Christmas is a joyous time of year for most, but with families facing financial hardship it can be anything but merry.
It’s hard to believe that every day in Niagara, one in five students goes to school hungry and waits in line to receive a breakfast. For lunch, some eat pizza scraps from the previous night’s supper. In recent school years more than a million meals have been served annually in Niagara Catholic District School Board nutrition programs.
Other statistics reveal that 80 per cent of classroom learning is done through the eyes, and that one child in four suffers from some kind of vision problem severe enough to impact learning. Many students do not have the financial resources to purchase eyeglasses. The Niagara Foundation for Catholic Education has developed a program called Seeing Clearly, assisting students in need to purchase the necessary glasses. Several other students lack daily essentials such as warm clothing, shoes, personal care items, money for school uniforms, equipment for special needs, or the financial means to pursue a rewarding education.
Earlier this year, when COVID-19 forced school closures, the foundation stepped up to assist the Niagara Catholic District School Board by providing $10,000 in funding for wireless internet access that permitted students in need to learn from home. The foundation also provided further financial support to purchase grocery cards for families who required assistance.
Foundation executive director Jim Marino says we often associate poverty with developing countries, perhaps little realizing that poverty exists right here in Niagara. Even during “normal” times, the lack of nutrition and other essentials of daily life can be very worrisome for students in need, says Marino, “but this situation is now more compounded by the serious impact of COVID-19.”
He says offering as much assistance as possible to students in need, especially at these more difficult times is the epitome of the foundation’s existence and purpose, and that the foundation fully realizes it would be impossible to offer such financial support without the generosity of kind and caring individuals, organizations, and businesses who make up a thoughtful Niagara Region.
Students who receive foundation support are truly grateful. One student writes, “Thank you for your assistance. I promise it will be put to good use during my future endeavours in furthering my education, and will promote the important lessons I have learned as a Catholic student.”
Another writes, “It’s not always easy to juggle school and work, but with your generosity, it has made it much easier. When I graduate I hope I can make a difference in people’s lives, like you have in mine”.
Marino says that these examples of gratitude are proof positive that cheque or credit card support is much more than a donation. It’s a long-term solid investment that will pay big dividends for students in need who require assistance right now.
The Niagara Foundation for Catholic Education is a registered charitable foundation and receipts are issued for tax purposes. Donate on line using PayPal and view the foundation’s video at www.nfce.org. The mailing address is: Niagara Foundation for Catholic Education, 427 Rice Rd., Welland, ON L3C 7C1.
Phone 905-735-0247, ext. 210, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.