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Parishioners across Western New York took special collections, hosted basket raffles, bowl-a-thons and bake sales, and pulled out all the stops for the 90th annual Appeal Week, a concentrated push for donations to the Buffalo Diocese’s Catholic Charities that ended Sunday.

“The people of Western New York are amazingly generous. It’s unbelievable,” said Bishop Richard J. Malone of the Diocese of Buffalo. “Even the people who really have to stretch are willing to help because they believe in the cause.”

About 35 staff members and volunteers filled the Catholic Charities Montante Administrative Center on Sunday to collect and process what is expected to total about $1.2 million in donations amassed during the week.

Dorothy Meindl, of Cheektowaga, a member of St. Bernard Church in Buffalo, made a special trip Sunday, traveling with her church’s pastor and another volunteer to drop off the proceeds from the parish’s “Coins of love” drive.

“We do it to help those less-fortunate,” Meindl said. “I’m glad for what I have, and I know there are people who go without.”

The money raised through the appeal funds Catholic Charities’ 70 programs serving the counties of Western New York.

Catholic Charities programming provides basic human needs services – such as emergency food, shelter, clothing and medicine for those in need; counseling and support for individuals, families and children; addiction services; and government-contracted services such as domestic violence training for police officers and refugee resettlement services.

Even the government contracts often rely on matching funds or do not cover the entire cost of the programming provided, so outside help is necessary to fill crucial needs in the community, officials said.

For all the people Catholic Charities serves throughout Western New York – more than 138,000 last year – it still just “scratches the surface,” the bishop said.

“The need is great. The need is real, and people want to respond to that need,” Malone said.

“It’s what we want to do and what we have to do as followers of Christ.”

Catholic Charities begins soliciting donations in January and wraps up in June, with a total appeal goal of $10.8 million – which represents about a quarter of the charity’s total budget.

It had raised $8.3 million by early Sunday afternoon and expected to reached about $8.7 million by the end of the day.

“We do work with poor people that no one else will fund,” said Dennis C. Walczyk, CEO of Catholic Charities.

Though the majority of those served by Catholic Charities are not Catholic, more than 90 percent of the money it raises comes from Catholic people in Catholic churches, said Sister Mary McCarrick, diocesan director of Catholic Charities.

“The number of people in Catholic churches is shrinking,” she said. “To continue to provide the level of service we’re providing, we need to enlist the services of people outside the Catholic community.”

Donations are also being accepted online at CCWNY.org.

email: schristmann@buffnews.com