Requests for funds from The Tablet’s Bright Christmas campaign are arriving every day. Those letters make clear the reason why we do this every year.
Just this week, I received this letter from Sister Tesa Fitzgerald, C.S.J., founder and executive director of Hour Children, a program that helps women in prison and former women inmates as well as their children.
“For many years, Hour Children has been the grateful recipient of the readers of The Tablet through your Bright Christmas Fund. Once again, I am writing with the hope that you will be able to help us make Christmas 2018 a happy and blest one for the prison impacted families we have been called to serve.
“Since 1986, Hour Children has provided housing, workforce education, child care and mentoring to formerly incarcerated women and their children. Beginning as a home for children who have lost their mothers to prison, in the past 32 years we have grown exponentially in response to the needs of prison families.
“I ask you and the readers of The Tablet to make it possible for us to purchase gifts to share with our mothers and children at our upcoming Christmas party. Each year, nearly 300 mothers and children in the community, along with hundreds more in Bedford Hills and Taconic, count on us to make it possible for them to share a happy holiday. Your kind donation will help us to secure clothing, toys, books, household items, and toiletries for mothers and children who have so little and are truly among God’s forgotten people.”
This is one of the programs and initiatives we support with the funds received through the Bright Christmas campaign. The purpose is to help children celebrate the birth of Our Lord, to participate in the joy of this most joyous season. But for the people who donate to the campaign, it is also a way to prepare ourselves to receive the poor, vulnerable Baby Jesus into our hearts.
The Gospel today reminds us of the essence of this season in which we wait for the Messiah. John the Baptist is the essential character of the Advent season. He is the precursor of Jesus, announcing the imminent coming of the Messiah.
In this Sunday’s Gospel, his followers ask him how to prepare for the long-waited event. We, too, should ask ourselves that question. John the Baptist gives us the answer:
“The crowds asked John the Baptist, ‘What should we do?’ He said to them in reply, ‘Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.’”
I invite you to follow the advice of St. John the Baptist and share what you have with the less fortunate through our campaign.
The Bright Christmas Campaign does not accept requests from individuals. We make grants to parish groups and other leaders in the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens who ask us for help. If you need assistance to help kids in your area, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you haven’t sent your donation yet, please send it today. Simply make out your check to The Tablet’s Bright Christmas and mail it to me at The Tablet, 1712 Tenth Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11215.