemic forces households into painful situations.

For instance, some parents have had to stop working in order to be home with young children who are attending school virtually and can’t be left alone, thus causing income to dry up. Meanwhile, some parents have been missing work because their employers have had to shut down for a couple weeks at a time due to what Schoonover described as COVID outbreaks.

“By the time the parents seek unemployment compensation, they are returning back to work — left to recover from the loss of income,” she said.

Thanks to generous area residents and businesses, Give A Christmas had raised about $129,000 so far this holiday season as of press time.

The tally, which adds to the more than $3 million donated since the campaign began 32 years ago, was helped along significantly by a matching donation pledge from Bucks County philanthropist Gene Epstein.

Still, need remains, and the time to help is dwindling. Don’t let it pass by without doing your part.

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