CINCINNATI — The coronavirus pandemic has cost people their livelihoods and put a financial burden on many Tri-State families, but one local charity is trying to make sure it doesn’t cost families their Christmas.
St. Vincent de Paul normally helps around 1,000 families this time of year, and that number has quadrupled in 2020.
“We have seen a lot of need, and as I was going through the applications, almost all of them mentioned COVID,” St. Vincent de Paul Outreach Center program manager Erin Nowak said.
She said the donations taken in this year only represent a fraction of the families seeking help for the holidays, including many who’ve never needed it before.
“Lots of folks that lost their jobs because of COVID or maybe their hours got cut back, but not even their job but their kids are home and they have to help them with virtual schooling, and they can’t take any hours at work or they can’t take as many hours at work,” Nowak said.
The charity is doing its best to get creative by matching families in need with sponsors who want to help. Directing them toward socially distant exchanges and turning to the internet for those who want to help without leaving home.
“We just couldn’t have people in the building this year, so we said, ‘Okay, how are we going to do this?’ and we put up an Amazon wish list, and we also had people who are still doing toy drives for us or just individuals,” Nowak said.
She said St. Vincent de Paul still will be able to help around 1,000 qualified families, including close to 2,500 children.
“I have had mothers literally scream when I tell them ‘Hey, we’re going to be able to help your family’ and it’s just so great to be able to hear the relief in their voice and some of the stress of the holiday season just melts away,” Nowak said.
Those reactions, she said, are made possible through the generosity of those who wanted to give a helping hand to their neighbors -– even if it meant doing so from a distance.
“I just want to say thank you so much for thinking of us and thinking of organizations like us,” Nowak said. “Thank you for thinking of the folks who otherwise wouldn’t be able to provide a Christmas for their children.”
Donations can be made at St. Vincent de Paul’s website.