ADVERTISEMENT

Catholic Charities touches all of our lives, whether we use its services or not. It touches our neighbors, friends and strangers and, therefore, affects everyone.

Bishop Richard J. Malone announced a $10.8 million goal for the 2014 appeal, which begins today and runs through April 13, Palm Sunday. Volunteers will work to achieve the final goal throughout the coming months and, if necessary, until the conclusion of Catholic Charities’ fiscal year on June 30.

The 90th annual campaign launched with a $100,000 increase over last year’s $10.7 million goal, which the organization achieved. Malone named St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio) the patron of the 2014 appeal.

This year’s theme is “Heart at work,” and so aptly describes the task of more than 750 appeal volunteers as they reach out to individuals and businesses in the Western New York community.

There are 70 various programs offered by Catholic Charities, one of the region’s largest human services agencies, and 61 sites in Western New York that offer a range of services regardless of the religious affiliation of the recipient. In fact, more than half of the agency’s roughly 137,000 beneficiaries in all eight counties served in the region are not Catholic.

In these continued times of economic hardship, Catholic Charities provides an important resource. The dollars and cents people give for the appeal will go toward behavioral health services, food pantries, basic relief services, counseling for individuals, children and families and the refugee assistance program.

It goes to the quality and integrity of the organization that Catholic Charities has, for the fifth consecutive year, attained the highest possible rating of four stars from Charity Navigator (charitynavigator.org) for transparency and sound fiscal management. Only 4 percent of the charities rated by this organization have received five consecutive four-star ratings.

The appeal always sets high goals and this year is no different. Chair couple Michael and Maureen Pratt said they expect the corporate gifts division to grow and possibly reach $1 million in donations again this year. The average gift at the parish level continues to increase and is now the highest in appeal history.

The appeal allows Catholic Charities to continue helping friends, families, neighbors and, if the day ever comes, the donor.