Give A Christmas 2021: There’s still time to donate to help families in need

It’s time to put the Christmas spirit into action.

Amid the economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and 39-year-high inflation, people throughout Bucks and eastern Montgomery counties could you use a helping hand financially to make the season bright — or even just to keep the lights on and put food on the table.

The Intelligencer’s Give A Christmas, an annual holiday season charitable initiative, is here to help those neighbors in need. It can only do so, however, if people donate to the fund. And with the holiday period nearing its zenith, now is the time to step up and give.

“If every donor would repeat their gift from last year, we would make our fundraising goal,” said Joseph Cuozzo, director of development at the Bucks County Opportunity Council, which administers the fund in partnership with The Intelligencer. “It’s not an exaggeration to say that every dollar donated makes a difference.”

As of this week, generous locals had donated more than $101,000 to Give A Christmas — not a bad tally, but still short of the 2021 seasonal goal of $165,000.

The money given so far already has been put to good use. More than 250 households have received assistance from the BCOC. The Souderton-based Keystone Opportunity Center, which receives 10% of the Give A Christmas proceeds, has also used the donations to provide help to some 250 households/families. More are being helped every day.

Support includes everything from assistance with buying gifts and groceries, to paying for rent, medicine, bills and utility expenses. Notably, money not dispersed during the holidays is used to help locals in need throughout the year with everything from food and rent to employment assistance.

Recipients reside in Central and Upper Bucks County, as well as Eastern Montgomery County and the North Penn and Indian Valley communities.

Malcom Friend, director of resource development at the Keystone Opportunity Center, said that he wishes he could share the “smiles, tears and words of gratitude” from Give A Christmas beneficiaries with everyone considering donating and those who have already donated.

One client, for instance, choked up as she told Friend how the support would enable her to add to the food she can put on her table for family during the holidays and allow her to buy her grandchildren small gifts.

“It’s truly a Godsend,” the woman said. “It’s so nice to know that somebody cares. I am thankful for everyone who takes time in their busy lives to help make the holidays feel normal.”

Just like that grandmother, every recipient has their own story.

There’s the woman who just beat breast cancer and is working full time, but still can’t quite catch up amid the mounting bills and soaring cost of virtually everything. There’s the family where a husband recently lost his job and the wife is disabled, choking income to a trickle. There’s the woman who lost hours at work due to COVID-19 and can’t make ends meet.

These are all real people — neighbors in the community — who have benefitted from Give A Christmas. Donors say that local element, combined with the knowledge one is putting some good into the world, is what compels them to support the fund.

“People want to give back to things they care about, and they understand that Give A Christmas will directly benefit people close to home,” said one donor. “What influences people is the heart.”

— Chris Ruvo, Special to The Intelligencer

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