2020 Give A Christmas donations break annual record

Bucks and Montgomery County stepped up big time.

With community members facing economic plight on a huge scale due to fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, generous locals donated a record amount to The Intelligencer’s 2020 Give A Christmas campaign, organizers said.

Individuals, businesses, families, houses of worship and other organizations stepped up like never before, giving a total of $261,074 as of press time. That smashed the campaign’s goal of $140,000.

“I’ve been with the Bucks County Opportunity Council for 20 years and I’ve never seen Give A Christmas raise this much money,” said Erin A. Lukoss, CEO/executive director of BCOC, which administers the campaign in partnership with The Intelligencer. “We’re immensely thankful to everyone who contributed to make this year’s campaign such a success.”

Joseph Cuozzo, director of development at BCOC, noted that the organization will continue to accept more donations for Give A Christmas throughout the year. The campaign typically sees most donations between Thanksgiving and Christmas, with the giving often wrapping up by Martin Luther King Day.

“This year, during a pandemic, we saw such extreme generosity and concern for the community members of Bucks County who were struggling to make ends meet,” Cuozzo said. “The Give A Christmas donors showed Bucks County what true community is, taking care of one another in times of distress and hardship. We cannot thank the donors enough for their kindness. They truly made an impact on the lives of many.”

“I’m overwhelmed with the support of all of our readers,” Executive Editor Shane Fitzgerald said. “The Bucks and Montgomery county communities really stepped up when they were most needed. Our eternal thanks to the Bucks County Opportunity Council and the Levittown-Bristol Kiwanis Club for their tireless efforts in our partnership and facilitating helping so many people.”

Two donations were especially sizable. The Francis J. Raab Foundation gave $25,000. Local philanthropists Gene and Marlene Epstein donated $50,000 as part of a matching pledge. The Epsteins said they’d match every donation of $500 or more (made over a certain period of time) up to $50,000. In response to that, more than $100,000 in donations came in.

“A special thank you to the Gene & Marlene Epstein Humanitarian Fund and the Francis J. Raab Foundation for their substantial donations,” Cuozzo said. “These donations, combined with the individual gifts, pushed us to a record high for the fund. BCOC will work hard to use the funds to meet the needs of the community throughout the year to come.”

Give A Christmas launched in 1988. It’s raised north of $3 million over the years. The BCOC shares 10% of the proceeds with the nonprofit Souderton-based Keystone Opportunity Center.

The fund provides financial assistance to individuals and families in need during the holidays. Money not dispersed during the holidays is used to support locals in need 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.

“When we had the 30th anniversary of Give A Christmas, we raised just over $140,000,” Cuozzo said. “We have surpassed that significantly this year. Thank you, Bucks County.”

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