Sometimes, a cord of wood is enough. “What an amazing blessing. Thank you for helping us in our time of need,” commented Claire, a divorced mother of two teenagers, after receiving help through the annual Vermont Catholic Charities Advent Appeal to heat their house during the winter.

Mary Beth Pinard, executive director of Vermont Catholic Charities Inc., explained that the program of Vermont Catholic Charities helps “alleviate some of the financial stresses for our friends and neighbors who may be experiencing hardship this holiday season.”

Through this appeal the agency helps to bring some joy with food, gift cards and help with other expenses so that people can enjoy the Christmas season. “The populations we serve are some of the more vulnerable in our communities including the sick, elderly and children,” she said.

Vermont Catholic Charities raised $81,000 in the last appeal and in 2019 helped 2,000 adults and 1,500 children through the Advent Appeal and Emergency Aid Program.

Through the VCC Emergency Aid Program, monies from the annual appeal also help vulnerable families and individuals throughout the year.

Among them are Marie and John who live in subsidized senior housing. Last year, after they experienced continued medical issues and expenses, they were unable to keep up with their rent and received an eviction notice.

“They approached VCC and, through the Advent Appeal, we were able to cover the amount needed to avoid eviction, and they were able to negotiate a budget plan to cover the balance. Marie and John were so happy to know that they would celebrate Christmas in their apartment,” said Pinard, who noted that Vermont Catholic Charities continues to see an increase in the number of people needing assistance and in the amount of assistance needed.

The majority of the assistance to those in need, she said, is in the form of food cards and VISA gift cards. Through the Advent parish referral program, help can be offered for fuel, utility bills, back rent and other needs that the parishes request. Parishioners who need assistance can reach out to their pastor or rectory team. Application forms are available at every parish in the state. Last year, 22 parishes submitted requests with 74 applications, and 237 adults and children were helped.“

People are truly appreciative and humbled by the assistance received through the Advent Appeal. Our emergency aid volunteers hear more and more that people are finding it more difficult to make ends meet. … [T]his help above all provides hope to people,” Pinard stressed.

For information or help call 877-250-4099 or 800-851-8379.

Donate by mail: 55 Joy Drive, South Burlington, VT 05403

Online: vermontcatholic.org/adventappeal.

This year’s Advent Appeal deadline is Dec. 31, but donations are appreciated all year. Make checks payable to Vermont Catholic Charities Inc.

—Originally published in the Winter 2019 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.

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