Give A Christmas 2021: Donating is good for the soul and for Bucks County

I had the good fortune Wednesday to attend the Bucks County Community College’s holiday gathering. I say good fortune because we actually could get together and actually, physically see good people I hadn’t seen anywhere but a Zoom call in about two years.

We all were there to support the good work done at BCCC and celebrate the important role the school plays in our community.

It was nice to be around people for a good cause, rallying together and putting aside whatever differences we may have on vaccines, masks, gun rights, politics, etc. It’s been a tough couple of years, with far too much anger and vitriol surrounding us and not nearly enough understanding, compassion and empathy for others.

It was good for the soul.

As I walked to the car after the event, I thought about what I was going to write to encourage readers to contribute again to our Give A Christmas program. GAC certainly qualifies as a good-for-the-soul opportunity. Many in our community still are recovering from the flooding, tornadoes, Hurricane Ida remnants, and of course, pandemic effects. We can’t forget those who still are battling back.

The Intelligencer partners with the Bucks County Opportunity Council to collect and distribute monetary donations. The BCOC is one of the pre-eminent nonprofit organizations and helps thousands of Bucks County residents every year, with financial assistance to life-changing opportunities.

Our previous owners, the Calkins family, started the Give A Christmas initiative 64 years ago at the Bucks County Courier Times. They brought it to the Burlington County Times 54 years ago and to The Intelligencer 34 years ago. Our generous community has donated well in excess of $10 million over the years, and more than $3 million by Intelligencer readers.

And Intelligencer readers last year brought in a record $261,000 in the extraordinary year that was 2020.

The average family receiving help has an annual income of $17,597. 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 $165,000 — more in line with previous years to 2020 — to help those in need. We are making a push to get as close to that goal as close to Dec. 15 as possible so families can receive distributions safely before Christmas this year.

We’re about halfway there, so your help would be greatly appreciated now.

Bucks and Montgomery County residents with children age 17 and younger are eligible for consideration 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 or find information daily in our print news pages.

Last year, hundreds 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.

As we’re only about halfway to our goal so far. So your help is absolutely needed again this year.

Readers can find information to submit requests and give donations at our website and find information daily in our print product’s news pages.

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 faith or politics.

We live in a wonderful area and are fortunate. What is unfortunate is that not everyone has the same opportunities or resources and often people get in a bad spot through no fault of their own. That is especially true this year.

I hope the gift of giving, even during these trying times, is in your heart and wallets. So many are in need, especially at this time and in this place. You can, and will, make a difference. The positive energy can only enrich this holiday season.

Shane Fitzgerald is Executive Editor of the Bucks County Courier Times and the State Editor for the USA Today Network’s 14 Pennsylvania media outlets. Contact him at

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