The 2017 Vermont Catholic Charities Inc. annual Advent Appeal helped 293 families. The appeal raised $89,309 from 1,072 donors, up from the previous year’s $69,142 from 717 donors.

“We at Vermont Catholic Charities continue to see an increase in assistance need, therefore we hope to meet or exceed the amount that was raised last year” for this year’s appeal, said Mary Beth Pinard, executive director of Vermont Catholic Charities.

This is the 24th year of the Advent Appeal, Vermont Catholic Charities’ main fundraiser of the year to support individuals and families during the holiday season and throughout the year.

In the past five years, $276,400 has been given out to support individuals and families through the Advent Appeal.

Walk-in clients receive help with food cards and/or VISA gift cards. For the requests that come through the parishes, the help depends on the request. These include food cards and VISA cards but also have included assistance with utility bills, winter heating fuel and rent.

Lisa is a single parent of two teenagers who is taking care of her mother and had to reduce her work hours to care for her mother after a medical emergency. When she received a food card and gift card for her family she commented, “Thank you so much for blessing our family in our time of need.”

Persons seeking assistance though this program can reach out to their pastor or rectory; application forms are available at every parish in the Diocese of Burlington. Last year, 22 parishes submitted requests (74 applications; 237 adults and children helped).

Those who do not belong to a parish can call Vermont Catholic Charities in South Burlington or Rutland. “We do work with Salvation Army and other agencies to compare lists to ensure clients are only helped by one agency. This ensures more people can be helped,” Pinard said.

Funds left over from the Advent Appeal will be put into the Vermont Catholic Charities Emergency Assistance Fund to ensure help for people all year long.

The emergency aid program operates out of Vermont Catholic Charities offices in

South Burlington and Rutland. If someone needs assistance, they can call the closest office to make an appointment with an emergency aid coordinator or work through their parish office to complete an application.

Last year 1,033 families were helped through the Emergency Aid Program.

“Our emergency aid program is essential to our neighbors who are experiencing unexpected financial hardships due to unanticipated medical bills, reduced employment hours, increased housing costs and/or utility and heating expenses,” Pinard said. “We help keep people in their homes, avoid utility disconnects and help with food cards and goodwill vouchers for essentials such as food, hygiene items, clothing and blankets.”

In the past five years, nearly $406,500 has been distributed through the Emergency Aid Program.

For more information, call 802-658-6111.

—Originally published in the Winter 2018 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.