Students at St. Margaret Mary School in Omaha participate in Joy of Giving by bundling diapers for the Christ Child Society of Omaha on May 12. The diapers were to be packed with other baby essentials and given to parents in need. COURTESY PHOTO

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For a second year, Joy of Giving helps people support Catholic ministries across the archdiocese

Joy of Giving, now in its second year, is gaining steam.

The 24-hour fundraising event, to be held May 18, unites Catholic entities within the archdiocese in raising money and awareness for an array of ministries.

The number of participating parishes, schools and organizations has grown from 104 in its inaugural year of 2021 to 129 this year, according to Bree Peterson Kotulak, a development officer with the archdiocese’s Stewardship and Development Office.

Last year 2,047 donors gave a total of $727,049 to participating organizations.

This year’s goal is to increase the number of donors to 2,700 and to raise $900,000.

The giving has already begun, thanks to a pre-giving period that began May 2.

The money raised during Joy of Giving will be distributed directly to participating parishes, schools and organizations. Each will have a page on the fundraiser’s site: https://omaha.igivecatholictogether.org/.

Those entities will be directing potential donors to the Joy of Giving site through social media, emails and mailings.

Joy of Giving helps support a variety of ministries and gives people ways to participate in the mission of the Church, Peterson Kotulak said.

“Joy of Giving directly speaks to the archdiocesan vision of ‘One Church’ by providing an opportunity to unify and amplify the significance of our Catholic community and its impact across 23 counties of northeast Nebraska,” she said.

The fundraiser garnered $169,460 last year for St. Margaret Mary Parish and School in Omaha, said Miki Kramper, director of enrollment and communications for the school and parish.

That money helped pay for upkeep at the parish.

“We have a really big campus and old buildings, so there is ongoing upkeep and maintenance,” Kramper said.

The money raised also helped cover special costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and summer storms that took down old trees, she said. “Then we have over 500 students in the school as well. So being able to support what we hope is an excellent education also is an ongoing cost.”

St. Margaret Mary families typically are generous with their time as well as their money, Kramper said.

Service has been a growing component of Joy of Giving, including at St. Margaret Mary. 

Students in kindergarten through eighth grade worked with the Christ Child Society of Omaha on May 12 to pack baby supplies for parents in need in Omaha, Council Bluffs and Lincoln. The students also learned about the work of the Christ Child Society and its founder and prayed with the organization’s volunteer leaders before beginning.

St. Patrick Parish in Fremont also is incorporating service into Joy of Giving by partnering with Habitat for Humanity: helping with construction, at the organization’s ReStore and with yard work.

Archdiocese employees will be working at eight different charities and schools in the Omaha area: painting, stocking food pantry shelves, supplying lunches for the homeless, cleaning and making playground improvements.

Including service as part of Joy of Giving “helps us fully encapsulate the archbishop’s vision (One Church: encountering Jesus, equipping disciples, living mercy), Peterson Kotulak said.

“When you look at Joy of Giving, it really is calling on us to be one Church because this is an archdiocese-wide day of giving, inviting people to encounter Jesus. The archdiocese is directly equipping disciples by providing this day. And now the service component really provides that living mercy piece.”

Kramper said St. Margaret Mary has encouraged parishioners to support other entities participating in Joy of Giving, including perhaps the schools they graduated from, the parishes they grew up in or an organization that has been meaningful to them.

“I think the really cool thing about Joy of Giving is that everybody has an opportunity to lift each other up,” she said. “It’s great to be working on one big project. I think it pulls all of us together on this common goal. It’s kind of who we are as a Catholic community.”