Spirit of the season results in large donations to emergency assistance centers

.- This year, helping those less fortunate is even more necessary as greater numbers of people find themselves out of work. Last week, Catholic Charities of Colorado found two examples of organizations stepping forward to help those in need.

On Dec. 9, Catholic Charities received a donation of 400 cases of canned fruit for use in their emergency assistance centers. The donation of peaches and apricots was presented by Elder Randy Funk of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to Auxiliary Bishop James D. Conley at the Byers Place Emergency Center, 1205 W. Byers Place in Denver.

According to Randy Weinert, director of Communications for Catholic Charities, the Mormon Church has a network of farms and orchards throughout the country at which they grow fruits and vegetables. After picking and processing, the canned produce is distributed to the poor through the church’s own emergency assistance efforts.

"This year because their crop was so abundant, they had a lot left over," Weinert told the Denver Catholic Register, "so they looked to donate to other charitable organizations across the country. Here in Colorado they chose Catholic Charities."

Bishop Conley said that with so many food banks running short of food this time of the year, he was grateful to the Church of Latter Day Saints for their generous donation to Catholic Charities.

"I’m happy that we are able to work together in assisting those who are in need," he said.

Also on hand for the presentation were Steven Carattini, chief executive officer and interim president of Catholic Charities; Beth Shepherd, supervisor of emergency assistance programs and Patty Carr, manager of the Byers Place Emergency Assistance Center.

In another example of Christmas goodwill, Avanza Supermarkets donated more than 40 tons of food, enough to fill two tractor trailers, to Catholic Charities Emergency Assistance Centers. The food will be distributed to five assistance centers in Denver and Greeley.

This year’s donation more than doubles that which the supermarket chain donated in 2007. Beth Shepherd, supervisor of the emergency assistance programs, said that this year as more people find themselves in need, the number of donations is decreasing.

"Yesterday’s employed worker, who may have donated food to the food banks in the past is now unemployed and in need of help," she said. "It’s making it hard to keep the shelves stocked."

Alec Covington, chief executive officer of the Nash Finch Co., which owns Avanza, said that it is crucial that everyone continues to work together to make sure no one goes hungry.

"We thank Catholic Charities for their continued work in the Denver/Greeley area and look forward to partnering with them again," he said.

Weinert said that those people or organizations wishing to volunteer time or make donations may do so by contacting Catholic Charities ccdenver.org.

Printed with permission from the Denver Catholic Register.

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