Celebrate this Lent by giving back to those most in need

This week, a four-year-old boy named Jay held his mother's hand as he walked up the stairs to his new apartment complex. Jay and his mom were moving out of one of Catholic Charities Boston's shelters and into their own place. His housing case manager shared that Jay excitedly ran from the kitchen to the bathroom to -- finally -- his own room, complete with his own closet.

"What are you giving up this Lent?" is a familiar question in the Catholic tradition. At Catholic Charities Boston, we ask people to consider giving back in addition to giving something up so that people in need, like Jay, can feel the joy and hope that comes from finding some stability.

Overlapping emergencies are currently impacting thousands of people across Massachusetts. Earlier this fall, the combination of new arrivals and the challenges facing families across the region prompted Gov. Maura Healey to declare a state of emergency over the lack of shelter beds. Between the high cost of living, the rising rates of food insecurity, and ongoing strains from post-pandemic job loss, the need to give back is greater than ever.

"With the cost of living reaching unprecedented heights, a distressing number of individuals in our community are struggling to make ends meet," said Catholic Charities Boston's President and CEO Kelley Tuthill.

Cardinal O'Malley has called all members of the archdiocese to help alleviate the distressing humanitarian crisis building in Massachusetts regarding families in need of shelter and compassionate care. Catholic Charities has answered the call by doubling our shelter capacity and opening three new emergency family shelters since July 2023, providing legal assistance and interpreters to families living in state-run shelters, and connecting newcomers to English classes and job training opportunities. Still, the needs are complex and continue to grow.

"Some people are coming to us possessing nothing but the clothes on their backs," said Beth Chambers, vice president of Basic Needs. "Addressing the housing crisis inevitably means addressing the barriers in our communities many are facing -- including a lack of ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) programs, a lack of affordable childcare, a lack of education and employment opportunities and a critical shortage of affordable housing."

The gravity of the housing crisis demands our immediate attention and intervention, and the Lenten Season serves as a reminder that we all have the power to make a difference. Here are some ways you can give back to Catholic Charities Boston this Lenten Season and beyond:

-- Give back all year long through Catholic Charities' monthly giving program

By joining the agency's monthly giving program, your generous gift will be spread throughout the course of the following year, allowing Catholic Charities to plan ahead and continue meeting the growing needs of our most vulnerable neighbors.

-- Leave a legacy of compassion behind

"What legacy would you like to leave behind?" Those interested in reflecting on this question can explore Catholic Charities Boston's planned giving options and consider making a donation that will have a far-reaching impact after their lifetime.

-- Welcome a refugee family in need

Catholic Charities Boston's Welcome Circles program has already transformed the lives of countless families fleeing violence, poverty, and political instability in their home countries. The program connects people with special asylum cases to volunteer-led groups that provide financial and community support to help ease the transition into a new community. The initiative, which was initially launched to help resettle Ukrainian refugees in need, now serves Cuban, Haitian, Nicaraguan, and Venezuelan refugees as well. To learn more about how you can get involved, or for more ways to donate to this life-changing work, please email philip_dagati@ccab.org.

-- Help Catholic Charities youth by donating your used car (or parts of it)

Charitable Adult Rides and Services (CARS) is a social enterprise nonprofit organization that helps thousands of organizations across the country increase their fundraising through a turn-key vehicle donation program. CARS accepts used cars, trucks, boats, and motorcycles and sells them, or their parts, at auction. Eighty percent of the net proceeds of a vehicle donated to CARS for Catholic Charities go directly toward Catholic Charities' youth programming, including the Teen Center, Sunset Point summer camp in Hull, and mentoring, tutoring, and childcare services across the agency.

-- Donate Basic Needs Items

While Catholic Charities Boston does not accept clothing or furniture donations due to limited space at our facilities, items may be donated to our clients through St. Vincent de Paul Society's (SVDP) donation bins, which can be found at parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Boston. To find a clothing bin near you, please call 1-800-675-2882. Donations made to SVDP are then distributed to people in need, including residents in Catholic Charities shelters and Basic Needs clients.

Please view our Amazon Wish List for the current basic needs items needed for shelter residents, from personal hygiene products to backpacks and school supplies.

Catholic Charities depends on the generosity of donors to address urgent crises, particularly in providing essential assistance and necessities to those in need. To learn how to support our clients in other ways, visit ccab.org/give.