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Good Neighbors: Christmas Blessing

'Tis the season of giving and a charity called "Christmas Blessing" is making sure children and adults in WNY will have special gifts this year.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Kate Tolley Gerlach, of North Buffalo, says her father, John, hated how commercialized Christmas had become. So the year before his sudden passing in 2019, her family wanted to do its part to change that.

"We decided the year before he passed away that we would no longer give each other gifts, we would give to someone that was in need," she said.

And that is how their charity "Christmas Blessing" began.

They originally helped just one family, but Kate and her two sisters knew they could do so much more. So they started a Go Fund Me campaign, partnered with Sweet Buffalo, and 15 businesses joined in to donate and become gift drop off sites.

"It's been mind-blowing to watch," said Gerlach. "We couldn't do this without the community's support and we are so grateful."

So many have offered to help because so many are in need, especially during the pandemic.

"Families that have never had financial crises think, 'How am I going to pay my mortgage and give my kids a Christmas when I don't have a job?'"

Thanks to generous donations, almost 70 children will have their Christmas wishes granted, more than 2 dozens other families with receive gifts, and dozens of homeless men and women in Buffalo will receive backpacks filled with essentials, which they'll receive on Christmas.

In all, about 200 men, women, and children in Western New York will receive a Christmas Blessing. 

"They say we're the City of Good Neighbors, but we ARE the City of Good Neighbors because no one wants to see each other fail," said Gerlach.

And what would her dad think of Gerlach's efforts?

"Would my dad be proud? Yeah, he would. But my dad would say we were brought to earth to give what we can and we always give our best."

They will continue to collect donations at the drop-off sites through Christmas Eve and monetary donations can be made through the Go Fund Me. Click here for a link, and a list of the business that are drop-off sites. 

Credit: WGRZ
Kate Tolley Gerlach, of North Buffalo, sits surrounded by the gifts that will be distributed to hundreds of needy Western New Yorkers thanks to her family's charity "Christmas Blessing."


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