Photo: File / Tyler Sizemore / Hearst Connecticut Media
For many, it may not feel like the holiday season has arrived due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. And for residents who have fallen on hard times, this may be a time of crisis instead of a time of festivity.
The Giving Fund is once again telling the stories of local residents in need, and offering a way for community members to make a difference in the lives of their neighbors.
It is a joint venture between two local nonprofits — Family Centers and Person-to-Person — along with the Stamford Advocate and Greenwich Time. The Giving Fund is now in its 37th year of helping at-need individuals in the community.
“We are living amid a pandemic, and people are scraping to get by, put food on the table and get medicine. The Giving Fund can help keep people afloat during these troubled times,” said Bill Brucker, vice president of Greenwich-based Family Centers.
Family Centers, a nonprofit organization offering education, health and human services to children, adults and families in Fairfield County, is “seeing an uptick in the client base,” he said.
“People are stressed out, they are out of work, they are stuck at home and they are trying to find their way.”
To help those in need, the Giving Fund was created to make donations to families that need help with basic needs — paying rent, buying groceries, covering bills or providing items for a new baby. It does not focus on gifts or toys, but on helping families with day-to-day expenses.
Brucker said the fundraising drive addresses needs that many of us, because we live in an affluent community, take for granted.
“These are stories that showcase the need in our community,” Brucker said.
“We’re certainly thankful to live in a very giving community,” he said. “So many people ask, ‘What can we do to help?’”
Last Christmas season, the Giving Fund raised more than $51,000 for more than 80 families due to generosity of readers, which was about the same amount raised in the drive in 2018.
A similar fund, called the Help A Neighbor campaign, raised nearly $60,000 in the spring to help residents at the start of the coronavirus outbreak. Greenwich Time and the Stamford Advocate partnered with Family Centers, Domus, Person to Person and Building One Community to help more than 80 local families and individuals.
“This will be a holiday season unlike what we have seen before, Brucker said. “We have a generous community, we hope the Giving Fund will lessen the burden that many of our neighbors feel because of the pandemic.”
Today is the first installment of the Giving Fund.
Greenwich Time and the Advocate will publish short stories about local families and people in need every Thursday and Sunday throughout the holiday season. Each case in the Giving Fund will include an estimated dollar amount that would help families tackle challenges such as rent payments, child care costs and transportation.
Here are the stories of five neighbors in need:
Case #300: 2020 has been a difficult year for Andrea, a senior citizen who recently stopped working after two major operations. Shortly after her recovery this past summer, Andrea’s family of three tested positive for COVID-19. Andrea and her husband have both applied for unemployment but have not received any benefits. This is a working family, and they live paycheck to paycheck. Though they are fearful of not having enough money to pay their rent, they have not wavered in their faith. A gift of $500 would provide Andrea some financial stability during these uncertain times.
Case #301: Jose works for a landscaping company and recently fell from a tree while on the job, dislocating three discs in his back. Jose’s company did not offer medical insurance and refused to offer any severance pay for his spinal surgery. Most recently, Jose tested positive for COVID-19. He is a family man who deeply cares for his four children, but he is fearful of not providing for their basic needs while he is under quarantine and recovering. A $500 gift would make a huge difference to Jose and his family.
Case #302: Ms. Ng is a 61-year-old single mother who works a part-time job. She was unemployed for more than six months after the pandemic hit in March. Ms. Ng has medical complications due to varicose veins and has difficulty working full time. Ms. Ng lives in a public housing apartment in Greenwich and has limited family support. With limited income, she struggles to pay for food, medical supplies and medication co-payments. A gift of $500 would provide her with much-need stability this holiday season.
Case #303: Ms. Mr was out of work for six months during the pandemic, and recently started a gig job for 15 hours a week caring for an elderly woman. Last week, she was asked not to come back to work due to the COVID-19 concerns at this time. Ms. Mr is anxious and depressed due to the coming holidays and lack of income to pay for rent and food. A gift of $500 would be a huge help this season.
Case #304: Ms. Ma is a 45-year-old marred Latina with a 12-year-old daughter who suffers from ADHD, autism, anxiety, tics and a depression condition. Ms. Ma and her husband lost their jobs in April due to the COVID-19 outbreak. A gift of $500 would help cover expenses for rent and food as well as her daughter’s medication.
All the Giving Fund cases will be listed online. To make a donation online, visit givingfund.isecuresites.com