Christmas is a time for celebration, but it also a time for helping those in need. Since 1955, the Archbishop’s Christmas Benefit for Children has supported programs at Catholic Social Services that directly benefit children in poverty, at-risk youth and children living with special needs in the Philadelphia region.
Today, the annual appeal raises thousands of dollars to fund dozens of programs helping more than 16,000 children from all faiths throughout the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Ernie is one of those children. When he found himself in trouble with the law, Ernie and his family feared that he would face prison. Instead, he was placed at St. Gabriel’s Hall, a residential program for adolescents operated by Catholic Social Services. He is now working toward his diploma and learning social and vocational skills.
In addition to St. Gabriel’s Hall, the Archbishop’s Christmas Benefit for Children helps support after-school programs, programs to strengthen families, pre-school for low-income Hispanic and Latino children, prenatal outreach to expecting mothers, summer job training for high school students and residential housing for people with developmental disabilities.
Every December, the Archbishop’s Christmas Benefit for Children invites 400 children to a Christmas celebration. The children participate in a number of festive activities including a Christmas pageant, holiday treats and wrapped presents delivered by Santa and his elves. For many of the children, the experience of joy and love means more than the presents.
Catholic Social Services in Philadelphia is one of several diocesan Catholic charities in Pennsylvania. Collectively, Catholic charities in the Commonwealth serve over 500,000 Pennsylvanians every year in rural, urban and suburban areas, including youth services, health care, homeless shelters and soup kitchens, residential options, family counseling and adoption and foster care services. No matter one’s religion, race, gender or ability to pay, Catholic charities help those in need at more than 375 locations across the state.
For more information on the Archbishop’s Christmas Benefit for Children visit www.archbishopschristmasbenefit.org.