The Gift of Christmas
Bringing Hope to Those in Need
Bringing Hope to Those in Need
Brighten a life this Christmas! This is a special opportunity to sponsor an individual or family through the Gift of Christmas Program at Catholic Charities, Diocese of Joliet. The stories below are those of the clients of Catholic Charities. These are the true stories of the hardships each individual has endured this year. (The names of the clients and some details have been changed in order to protect their identities.)
As you will read, many of these families have been devastated by the pandemic this year. Everyone featured here lives in the Diocese of Joliet and receives services from Catholic Charities. Please choose a family/individual to sponsor and then make your donation in any of the following ways:
Visit catholiccharitiesjoliet.org and click DONATE.
Call 815-724-1140 to make a donation over the phone.
Send a check to Catholic Charities/Gift of Christmas: 16555 Weber Rd., Crest Hill, IL 60403
Gigi, 68, lives in a rural area with no phone or access to transportation. She has a degenerative disease and was in poor condition when she connected with Catholic Charities this year. In fact, when her case manager visited her home, Gigi revealed that she hadn’t seen another person in at least a month. She had been rationing her food and had run out four days before her case manager arrived. Gigi cried tears of joy when she received the visit, saying that loneliness and isolation were very difficult for her. She is now working with Catholic Charities’ Aging and Disability Services to improve her situation. Gigi needs so much, but a gift of $150 will provide this kind and resilient woman with food, a radio, warm clothing, hygiene items, and other basics.
Emely, 3, emigrated with her family from El Salvador in search of a better life. The youngest of four children, Emely’s family adores her and considers her a great blessing. She has Down syndrome, a heart murmur, liver issues, and other health concerns. Little Emely has endured several surgeries in her young life. Her parents don’t speak English and have not been able to secure good jobs in the U.S. despite professional backgrounds in their home country. A gift of $300 will help provide Christmas gifts for Emely and her loving and hard-working family.
Sofia is a single mother who cares for her 60-year-old father in addition to her own five-year-old daughter. Sofia’s father needs care due to serious medical conditions. Although Sofia works, her father’s medication is so expensive that the family often goes without basic items in order to pay for the prescriptions. Sofia is worried that she won’t be able to afford any gifts for her daughter this Christmas. A donation of $200 will ensure that there are clothes, shoes, toys, and a coat under the tree this year.
Lucia, 45, has endured terrible tragedy this year. All members of her multi-generational household were diagnosed with COVID-19. When Lucia’s infant granddaughter passed away in the home, her own young children were removed from the household pending an investigation of the death. Once it was determined that the child passed away from complications of COVID-19 and sudden infant death syndrome, Lucia’s children were returned to her. The pain and grief of losing a grandchild and being temporarily separated from her children has taken a toll. Lucia cries often, but remains focused on her goals: finishing her GED, learning more English, and finding a job. In the meantime, she is busy helping her children with e-learning. Your $200 donation will help Lucia provide clothing, shoes, and coats for her family this winter.
Teresa and Angel’s family have been hit hard by the pandemic. The family participates in Catholic Charities’ Doula Program and recently welcomed a baby boy. The baby only has one kidney and requires close monitoring and may need surgery. Shortly after the baby was born, Angel contracted COVID-19 at work, and the virus quickly spread through the house impacting each member of the family. Thankfully, the family has recovered and Angel has returned to work. A gift of $300 will provide Christmas gifts for this family that has had such a difficult year.
Edward, 60, has struggled with homelessness since 1980s. To escape an abusive environment when he was young, Edward joined the circus. However, he didn’t earn enough to support himself and became homeless. For many years, Edward lived in a garage that belonged to a friend. Last year, he was accepted into Catholic Charities’ New Beginnings Program for chronically homeless men and moved into a studio apartment of his own. A gift of $150 will provide clothing and work boots for Edward.
Antonio and his wife have six children. Earlier this year, Antonio became gravely ill with COVID-19 and required several weeks in the hospital. During his recovery, the family was left without an income. Although Antonio has returned to work, his body has not fully recovered from COVID. A gift of $350 will provide winter clothing and shoes for this struggling family.
Paul arrived at Catholic Charities’ Daybreak Center homeless shelter when he had nowhere else to turn. Paul has a developmental disability, which made him vulnerable to financial abuse from a family member. When he arrived at Daybreak, Paul’s bank account had been completely depleted. With help from Catholic Charities, Paul lives independently for the first time. He is happy and excited to be on his own. A $150 donation will provide Paul with winter clothing and boots.
Chelsea has faced many challenges since the birth to her son last December. The baby became very ill and required emergency surgery. Shortly thereafter, Chelsea’s husband unexpectedly left the family. For income, Chelsea babysat for several children in her home, but she was unable to continue during COVID shutdowns. Although she’s had a difficult year, Chelsea hasn’t given up. She’s looking for work and committed to supporting her family. A gift of $250 will provide bunk beds for this family to create a bit of space in the cramped bedroom.
David, 41, is battling cancer, but continues to work in order to support his family. Reduced work hours have had a devastating impact on the family’s finances. They struggle to pay bills and visit food pantries. The parents have two children who participate in Catholic Charities’ Head Start Program. They take every opportunity to help at school and greatly appreciate the education that their children receive. A $200 donation will provide diapers, coats, and boots for this family.
Mercedes and her husband have two small children. She stays at home while her husband works full-time. When the family welcomed their daughter three years ago, they learned that she has many severe health issues, including a serious heart condition, which requires 24/7 care. The love in this family is extraordinary. Recently, Mercedes enrolled in classes to learn English and hopes to find a full-time job once her daughter is old enough to attend school. A $250 donation will provide this family with a laptop or tablet for the toddler’s virtual therapy sessions during the pandemic.
Jessica is a single mother of two teenagers who suffered significant injuries at the hands of an abuser several years ago. Although she had a good job in the medical field, she is no longer able to work due to her injuries and most likely will never be able to return. The family became homeless over the summer and stayed in a motel before entering Catholic Charities’ Transitional Housing Program. Today, Jessica is trying to find a job she can do from home and is grateful for the help her children have offered as she recovers. This family shares an old laptop, which isn’t working well now that school is attended via remote learning. A gift of $200 would help this family afford a new laptop that works well for school.
Carlos and Lupe moved to the U.S. to provide a better future for their children. Carlos is a cook at two restaurants to provide for his family working double shifts. Lupe looks forward to working again when their children are a bit older. Their three young children are bright and motivated. This couple prioritizes education, and the children love attending school — even over Zoom during the pandemic. A gift of $250 will help provide a tablet or laptop for e-learning, a coffee maker, and a stove.
Dozens of additional stories can be found at catholiccharitiesjoliet.org. Please email Maggie Snow at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. If Catholic Charities receives enough donations to satisfy the needs of all of the clients listed, additional donations will be applied to the annual Christmas Appeal to ensure that every client Catholic Charities serves will be taken care of year-round. On behalf of those we serve, thank you and may God bless you for your generosity to share your gifts this Christmas.