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Cold Snap Brings Big Increase in Emergency Assistance Needs at Catholic Charities
Tuesday, February 04, 2014 by Communications

Agency Experiences Nearly Double Number of Requests for Cold Weather Clothing, Food and Rental Assistance and Increase for Shelter and Warming Center Placements

Chicago, IL – This winter has seen extreme cold weather hit Chicago hard, with temperatures regularly falling well below zero. Thousands have turned to Catholic Charities in Cook and Lake Counties for assistance, leaving the agency in need of warm winter clothing and blankets, food donations, and financial donations to support those needing short term help with rent or paying heating bills.

“In an average week we may have 40 to 50 people stop at our Emergency Assistance Center at our downtown office. In January we are seeing at least 75 and up to 100 people stopping to get warm clothing and blankets to help them battle this harsh winter or for short term assistance in paying their heating bills, and that doesn’t include the significant increases we also are seeing at all of our regional offices,” said Monsignor Michael M. Boland, President of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Catholic Charities has 12 food pantries across its two county service area, all of which are seeing an increase in cliental. “Many times families will see their food budgets stretched during severe weather. A significant number of our clients rely on hourly wages and when businesses are closed or it is dangerous to go to work which results in lost wages. Combine lost wages with schoolchildren at home during cold weather and there are extra meals and food needed for the home, which often is outside of the family’s budget.”

During the most recent life-threatening cold, January 27 and 28, Catholic Charities nearly doubled its outreach to the homeless in helping them find shelter or a warming center and conducting well-being checks across the City. At any given time 20 staff members were on call and working across Chicago to ensure those who needed a warm place to stay were transported to a shelter or warming center. More than 500 people received a well-being check, emergency food, or were taken to a shelter or warming center during that two day period.

“We are very grateful for our volunteers who have stepped up and come out even in the frigid temperatures to serve meals at all of our supper programs helping more than 150 people each night and to groups collecting coats, hats and gloves, like the 200 coats we collected from Northwestern University, St. John Berchmans Parish and so many more groups and churches,” said Monsignor Boland. “More donations are always needed as we anticipate the cold weather lasting several more weeks.”

Donations of food or winter outerwear can be made at Catholic Charities headquarters at 721 N. LaSalle, Chicago, IL or at any of its regional offices found at Monetary donations can be made online at

About Catholic Charities
Helping people in need for more than 96 years, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago is one of  the largest private, not-for-profit social service agencies in the Midwest, annually assisting more than 1.2 million people in Cook and Lake counties without regard to religious, ethnic or economic background.  Catholic Charities fulfills the Church’s role in the mission of charity by providing compassionate, competent, professional services that strengthen and support individuals, families and communities.


Contact: Kristine Kappel
Phone: 312-655-7019 or 773-718-8467 (cell)

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