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Bucks County Opportunity Council sees record need for assistance


The Bucks County Opportunity Council is seeing more families needing help this holiday season than it has since it began its Give A Christmas program 35 years ago, the agency said.

With inflation continuing to drive up prices on everything from food to gas and utilities, families and individuals are struggling to make ends meet. As Christmas approaches, many across the area are finding it impossible to get through without a helping hand.

On Nov. 29, the first day of Give A Christmas, BCOC distributed $23,000 in gift cards to more than 150 households. On the same day last year, 21 households were given support and $3,500 was distributed, said Connie McGarvey, the council’s communications director.

As of Dec. 12, just two weeks into the program, 365 families, or 1,002 individuals, were helped, McGarvey said. By comparison, during all of 2021, the agency assisted 464 households, or 1,286 people.

In order to the meet the historic need, the region’s lead anti-poverty agency is calling on community support. “Every dollar counts and we are trying to maximize donations,” said McGarvey. Gene and Marlene Epstein, regular donors to BCOC, have offered a $25,000 challenge grant if the council can raise $175,000.

Donations to Give A Christmas help vulnerable families throughout the year with food, utilities, medical bills and other basic needs. McGarvey said, the council has exhausted its budget for holiday assistance this year and is only making a limited number of appointments to offer help where it can.

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