The Mission Committee is happy to announce our choices for the 2017 Christmas Offering. Once again the offering will be divided between one local and one other organization. Both agencies that we have chosen work on our behalf to care for the many people in our community and world who need humanitarian assistance.
The local agency is Gerard Place, a transitional home for homeless, single-parent families. Gerard Place has been working in Buffalo’s east side neighborhoods since 2000 providing housing, education, vocational training, counseling and classes in life skills. More than 90 percent of residents have transitioned to independent housing and have not returned to homelessness. The Gerard Place Community Center will soon add job readiness training and quality childcare to the neighborhood. Our contributions will help empower individuals and families toward self-sufficiency. They have a very ambitious program and you can read more about it.
The second organization sharing our Christmas Offering is One America Appeal, the hurricane relief agency set up by the five living past presidents. Our portion of the collection will be designated to assist our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico. 100 percent of moneys donated to One America Appeal are passed on to local agencies for distribution. In Puerto Rico the distribution agency is Unidos Por Puerto Rico (United for Puerto Rico), a private non-profit with a mission to aid individual and small businesses devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria by assisting with housing, food and health needs. Their goal is rebuilding lives and communities in Puerto Rico.
United for Puerto Rico reviews grant applications from local non-profits and selects recipients. As of Nov. 3, they have distributed a total of $1,598,944 for such projects as home rebuilding, zinc roofs, tarp repair kits, preparation of hot meals, transportation to doctors’ appointments and a mobile clinic for medical emergencies. They assist with distribution of nonperishable goods; so far more than 75,000 items (mostly water, clothing, and food) have been delivered to those in need.
There is no need to repeat the statistics here; we have all seen them. These hurricanes were exceptionally catastrophic. It will take years and billions of dollars to do what needs to be done. All donations, no matter the size, make a difference.
We are all pulled in many directions this time of year and we ask you to carefully consider how you will respond to this request at Christmastime. Keeping in mind the true meaning of the season will surely help. We thank you for your past generosity.