The 2021 ShareLife campaign is a go despite the pandemic, supporting a variety of agencies, including Rose of Sharon for young mothers. Register file photo

ShareLife campaign off to a steady start

By 
  • May 8, 2021

Support for the 2021 ShareLife parish campaign is off to a promising start as the fundraising arm of the Archdiocese of Toronto has accumulated over $3.2 million following the first of three ShareLife Sundays.

Arthur Peters, executive director at ShareLife and the director of development for the Toronto archdiocese, says the figure is “comparable to previous years” as normally the first collection yields “between $3 to $4 million.”

While $3.2 million is on the lower end of that historical threshold, this figure is impressive considering it was raised without the aid of in-person services. A ShareLife collection weekend was slated for April 17-18, but public Masses have been suspended due to pandemic health protocols. 

Toronto Catholics have proved to be adaptable to this new landscape and have been donating online or via mailed payments to the ShareLife office. Peters said there was one day in late April when more than 400 donations arrived via mail. ShareLife has been keeping up awareness through testimonial videos, social media advertising, email blasts and message bumpers on livestreamed Masses. 

ShareLife has set a target of $13.8 million for its 2021 parish campaign, the same goal it had in 2020. Last year fell short, raising $11.68 million, but Peters was pleased nonetheless considering the global economic devastation that defined last year, when parishes were closed for much of the campaign period.

Just like previous years, money raised by ShareLife, founded in 1976, will directly benefit more than 40 agencies supporting families in crisis, people with special needs, refugees, children and youth, the elderly and victims of domestic violence.

Peters says the level of on-the-fly adaptation executed by these agencies to stay operational cannot be underestimated.

“The agencies are called upon to do even more work now, and they’ve had to make significant changes to their operations,” said Peters. “Counselling is provided remote. Being able to support a family with a developmentally-disabled adult is done remotely instead of in person — these are challenges.”

Peters is grateful to all those who have chipped in with donations to date.

“We’re very grateful. It is so tough right now with COVID, but our parishioners have embraced the importance of ShareLife agencies and are reaching out to provide wonderful support.”

If the  pandemic somehow takes a turn for the better over the next month, it will be possible the  the second ShareLife collection weekend June 19-20 to take place with fewer restrictions on church attendance. The value of these weekends is immense considering there are 225 parishes in the Archdiocese of Toronto. A third and final ShareLife weekend is slated for Oct. 2-3.

Running in conjunction with ShareLife’s parish campaign are ShareLife’s school campaign and its corporate fundraising efforts. According to the ShareLife website, the “business community raised $795,527 in 2020 for ShareLife’s social service agencies.”

Peters says even though it’s early in the campaign, ShareLife is “encouraged by what we see” in terms of the businesses expressing interest in supporting the campaign. Historically Canada’s banks have provided steady support year after year.

For more on the 2021 ShareLife campaign, visit sharelife.org.

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