MIAMI | Cancer and infirmities. Unemployed with a growing stack of bills. Single parenthood. The struggles of adapting to life in a new country, while living in fear of deportation. Starting over again after Hurricane Irma took nearly everything.
Those situations contradict the picturesque holiday trimmings and jolliness of the Christmas season, but they represent the harsh reality that many are living.
Still, the Christmas season is meant to continuously renew a sense of hope. And 155 individuals nominated by archdiocesan churches, schools and organizations will get a little extra help this year from one of Santa’s helpers: Archbishop Thomas Wenski.The Heart of Christmas benefit, using funds raised at the archdiocesan Anniversary Gala held every five years, in 2016 distributed gift cards totaling $32,700 to 97 needy families in South Florida.

Through his Heart of Christmas program — which was designed six years ago to assist families in need during the holidays — the archdiocese will provide each of the 155 nominees with a $250 Visa gift card to help them during the Christmas season. 
Despite their difficulties, many of the nominees find time to serve their parish and school communities as volunteers, receptionists, religious education teachers and extraordinary ministers of Communion. Others are struggling parents who sacrifice themselves to keep their children in Catholic schools, because they value the quality of education they offer.
“The Heart of Christmas brings hope and joy to many struggling families and reminds us that Christmas is more about good deeds than merely good feelings,” said Archbishop Wenski.