The 94th Catholic Charities Appeal in the Diocese of Buffalo is officially underway. This year's drive was formally launched inside the offices of one of its many diverse services. This year's Appeal has a familiar goal, while this year's theme recognizes what the bishop recognized as an increasingly polarized society and volatile world.
Once again, the appeal goal is $11 million dollars.
"That may sound like a familiar number to you, and you're right," said Bishop Richard Malone of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. "This ambitious goal, which is the same as the past two appeals, recognizes the challenges with raising such a significant amount of money while also realizing the need for our programs and services is great."
Those services include family counseling, assistance with acquiring mental illness and substance abuse treatment, and helping with basic human needs including food and clothing.
Catholic Charities also administers the federally-funded nutrition assistance program for women, infants and children known as WIC in Erie, Niagara and Chautauqua Counties. Announcement of this year's goal was held inside new WIC offices on Harlem Road, near Broadway, in the Town of Cheektowaga.
Catholic Charities funding and services, more recently, aided an estimated 500 people who relocated to Western New York from Puerto Rico as the result of Hurricane Maria, according to officials. In all, an estimated 153,000 people were served by Catholic Charities last year within the Diocese of Buffalo.
"It works with people of all faiths. Indeed, over half the beneficiaries are not of the Catholic faith," said Robert Bennett, Chancellor Emeritus of the New York State Board of Regents who, along with his family, is chairing this year's drive. "It is very comprehensive in its services."
This year's theme is "Love Your Neighbor." Bishop Malone noted the increasing polarization of American society and rising volatility of the broader world.
"In such an environment, we reflect on our duties to others, to society and to humanity," he said. "And we question how to live a meaningful life in an age of global uncertainty and instability."
Appeal Week will be held March 18 to 25. The campaign will continue through June 30.