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Catholic Charities appeal asks public to help them help the less fortunate

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OGDENSBURG - Sister Mary Lou Stubbs leaned forward across her paper-cluttered desk at Wadhams Hall College for emphasis when asked to explain the importance of the upcoming annual Diocese of Ogdensburg’s Catholic Charities Mother’s Day Appeal.

The goal is to raise $175,000 to help Catholic Charities pay for 24 social programs that, beset by cutbacks in traditional government funds, can use some gap-closing financial assistance.

Because in these times of lost jobs and paycheck-to-paycheck living, more families and individuals than expected need help, or will soon.

“Tomorrow, it could be you,” Sister Stubbs said. “It could be me.”

The appeal takes place on Mother’s Day, May 13. Donations of $25, $50, $75, $100, $500 and more will be accepted.

As Parish Partnership coordinator, Sister Stubbs’s job is to help connect the programs with those who need them.

In the diocese, the numbers are daunting. There are eight counties - St. Lawrence, Jefferson, Clinton, Franklin, Essex, Lewis, Hamilton and Herkimer. Together, they are home to more than 18,000 people who were served by various programs last year. That number, Sister Stubbs reckoned, will maintain if it doesn’t rise.

The programs and services include adoption assistance, parenting, pregnancy, maternity, counseling, finances, assistance in paying for food and utilities, and helping senior citizens.

“This is pretty significant for us to provide services,” Sister Stubbs said of the appeal.

Counseling is the most desired service. Sister Stubbs calling the need for it “huge.”

In recent years, Sister Stubbs said, the appeal has taken on a particularly heart-tugging weight shared by local food pantries, neighborhood used clothing shops and larger social service agencies everywhere. The poor economy has led to joblessness and financial difficulties that have resulted in many people seeking help for the first time.

It is not a need that is readily admitted.

“People get embarrassed,” Sister Stubbs said. “There is a certain embarrassment.”

But it is understood.

“We’ve all been through rough times,” she said. “That’s what we’re here for.”

Sister Stubbs said that donations will be accepted after May 13, and that officials would like to have the appeal wrapped in about six weeks.

But no donation will be refused.

“We’ll take it anytime,” she said.

For more information, call Catholic Charities at 393-2255.

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