PROSPECT HEIGHTS — Even after moving from New York City to the suburban town of Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, John and Eileen Gallo remain among The Tablet’s Bright Christmas fund’s most dedicated supporters. And it’s something they look forward to every year.
The Gallos lived in Brooklyn for 60 years before moving to Newtown Square a decade ago. That is where the oldest of their three daughters lives. “We wanted to be close to our grandchildren, so we made the move,” John explained.
The Gallos had been members of Good Shepherd Parish in Marine Park; he had served as the assistant comptroller for the Diocese of Brooklyn. When Italian-Catholic John Gallo married Irish-Catholic Eileen Kennedy, they originally settled on the same block where John grew up. They lived in the same house for 55 years and worshipped together at Good Shepherd until they moved.
“We always said to our three daughters, when they were teenagers, that whoever is the first one to have kids will probably get us when we retire, and that’s why we moved here,” John commented from his Newtown Square home base.
Prior to relocating with her accountant husband, Eileen was a teacher in the Catholic school system. She taught for six years at St. Saviour High School, Park Slope; she served as a substitute teacher at Good Shepherd Catholic Academy for eight years, and at the now-shuttered Catherine McAuley High School, East Flatbush, for 17 years.
With The Tablet’s 2021 Bright Christmas campaign underway, the Gallos are once again supporting the tradition that has spanned more than half a century. The campaign strives to help those less fortunate and ensure that no child goes without a gift on Christmas.
While John acknowledges he supports other Catholic charities closer to his new home in Pennsylvania, Bright Christmas holds a special place in his heart. “It’s just a wonderful program where every dollar goes where it’s supposed to go,” Gallo said. “And people who receive these funds are so deserving.”
The Gallos are also proud to support a program that helps the Diocese of Brooklyn. “It means a great deal to us that many of the beneficiaries of the fund are in Brooklyn and Queens,” Gallo said. “After all, these are all stories from home, and that’s why we continue to support it.”
Last year, the Bright Christmas campaign raised over $100,000 for diocesan and parish-based groups, as well as religious education programs, that have requested resources they can pass along to others.
Over the past 10 years, the campaign has received and distributed more than $1 million. This has been used to purchase Christmas presents, food, materials that teach the faith, and other necessities. John and Eileen Gallo have opened their hearts and wallets for decades while sharing their many blessings with those in need. John believes that he is far from alone as a former Brooklynite who still contributes because Bright Christmas is a connection to home.
While the couple also supports their parish and Catholic Charities of Philadelphia, they also consider The Tablet a lifeline that keeps them informed about life in their old neighborhood. “It’s been a continuum that I get The Tablet and I see what’s going on in Brooklyn,” Gallo said. “It’s like the rhythm of the year. I get to read about the Mount Carmel feast, the St. Patrick’s Day parade, which I hope will happen again next year.”
He explained, “I love reading the opening-of-schools issue, and before you know it, it’s the graduation issue. Simply said, it provides us with an attachment back to our home in Brooklyn — there’s just no place like it.”
Editor’s note: Parishes and diocesan agencies may make requests for funds by writing about their needs to firstname.lastname@example.org