By Christie L. Chicoine

CS&T Staff Writer

Coordinators of the Archdiocese’s 2009 Catholic Charities Appeal are counting on area Catholics to help them help those in the area most adversely affected by the country’s economic crisis.

“We’re not asking anybody to give more money this year – we’re asking more people to give,” said Deacon John K. Hunter, executive director of the archdiocesan Office for Development, which coordinates the annual appeal.

Deacon Hunter is also asking each of the Archdiocese’s 269 parishes to make the appeal its number one priority in May.

“We need your help now more than ever,” he said.

The Catholic Charities Appeal benefits the needy of all ages across the Archdiocese through direct services.

“Our appeal is the single most important appeal in the Archdiocese,” Deacon Hunter said.

All the money raised through the appeal remains in the Archdiocese.

This year’s goal is $10 million. Last year, $9.2 million was raised through the appeal.

Fifty-eight percent of the money is allocated to archdiocesan Catholic Social Services (CSS) Deacon Hunter said.

Outreach to the hungry and homeless are among the numerous CSS programs the appeal helps fund.

Since job losses across the country have resulted in more people who are hungry and homeless, those who donated to food cupboards in the Archdiocese in the past are now relying on those same cupboards to feed their own families, Deacon Hunter said.

Likewise, shelters across the Archdiocese are providing roofs over the heads of those who are now without a home.

Since the stress of desperate financial times can result in violent outbursts and unhealthy behaviors – including spousal and child abuse – the appeal also helps fund the counseling services CSS provides families.

“The effects are just endless,” Deacon Hunter said of the consequences of the country’s current crisis.

Deacon Hunter wants the appeal’s recipients to know that their requests for help are never for naught.

“With the help of all the faithful in our Archdiocese, we’re listening to their call and, hopefully, with God’s help, we’ll be able to assist them to answer the call,” no matter the level of need.

“Whether you’re a homeless man or not, we’re all God’s children,” Deacon Hunter added. “It’s our call as disciples of Jesus to help.”

Ninety-five percent of the money raised in the annual appeal is spent on the intended recipients – the needy in the Philadelphia Archdiocese. The remaining five percent goes to the appeal’s operating budget.

The appeal dates back to 1915, through the establishment of the diocese’s Catholic Charities Bureau. In 1958, the first coordinated appeal in the diocese raised more than $2.1 million for various social services. Since 1995, the appeal has raised an average of $10.5 million each year. Today, the Catholic Charities Appeal funds more than 80 social service organizations.

Catholic Charities Sunday was May 3 and collections were taken up for the appeal in parishes across the Archdiocese at weekend Masses May 2-3.

If you didn’t contribute last weekend, it’s not too late.

Although the appeal officially ends June 30, contributions may be made throughout the year.

Up until June 30, donations may be made through one’s parish. Checks should be written to the Catholic Charities Appeal. After June 30, donations may be made directly to the appeal office or online. Either way, donors are assured their parishes will receive credit toward their appeal goal.

Donations may be from an inspanidual or a family; as memorial or honorarium gifts; as bequests and planned gifts, or as pledged gifts or gifts of securities.

Donations may also be made through participating employee campaigns or as matching employee-employer gifts.

For more information, including the Catholic agencies, programs and schools of special education that benefit from the appeal, visit the Catholic Charities Appeal web site at Correspond by standard mail to the Catholic Charities Appeal office at the Office for Development, 222 N. 17th St., Suite 708, Philadelphia, Pa. 19103, or call (215) 587-3651.

CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at (215) 587-2468 or