Vermont Catholic Charities Inc. aids vulnerable families in Vermont all year, but for the past 25 years the organization has invested extra energy and care to support families during the holiday season.

Beginning in November, Vermont families can fill out applications to receive aid through the annual Advent Program that provides VISA gift cards and Hannaford or Price Chopper gift cards to help families get through the holiday season, along with assistance with utilities and rent.

The amount of aid that Vermont Catholic Charities is able to provide through the holiday program depends upon the success of the corresponding Advent Appeal which runs each November.

This year, the organization will distribute more than $50,000 to 250 families (totaling more than 900 people) throughout Vermont.

The statewide program operates out of Vermont Catholic Charities’ offices in South Burlington and Rutland and through Catholic parishes throughout the state.

The Advent Program helps people like Jill and Patrick, who have four children under the age of 13. Jill suffers from a chronic illness which keeps her homebound except for medical appointments. Her husband, when he is not working, is her primary caregiver. Vermont Catholic Charities has helped this family through the Advent Program for the last two winters. Jill and Patrick have said that the help from Vermont Catholic Charities at Christmas helps put smiles on their children’s faces and helps the family have a wonderful Christmas.

Vermont Catholic Charities’ Advent Program also helps people like Michelle, a single mother of three children. She works fulltime, but she struggles to cover rent, utilities and food throughout the year so there is never anything left over for Christmas. She is grateful to Vermont Catholic Charities for helping her and her children have food and gifts for Christmas.

Monica and Craig Koskiniemi, parishioners of Christ the King-St. Anthony Parish in South Burlington, gave to the Advent Appeal this year in conjunction with three other local families instead of exchanging gifts at the holiday party the four families have together.

“We chose to give to the Vermont Catholic Charities’ Advent Appeal because the organization is all about helping the community and those that are truly in need, not just during the Advent season, but also year round,” said Monica. “Vermont Catholic Charities greets people with a friendly face and treats them with dignity and worth. This is what people need during the Christmas season.”