The spirt of the Christmas season burns brightly in the heart of Diane Paul.
The way the Plumstead woman sees it, “we’re all here to help each other.” It’s that compassionate outlook that’s compelled Paul to donate to The Intelligencer’s annual Give A Christmas fund for years.
“People don’t necessarily realize that there are community members in need in Bucks County, but the reality is that there are local people dealing with circumstances beyond their control — circumstances that are not their fault — that need a little help,” said Paul. “I’ve been blessed, and if I can help bring a little light to someone else’s life, it’s my responsibility to do so.”
Other folks who have consistently donated to Give A Christmas over its more than 30 years of existence give similar reasons for their contributions. Like Paul, they appreciate that the charitable holiday season initiative directly benefits people in need who live in the community.
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 for rent, medicine, bills and utility expenses.
Money not dispersed during the holidays is used to support locals in need throughout the year with everything from food and rent to employment assistance.
Nancy and Clarence Walbert have been donating to Give A Christmas ever since they moved back to the area more than 20 years ago following their time living in New Jersey. They appreciate that the funds benefit people who live locally.
“We’ve always been local givers. It feels good to give back to our community,” said Clarence.
Added Nancy: “Hundreds of families have benefitted from this wonderful fund and go on to contribute themselves. It’s at the top of our list for holiday contributions and needed now more than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Bucks County Opportunity Council (BCOC), which administers the fund in partnership with The Intelligencer, can confirm the truth of that statement, saying that need remains elevated in a year beset by local natural disasters and continued COVID-caused economic hardships foisted on the area’s most vulnerable people.
“Give A Christmas is a great way for people to support the needs of local families,” said Joseph Cuozzo, director of development at BCOC, which shares 10% of the proceeds with the Souderton-based nonprofit Keystone Opportunity Center.
David Creamer agrees with Cuozzo.
Creamer is treasurer of the Montgomery County-based Francis J. Raab Foundation, a philanthropic organization that supports veterans, worthy charities and more. The Rabb Foundation has been among Give A Christmas’ most faithful givers, donating annually for more than 30 years now.
“I like that it’s local and that the support is going to people in need in the neighborhood,” said Creamer. “It’s the Christmas spirt to help out folks who need help. That’s why we do it, and why we’ll continue to do it.”
Without such altruism, Give A Christmas would not be able to execute its mission, said Cuozzo.
It was generous individuals, businesses, families, nonprofits, places of worship and other organizations that empowered the fund to achieve a record fundraising tally of more than a quarter-million dollars. This year’s goal is $165,000 – a mark BCOC would be happy to surpass.
“Without donors, there is no Give A Christmas,” Cuozzo said. “BCOC and Keystone couldn’t help families during Give A Christmas without the support. The donors are Give A Christmas. BCOC is only the conduit to bring people together. That’s what BCOC and community action are all about – bringing people together to help others.”
— Chris Ruvo, Special to The Intelligencer