As the first contributions to The Tablet’s Bright Christmas drive begin to flow into the office, so too do the requests from local church leaders. Like the Brooklyn priest who wrote to me this week.
“I have been helping out some rather needy families with children all year and have run out of personal money,” he writes. “I could use some help to make sure these families and children have a Bright Christmas.”
Rest assured, that priest will receive one of the first checks from the Bright Christmas coffers that are made possible because of our readers.
Likewise, Tom Neve, executive director of Reaching Out Community Services on New Utrecht Ave. in Brooklyn, will get a check from our fund. He’s been helping out the needy in his area for years now with his storefront operation. Year-round he operates a food pantry there where locals can come in and “shop” for the food that goes on their tables.
But on Saturday, Dec. 16, Neve will be running his Operation Christmas Smiles event at St. Mary Mother of Jesus parish. Santa and his elves will be giving toys to more than 600 low-income children who are registered with the organization.
“The children will see a spectacular parade of characters along with a magic show, arcade games, prizes, face painting, balloon characters, food and refreshments and snacks,” explains Neve.
“I’m so grateful for your past support and it has truly been our lifeline to conduct such an event for children of low-income families.”
Neve also plans a second event when Santa visits his facility to provide gifts to the children who do not make it into the first party.
A local religious education director tells me about some of the people the parish wants to help this Christmas. High on the list is a young, single mother, currently living in a shelter. She works at a 99-cent store and is trying to become a medical receptionist. Her son is eight. He likes super heroes and Star Wars. Her mother (the grandmother) is also in a shelter, but not the same one.
Then there’s the family with three kids in Catholic schools. “Their mother cried when she heard we had a turkey for them, so you could imagine their needs are great,” she said.
So many of our neighbors are living on the edge, from paycheck to paycheck, if there is one. We would never think it unless we heard these stories from the helpers on the frontlines. They are the people that your donation to Bright Christmas helps.
Our program is simple. We ask you for a donation and then we send those monies to local parish and agency heads in our own communities to assist people in need this Christmas. No child should be forgotten at Christmas. That’s been the motto of Bright Christmas since it began more than 50 years ago.
To be a part of our Bright Christmas team, simply send a your check to The Tablet’s Bright Christmas, 1712 Tenth Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215.