Archive | November, 2010

Remembering a remarkable American woman today

29 Nov

Today is the 30th anniversary of the death of Dorothy Day. She is a towering figure in the history of Christianity in America and also of the work for social justice. She’s also a personal hero of mine — and certainly part of the reason I’m here doing what I do at Christian Help of Mingo County.

To provide some food for thought, here’s a neat little introduction to Dorothy that I used to show my high school students when we talked about her. (It’s a sort of trailer to a much longer documentary about her.)

I’d also point out that just a few weeks ago her collected letters were published, under the title All the Way to Heaven. The editor of that book, Robert Ellsberg, also oversaw the publication of her diaries a couple of years ago as The Duty of Delight. That book is wonderful reading, and I’m looking forward to digging into her letters. (When my brother asked me last week what I want for Christmas, I named All the Way to Heaven.)

The feast days chosen by the Catholic Church for most saints are the anniversary of their death. So I (and surely most others familiar with her) fully expect this date to someday be the one on which the Church annually celebrates Dorothy’s extraordinary life, ministry, and message.

And there’s no reason she shouldn’t be celebrated as well by those who live their faith outside the Catholic tradition. She stands as a challenging model to any Christian who believes the words of Jesus in Matthew 25.

For a truly meaningful gift to your loved ones: CH gift acknowledgment cards are available now

26 Nov
I received an email from one of our kind supporters this morning, saying, “I have a question about Christmas gift cards. I like to send gift cards to folks rather than regular presents.  CHI and my other charities need the money more than my recipients need the gifts. Plus, this is the true meaning of Christmas.  Do you have any, or will you be getting some?”
The answer is yes, we do have gift acknowledgement cards specifically for the Christmas season.  If you’d like to give a gift that honors your loved ones and makes a big difference in the lives of people in dire need, consider a donation to Christian Help in their name. 
We’d be happy to send the gift acknowledgement cards to you, so that you can give them to your loved ones, or we can send them directly to them, noting your gift. 

Considering the cost

20 Nov

A column that I wrote appears on the op-ed page of today’s Charleston Gazette.  It’s on the proposed AEP rate hike and how it will affect low-income families in southern West Virginia.  We serve hundreds of such families here at Christian Help, and thinking about how such a hike would affect them gives me a knot in my stomach. 

My column is available on the Gazette website here.

Elves at Work

17 Nov

Preparations for Christian Help’s annual Christmas distribution are well underway. This major effort will make available toys, clothing, and food to hundreds of area families at Christmastime. This is the sixteenth year for the program.

Today I joined several Christian Help staff and amazing volunteers in their toy-cleaning session. Once a week, as the day draws near, they get together to go through toys that have been donated throughout the year, making sure everything we give away is clean and in good working order.

Sacred Heart Academy brings a little bit of Christmas

9 Nov

Our friends from Sacred Heart Academy of Louisville, Kentucky, have been making an annual trip to Mingo County for 15 years now.  That’s how long Christian Help has been doing its annual Christmas distribution program of toys, food, and clothing to local families in need.  Every year, students at the school have done a major toy drive to be donated to the program, and then a group of students, with some faculty and parents, delivers it all. 

Sacred Heart Academy is an all-girls Catholic college preparatory high school.  Our founder, Sr. Brendan Conlon, was once a teacher there, many decades ago.  Their website is here.

Last night, the delivery truck arrived, along with a couple of vans of students and the adults who accompanied them.  We provided a tour of the region, to help them understand the area, and then unloaded the very generous donations.  The photos here were all taken at night, which is why the quality is not so good. 

Our thanks to everyone in the Sacred Heart Academy community who contributed to this important effort.  It will make a big difference to many local families this Christmastime. 

Christian Help’s Christmas distribution will take place this year on Tuesday, December 21.  Registrations for  the program take place throughout November.

Important Support for Christian Help Programs

1 Nov

Today I received notification that Christian Help has been awarded two grants from Americans Helping Americans, an extraordinary organization working to eliminate poverty and build communities in many areas of the country.  

This important funding will include $10,000 to help provide dental care for the people we serve, and $5,000 for utility assistance.  That’s going to help a lot of low-income people in northern Mingo County have a great-looking smile, and (if they need something to smile about) also keep their homes well-heated this winter.  

Our warm thanks to Americans Helping Americans.  Christian Help has collaborated with this organization in the past, and we enjoy a good working relationship with their staff.