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Catholic Charities Kicks Off 2012 Fundraiser

NORRISTOWN — While a stagnant economy and government cuts have made it more difficult for charities to raise sufficient funding, the demand has grown in recent years to help those in need.

Montgomery County Family Service Center in East Norriton, which is supported by Catholic Social Services and receives funding from the Catholic Charities Appeal, works daily to assist individuals and families struggling financially.

Since the recession began in 2008, the Family Service Center has seen an increasing number of people who’ve hit hard times for the first time in their lives because of a job loss or a failed business.

“We’re seeing formerly self-sufficient people coming through our doors who don’t know where to begin,” said Kathy Emery, Catholic Social Services’ director of community-based and specialized services. “That first call is very difficult for people.”

The local services center, located at the corner of East Johnson Highway and New Hope Street, has a small staff and is grateful for essential help it receives from dozens of volunteers, she said.

On average, Catholic Social Services, which also serves Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Philadelphia counties, receives 20,000 calls for assistance annually.

“In the Montgomery County office (Family Service Center), not including the food cupboard, there were nearly 3,400 calls for assistance,” Emery said.

Besides offering food, the center has free social worker assistance, parenting sessions, a social group for senior citizens and counseling services.

Emery said tightening government budgets means the nonprofit organization’s county agencies have less financial aid to subsidize rent and utility bills for clients.

“They’re all very strapped,” she said.

As it has done in the past, the social services agency looks to the annual Catholic Charities Appeal for crucial funding.

On Thursday, The Archdiocese of Philadelphia kicked off its 2012 CCA initiative with the goal of raising $10 million this year, according to a press release from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The major fundraising effort is the single largest in the archdiocese supporting Catholic Charities.

Emery said 92 cents of every dollar donated to the charities goes directly to those in need.
Twice a week, food is delivered to Catholic Social Services locations from Acme, B.J.’s Warehouse and Walmart through Philabundance. Weekly deliveries come from Wegmans and Bottom Dollar as well as Starbucks.

“We don’t want to see anyone leave our site hungry,” Emery said.

With operating costs of $116 million in 2011, Catholic Social Services provided youth services for nearly 2,000 children, supplied more than 1,000 beds every night for the homeless, and assisted hundreds of senior citizens, immigrants and families. About $20 million comes from donations, CCA and an archdiocesan subsidy, according to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

To contribute to the charities, visit their websites, www.catholicsocialservicesphilly.org and www.catholiccharitiesappeal.org. Or call the East Norriton center at 610-279-7372.

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