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Community Missions: Help spread 'Tidings of Joy' this holiday season


Fri, Dec 8th 2023 03:50 pm

Guest Editorial by Marilee R. Clark

Vice President of Youth Services

The REACH (Restorative Environments Allowing Children Hope) division of Community Missions provides a safe haven for neglected, abused and troubled youth and young adults, ages 7-24. We provide services to the needy, homeless and emotionally disturbed populations in Niagara County and other neighboring counties as needed. Services include housing, case management, outreach, counseling, and restorative justice circle work.

This year marks the 33rd year that the Niagara County Community Libraries and other community supporters have graciously sponsored the “Tidings of Joy” campaign benefiting youth in our programs. We are pleased to say the positive response to this project has always been overwhelming. It provides our youth with many necessities such as clothing, hygiene items, leisure activities, toys, games and so much more to help make the holiday spirit a little brighter.

In 1990, Susan E. Kotlarz (director of the Niagara Falls Youth Bureau) designed and implemented this fundraising project for all the youth and young adults in the CMI youth services programs. At that time, Sue set up a Christmas tree with paper ornaments, describing each youth’s “wish” for a gift. Patrons of the Niagara Falls Library then took an ornament and returned the gift, unwrapped, for CMI staff to distribute.

Susan assured that all the kids had several gifts, and often took the remaining ornaments from the tree, to personally solicit donations so gifts could be purchased. We are also aware that she purchased gifts on her own.

With the unexpected passing of Sue in May 2023, we have decided to honor her spirit by renaming this project the “Susan E. Kotlarz Tidings of Joy Campaign.” Each year, we will continue to remember Sue and her commitment to our youth and the true spirit of Christmas.

We would appreciate your consideration of a donation for the “Tidings of Joy” project. Our ornament trees with specific gift ideas or suggestions are displayed at libraries in Lockport, Sanborn, North Tonawanda and Lewiston. We hope that you might help our youth, who often cannot return home for the holidays. We also accept tax-deductible monetary donations, which can be mailed to CMI “Tidings of Joy” Project, 1570 Buffalo Ave., Niagara Falls, NY 14303.

Thank you for your time and consideration. Any gift would be accepted, and know that no gift is ever too small. For further information, please feel free to contact the REACH offices at 716-285-3403, ext. 2231. We look forward to hearing from you!

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