Buffalo, NY – Catholic Charities is looking for a few more heroes. The Diocese of Buffalo kicked off its 2002 appeal Thursday, "Be a Hero, Give Hope." This year's goal is a record $10 million.
It's been a tough year by any standard. The economy, already weakened by recession, was sent reeling after September 11th. And that has led to many more people in need of financial and crisis assistance. Bishop Henry Mansell says the numbers are up in some areas nearly four-fold. But the Bishop says this is not an appeal about numbers.
"Places that were doing 1,180 meals say eight or nine months ago, are now doing 3,000 or 4,000 meals. So, the numbers are there," Mansell said. "But the fact is when you see them, you also see the people. You see parents, very often single mothers with young children, three, four, five years of age."
More than 130,000 families in the eight county region were served by Catholic Charities last year. To meet the growing need locally, the Diocese says it must raise $10 million - nearly a quarter million more than last year's goal of $9.7 million. Borrowing from a resurrgence in national pride, the charity is looking for some "heroes" to help them do it. Monsignor Henry Gugino, director of Catholic Charities for the Buffalo Diocese, says Western New York is filled with these kinds of heroes.
"These are common, everyday folk, who understand the importance of family, who understand the importance of caring for their children, who understand the importance of helping one another," Gugino said. "This community is used as a benchmark throughout the United States to symbolize giving. When I go someplace people ask me, 'How was your appeal? How did you do that? How does that happen?' And I say, Western New York is just a great place. People care about one another - there's a tremendous spirit."
That tremendous spirit actually put last year's campaign over the top when all receipts were tallied on the final night. Church officials are hoping for the same success for this year's one week campaign that runs from March 17th to the 24th.