Share the Journey — Celebrating Christmas with joy and dignity

By Sister Michele Intravia

Each year during the Christmas season, Catholic Charities sponsors families in need. Our Sister Visitor Center staff and volunteers work to provide these families not only with necessities like food, clothing and toiletries, but also with toys, games and books to help create a joyful holiday in a household struggling to make ends meet.

I’d like to share the story of one such family, whose experience exemplifies our mission to strengthen, restore hope and provide a sense of security for those we serve.

Last year, a mother of three young children came to Sister Visitor Center to get assistance with her LG&E bill. The woman was moving into a new apartment, where she and her family were seeking a fresh start. She needed to transfer her LG&E account to the new address, but that wasn’t possible until she paid off an outstanding balance — something she could not afford to do. We provided emergency assistance that enabled her to pay the bill and get her family settled in their new home.

As the holidays approached, a Catholic Charities case manager suggested this mother and her children — ages 6, 8 and 12 — would make ideal recipients of our Christmas assistance program. The mom was grateful when contacted by a volunteer who wished to sponsor the family for Christmas, but when asked about toys her children might want, she was reluctant to request any such items.

Eventually the mother shed more light on their dire situation: The family only had one bed, which was used by her six-year-old daughter, meaning she and her two sons slept on the floor. They didn’t have a table or chairs, dishes, pots or pans, or even a stove or microwave. She could not cook a hot meal for her kids.

Given the circumstances, it’s not surprising this client could not fathom asking for Christmas presents. How could she worry about toys and games when her family lacked the basic essentials to eat, sleep and lead a healthy life?

Catholic Charities was able to furnish this family’s home with a kitchen table and chairs, new beds and mattresses, and much more. The family that sponsored them for Christmas took care of all the bedding, kitchen wares, a microwave, food, clothing — and toys. It was clear a weight had been lifted. Life was going to be better. Her kids would get a hot meal and a good night’s sleep before heading to school. There was hope. There was a light at the end of the tunnel.

And on Christmas morning, these three children opened gifts in their new apartment that now felt like home — a gift made possible by Catholic Charities and the many compassionate people who share in our journey to serve those in need.

With the Christmas season on the horizon, we would like to encourage others to share in our mission to help the poor and vulnerable in our community. One way to help is by donating. During the months of November and December, Sister Visitor Center is seeking donations of new clothing and toys. We require these items to be new so that our clients may experience Christmas with joy and dignity — the same as all of us.

You can make a difference. You can share the journey.

Donations can be dropped off at 2235 W. Market Street on weekdays from 8:45 a.m. to noon or 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Ursuline Sister of Mount St. Joseph Michele Intravia is the director of Catholic Charities’ Sister Visitor Center, an emergency assistance program that provides basic human needs.

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