Making Spirits Bright in the Advent Season

As another Christmas season comes upon us, one of the things The Tablet is blessed to run each year is the Bright Christmas Fund. The fund is one way The Tablet community can help those in need and to make sure that every child has a gift to open on Christmas morning. This week marks the launch of the 2023 campaign. 

The history of the fund goes back decades. In the 1960s, Don Zirkle, then editor of The Tablet, saw the financial struggles many families faced trying to make the holidays happy — and the Bright Christmas Fund was born. 

Nearly 60 years later, while it would be thrilling to report that the need has diminished, it has not. 

Families continue to struggle in 2023. Society may have moved past the pandemic, but its effects still linger. While COVID cases remain low and the job market is slowly recovering, record inflation is now eating away at incomes. 

The rising cost of essentials like housing, food, and energy, as well as the skyrocketing cost of health insurance, are the biggest drags on a family’s bottom line. Overall, the cost of living is higher this year than last year. 

Mothers and fathers are praying for relief so that they can put food on the table and provide for their children. For six decades, readers of The Tablet have opened up their hearts and wallets to meet this need. Some readers send in a few dollars, while others make much larger contributions. What matters is that The Tablet has readers who joyfully contribute whatever they can afford. It all adds up! 

Last year, The Tablet heard from many of the parishes and ministries that received funds. They were extremely grateful for the support they received to run their Christmas programs. You may remember reading their thank you letters published in the Readers’ Forum. 

For example, the students at Ss. Joachim and Anne School in Queens have always opened up their hearts to those in need, and with migrants coming into the Diocese of Brooklyn in increasing numbers, the Queens Village school made a special effort to open its doors to the newly arrived children. 

Maria Garces, who volunteers as a religious education coordinator at Shrine Church of Our Lady of Solace in Coney Island, said the parish received Bright Christmas funds that helped buy toys for 142 Catholic Sunday school students. 

And thanks also go to generous donors like Bay Ridge-born and raised William McKenna. The former president, chairman, and CEO of Ridgewood Savings Bank has given generously to Bright Christmas for over 40 years. 

In reality, the fund does much more than provide gifts for children. In 2022, a portion of readers’ donations went to food pantries like Brooklyn’s Reaching-Out Community Services and St. Francis Food Pantries and Shelters. 

Donors get a lot of bang for their buck when choosing to give to the Bright Christmas Fund, as the money raised goes to parishes and Catholic ministries in our community. 

If you’re a long-time donor, the staff at The Tablet is grateful for your support. If you haven’t contributed before, as Advent approaches, please keep us in mind. 

Last year the Bright Christmas Fund raised $120,000. Our goal this year is to raise $125,000. 

Keep reading The Tablet to learn how the campaign is progressing and discover the wonderful things that happen throughout Brooklyn and Queens because of your generosity. 

May the light of Jesus shine upon you this Christmas season.

To donate click here: Bright Christmas Fund