“Let the little children come to me; for such is the Kingdom of Heaven,” Jesus once said. He continues to give us this message today.

Many little children, usually with their mothers, come to Catholic Charities for help. However, last fall a father came in with his two daughters in a stroller. They were darling little girls; one was 3 and the other only a year old. Yet the 3-year-old seemed to be looking out for her little sister, calling out her name and hugging her.

The father had just arrived from out of town after securing custody of the girls. He said that the children’s mother was a drug addict and would not take care of them. So he relocated back to Buffalo, his hometown, where his relatives lived.

One could easily see how devoted he was to the little girls; and how much they loved him. Needless to say, Catholic Charities helped him generously, and he was very grateful.

I suggested a good day-care facility, the cost of which could possibly be covered by the Department of Social Services if he found employment. I also referred him to an employment agency, since he was ready and able to work.

I told him that it was hard for me to imagine how a mother would not care for these darling little girls. However, I know that when a drug addiction takes over, the person usually thinks only about satisfying the habit, and will do almost anything to get the drugs.

I remember, not long ago, how a little boy was shot and killed on the streets in the inner city while walking home from school. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. A man was walking near him, and a man in a car shot through the windows. He killed not only the man, but the boy, too.

The grieving mother came to my office, almost inconsolable. She donated her little boy’s clothes to me so that I could give them to another poor child.

The only thing that gave the grieving mother the strength to go on was her belief that her lost son was now in heaven with Jesus, and that one day she would see him again. She also thanked God that she had two other children, whom she or her husband picked up from school every day, forbidding them to walk home alone.

After some investigation, it appeared that the man who was shot had been involved in drugs and was withholding money from other drug dealers.

Drugs continue to be the downfall of our society, and contribute to the high rate of crime in our city.

I am sure we are all grateful that Mayor Byron Brown and the Police Department are working to increase safety and security measures in Buffalo.

I am left with this thought: Let us all work together to protect our children and prevent them from becoming abused, neglected or even killed.

Catholic Charities is always there to help with counseling, parenting classes, assistance with food, clothing and housing referrals, and information about summer programs and camps.

We do this all for the good of our children, whom Jesus loves. He seems to say to us all: “Let the little children come to you, keep them safe and happy.”