Volunteers at the Juan Diego Center in South Omaha prepared food packages earlier this year for clients of the organization’s food pantry, one of the vital services provided by Catholic Charities. SUSAN SZALEWSKI/STAFF


Catholic Charities collection to help our neighbors in need

Providing emergency assistance and other vital services to more than 280,000 people annually is a big job – one that can be made easier with the support of the entire archdiocesan community.

For nearly 100 years, Catholic Charities has served individuals and families throughout the Archdiocese of Omaha, and area Catholics are invited to be part of that effort by donating to the Catholic Charities of Omaha special collection during weekend Masses Nov. 12-13.

Last year’s collection in the archdiocese garnered $50,986 to help Catholic Charities serve thousands of Nebraskans in need and distribute more than 2.8 million pounds of food over the past 12 months.

“Our faith calls us to serve others, and Catholic Charities tries to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ for those in need,” said Dave Vankat, the organization’s chief community engagement officer.

“With the increase in inflation, those who were already struggling financially, or with other challenges, need more help than ever,” he said, “so this collection is crucial for us to be able to continue to help, especially going into the holidays.”

During the pandemic and with the current economy, emergency food assistance has been in high demand at both Catholic Charities food pantries – the Juan Diego Center in South Omaha and the St. Martin de Porres Center in North Omaha – and an outreach food pantry on the Omaha Indian Reservation in Walthill, so food and monetary donations continue to be much needed.

And, on Nov. 10, Catholic Charities will open another food pantry, the Market Choice Food Pantry, at the organization’s St. Teresa of Calcutta Campus, 3151 N. 93rd St. in Omaha.

“Earlier this year, we had 58% more people coming to us in need with 38% less donations (received), so everyone would get a little bit less,” Vankat said. 

In addition to financial need, the organization has also seen an increase in anxiety and depression in people seeking mental health services, he said.

Catholic Charities’ programs serve individuals and families throughout the 23 counties of the Omaha archdiocese and include: Behavioral Health Services, Family Strengthening Services, Immigration Legal Services, Domestic Violence Services (including the only dedicated domestic violence shelter in Douglas County), Emergency and Supportive Food Services, and the Microbusiness and Asset Development Program.

Donations to this weekend’s special collection will help Catholic Charities continue to serve people in our community facing food insecurity and other crises, along with its other vital services to help improve the lives of people in our communities.

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