FORT WAYNE — “I’m not working right now because of COVID,” said Jesse. “And I really want Isaiah’s first Christmas to be special. This really helps a lot!”
Jesse is a participant in the Catholic Charities Education Creates Hope and Opportunity Program, part of the agency’s pro-life services. The program provides teen moms with high school-based support and transition assistance to college. Jesse and her 8-month-old son are also recipients in this year’s Share the Warmth of Christmas Appeal, which brings warm clothing, educational toys and much-needed financial assistance to families in the diocese.
“Because of the pandemic, there are many out of work through the Christmas season,” said Gloria Whitcraft, CEO of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. “As a result, we are seeing requests for material assistance go even higher than usual as the cold weather sets in.”
Because of the persistence of the pandemic, CCFWSB launched its Share the Warmth of Christmas Appeal to aid those affected by COVID-19 and others in need. The agency has been soliciting donations of gift cards, winter coats and financial contributions to assist the thousands in the area who are still out of work, homeless or low-income.
Jasmine and her family are also Share the Warmth recipients. Like Jesse, she is a participant in the ECHO Program. She too has had to suspend her education because of the pandemic. Her work hours were also curtailed because of COVID-19, so family finances are tight. Fortunately, she and her children -— Mi-heirah, age 1, and Kannin, age 3 — are eligible to receive coats and toys from Catholic Charities.
“This is such a blessing,” said Jasmine. “These gifts will bring great joy to my kids this Christmas.”
For some recipients, Share the Warmth goes beyond coats and toys. Qualifying households are also eligible for rent and utilities assistance so they can avoid eviction. Resources for this assistance come from separate COVID-19 related funds.
“Thanks to the generosity of donors and funders, we are able to pay rent and utilities directly to the landlord or utility,” said Whitcraft. “This way we can be assured that the vulnerable are housed and warm during the cold weather,”
Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades added that Share the Warmth and ECHO are consistent with the goals of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Walking with Moms in Need initiative, a year of service in which Catholic parishes and communities “walk in the shoes” of local pregnant and parenting women in need so they can learn how to help moms who are in difficult circumstances.
“In keeping with Walking with Moms in Need, we are always striving to lend support to pregnant and parenting women,” said Bishop Rhoades. “So it’s very important for the Church’s charitable arm, Catholic Charities, to be providing pro-life services such as ECHO and Share the Warmth of Christmas.”
CCFWSB will spend the remaining days before Christmas distributing goods to low-income families from its three locations in the diocese: Fort Wayne, Auburn and South Bend.
Because of a great response, CCFWSB is no longer accepting coats, toys and other material donations. However, cash donations are still much appreciated because many families across the diocese will continue to need financial assistance into the new year. To make financial contributions, please call 260-422-5625 or visit: https://www.ccfwsb.org
“The response has been overwhelming,” said Whitcraft. “We are blessed to have so many good and generous supporters across the diocese.”
Editor’s note: Clients’ last names were not used to protect privacy.
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend thanks the people and parishes of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend for their generosity this holiday season. Because of this support the diocese, through Catholic Charities, has able to serve 22,564 people this past year, just as Christ has called all Christians to do. As the human service arm of the Church, Catholic Charities offers 20 different services to 14 counties to aid people on their journey toward self-sufficiency, including:
- Alleviating poverty
- Healing mind, body and spirit
- Building strong futures
- Developing financial security
To learn more about Catholic Charities’ impact in the diocese, visit EradicatePoverty.org.
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