By CATHERINE GRATTAN     11/28/2023

Catholic Charities of Orange County is gearing up for this year’s Christmas Blessings Program. Each year, families in need across Orange County are matched with benefactors who purchase personalized gifts and gift cards for hundreds of families.

Benefactors are provided with each child’s wish list and the names of stores the family shops at to ensure families receive gifts specific to their needs, maximizing the program’s gift-giving potential.

Families who are matched with a benefactor pick up their gifts in mid-December at the Cultural Center on the Christ Cathedral campus. With the help of volunteers and Santa’s elves, each family is verified to make sure every family receives their personalized gifts.

In addition, any family unable to submit their application or not adopted by a benefactor is able to pick from an array of toys and gifts at the Cantlay Food Distribution Center at CCOC’s Three Kings Day event in January.

Last year’s Christmas Blessings Program was a resounding success. Each individual received approximately $100 in gift cards which totaled approximately $282,093 gift cards donated. In total, 1,549 children received gifts, each child receiving two to five toys or individualized items such as bikes, scooters, dolls and games. The value of the gifts combined totaled $271,075.

At CCOC’s Three Kings Day event in January of 2023, 518 additional children received gifts.

That’s over 2,000 children in Orange County who received gifts at CCOC’s Christmas Blessings & Three Kings Day Events, and over $553,168 in gift cards and toys given to families!

CCOC is extremely grateful for the volunteers and groups who volunteer their time and effort each year to ensure the program is a success. Jack Abajian, a Fourth Degree member of the Knights of Columbus at San Antonio de Padua Catholic Church, recalled the meaningful work poured into last year’s Christmas Blessings program.

“I supervised the gift bagging team, assured the number of items going into the bags were correct and signed off the numbers for everyone who had received a bag,” he said. “Plus, I organized the floor where everything was to be placed. Looking forward to another year of supporting the Catholic Charities Team.”

As times remain challenging, CCOC looks forward to helping even more families in need this year, with the goal of helping over 3,000 children this holiday season.
One client, a single mom of two children, is among the families being served this year. She and her children were forced to flee their home due to domestic violence and spent last Christmas in a shelter. Yet, with hard work, generous hearts, and trust in God, her situation improved, and they were able to move from the shelter to an apartment. While she is grateful to have a roof over her head, she has little means to provide gifts for her kids this Christmas. Thanks to the Christmas Blessings Program, she was able to be matched with a benefactor, ensuring her children will have gifts to open on Christmas Day.

For this year’s Christmas Blessings Program, families matched with benefactors will pick up their gifts at the Christmas Blessings Event on December 16, 18 and 19 at Christ Cathedral campus, and all families with children are welcome to pick up toys at the Three Kings Day Celebration on January 5 at the Cantlay Center.

Catholic Charities of Orange County is still in need of benefactors looking to adopt families in need this Christmas. If interested in becoming a benefactor, please scan the QR code to complete the benefactor form here or email Madeline Fugate at mdibb@ ccoc.org.

Any gift, no matter how small or large, will surely add to the harvest of blessings received by hard-hit families and individuals this Christmas.