BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Many people find the holidays unusually difficult each year for many different reasons. Christmas will no doubt be difficult for even more people this year due to the disastrous flood event in August.
However, there are many organizations helping make Christmas just a little brighter for some families. One such organization is Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge. While Catholic Charities helps families in need all year long, their program called The Community Comes Together For Christmas is of special importance during the holidays, especially this year.
"Never have we had so many families remaining on our wish list at this late date," said David Aguillard, executive director of Catholic Charities. "It's a problem we've never had to face. Our program is unique. Rather than anonymously d ropping a toy in a barrel, this program is more about building relationships and bringing hope to families who have so little by those of us who are fortunate to have so much," Aguillard continued.
"The wish lists don't include just toys," Aguillard said. "Most lists include simple household goods, blankets, towels, simple everyday items we all take for gr anted, but for a family or senior living in poverty, it's a blessing."
This year in particular, toys for the kids are very important. Heather Bennet's home was flooded in August. Since then, she, her husband, and their five children have stayed in multiple hotel rooms between Baton Rouge and Hammond, and they still do not have a permanent home. They applied for and were gr anted help this Christmas from Catholic Charities.
"I'm not able to do nothing for my kids for Christmas," Bennet told WAFB while visiting her very cramped one-bed hotel room. "And it really hurts me. I'm so thankful for Catholic Charities for my kids to have a Christmas, because without them, my kids would have nothing at all," Bennet said, near tears.
David Aguillard and Carol Spurell, the communications director for Catholic Charities, entered the room with Santa bags full of wrapped gifts for Bennet's five children, and not just any gifts. These were the specific gifts the children had asked for from Santa. Money used to purchase these gifts came from a generous family who 'sponsored' a family through Catholic Charities.
Spruell said not everyone will be so fortunate. "You know, the thought of us having to make those phone calls to the people that don't get sponsored, that's really troubling, and that's something that we really don't want to have to do."
But Spruell feels optimistic. "We know that the people of Baton Rouge will come forward and help out again this Christmas," she said.
That was our cue to do our small part by contributing this week's Hand It On $300 cash donation to this very important program, and you can too. If you've been blessed this year, make a cash donation to Catholic Charities to help buy Christmas gifts for other children. Visit catholiccharitiesbr.org. There you will find a secure way to donate.
Every child deserves a Christmas. To nominate someone for WAFB's Hand It On recognition, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure to include your contact information, especially your phone number.