Editor Emeritus - Ed Wilkinson

Need Help from the Bright Christmas Fund?

Parishes or church-related groups that assist the poor and the needy at Christmas may be eligible for a grant from The Tablet’s Bright Christmas Fund.

Last year, we changed the way we distribute donations to our annual Bright Christmas drive. This year, we will continue with that new way of doing things.

Previously, we would distribute grants to the parishes and organizations which we knew would assist those in need. But a couple of pastors approached me and told me that they really didn’t need our help at Christmas because so many other people were generous to them at this time of the year. So, they suggested that we send the funds to other places that might be more in need.

We took them up on that suggestion and asked that anyone who wanted a Bright Christmas donation contact us directly, telling us how they would spend the money. It worked. Parishes and related groups responded, and we send them checks to help them help poor children at Christmas.

In some parishes, the Bright Christmas money was used to buy gifts for the children. In others, it supported a party, and in still other places, it was used to put Christmas dinner on a family’s table.

If your group needs assistance this Christmas, please let us know. Send your request directly to me. Either send a note to me at The Tablet, 1712 Tenth Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11209, or e-mail me at ewilkinson@diobrook.org. Please do not call since I need a written record to process the grant.

The Tablet’s Bright Christmas program was begun more than 40 years ago. It’s a very simple concept. We ask our readers for donations. They send in money. We send the money where it will help people in need.

In recent years, we have been collecting more than $100,000 a year from our readers. We’ve collected as much as $125,000 in one year. Some donors send in hundreds of dollars, but the average donation is about $32 with more than 3,000 readers responding each year to our program.

Even in lean years, as the past few have been, generous people have found the resources to help us.

The requests from pastors and religious leaders have already begun to arrive. We will begin to fill them as quickly as funds start flowing in.

Like the one from Tom Neve, who runs the Reaching Out Community Services in Bensonhurst. The group provides a Christmas Party called Operation Christmas Smiles for more than 600 children of low-income families who are invited. They are the children that are registered with the food pantry program. The event is held at St. Mary, Mother of Jesus Church.

Also, Father Claudio Antecini, pastor of Visitation parish in Red Hook, has asked for our assistance. “We have several families in Red Hook that truly are desperate and need money for food and clothing and perhaps some gifts,” he writes. “The Bright Christmas Fund will truly help financially with their burdens.”

The official start to our “begging” will begin right after Thanksgiving. Until then, we will be collecting the requests for help from the pastors and religious leaders who have traditionally relied on Bright Christmas for help. New requests also are being accepted, although we cannot accept requests from individual persons.

We will help as many people as we possibly can to enjoy the celebration as we relive the birth of Jesus.