Smith: Generosity Fuels The American Dream

Americans are great. We are a nation of givers – consistently ranking number one among all nations for our personal generosity to charitable causes. We are a determined people that refuse to accept poverty, injustice and disease without a fight. We are vigilant advocates for a better future albeit with often competing visions for what that future will be.

For nearly 100 years, Catholic Charities in Orange County has been part of the fabric of our community, serving the poorest of the poor. We are the starting line for the American Dream. We serve the down and out, the troubled, the refugee and the immigrant who come to our door, often as a last resort, to pick up the pieces and start over.

The holidays put a spotlight on our role in the community. This past weekend, more than 400 families visited our Cantlay Food Distribution Center in Santa Ana for our Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner distribution, which included a turkey, plus all the ingredients for a traditional dinner, all underwritten by the Knights of Malta, and distributed by their families and CCOC staff. The children all received from other donors a new T-shirt and each family 2 boxes of holiday lights. But more important than the bags of turkeys, vegetables, cranberries, bread and pies, there were smiles, hugs, joy and genuine gratitude from both the recipients and the volunteers and staff. We are indeed blessed.


More than 500,000 people in Orange County live at or below the poverty level. Aside from our special dinners for Thanksgiving and Easter, every month the Cantlay Center feeds more than 4500 people and that number is growing. Even while the local economy recovers from the “Great Recession”, we have seen a striking increase in the number of homeless people who come to us for help. It is a worrisome trend. Santa Ana is number 57 on the top 100 list of most impoverished cities in America.


We are in the business of hope, through life-sustaining services, help for the displaced or marginalized. In addition to food, the Cantlay Center also provides important necessities such as clothing, hygiene products and diapers – a lot of diapers. Catholic Charities provides counseling to enroll families in Cal Fresh and other assistance programs and help with finding housing, paying utilities and in some cases receiving immigration and naturalization services. In addition to the physical needs of our customers, we also attend to their spiritual and emotional health including various counseling and support groups for mental health issues, domestic violence and family counseling. In 2013, we inherited the New Hope 24-hour Crisis Counseling Hotline, a ministry established more than 50 years ago by the Crystal Cathedral Ministries and retained at the new Christ Cathedral. About 1200 people a month call in.

What makes America great is our heart, our determination and our optimism. For those starting out on the American journey, or who have stumbled on the path, we are here to help them now so they can “pay it forward” later. Tax deductible donations can be made by mail to Catholic Charities of Orange County at 1820 East 16th Street, Santa Ana, CA 92701, by credit card by calling 714-347-9628, or by visiting our website at

Tita Smith, LCSW, Executive Director, Catholic Charities of Orange County

Opinions expressed in editorials belong to the authors and not Voice of OC.

Voice of OC is interested in hearing different perspectives and voices. If you want to weigh in on this issue or others please contact Voice of OC Involvement Editor Theresa Sears at

  • BeeBee.BeeLeaves

    This is great. Our nation is of stronger fiber when the local threads are woven tightly. We all must give locally to our neighbors for our country to be strengthen nationally.

    I encourage all of us to give, shop, do locally.

    Support community banks and credit unions over big banks who we massively bailed out and in turn did nothing for us, small businesses, for our help to them. Jerks. Bail out on your big bank for Christmas or as your New Years resolution.

    Support local news like Voice of OC over main stream media who have turned out to be big fat liars about what is really going on in the whole world. Cancel cable and consider using that money instead for Voice, Democracy Now! WikiLeaks. Or small media that is truthful.

    Support local farmers. They are vital and family farms built this country early on. Government should support the littles more. Big factory farms are toxic corporate investments. We lose. Our health. Our lives.

    Be so busy being charitable collectively that it ripples out and affects our nation for greater good world wide. No more wars.

    • annomouse

      You need to take your own advice, you’ve been duped by fake news over and over again and posted that baloney here.
      I don’t where you get your “news”, but you definitely need to clean up your act and fact check your sources.

      • BeeBee.BeeLeaves

        Geez. The Thanksgiving weekend has not even finished and pop off goes the weasel rears its ugly head for more personal attacks. Because the spirit of Castro has walked in and you feel compelled to squash American freedom of speech?

        AmmunitionMouse … Clearly, you troll for hate. Enjoy your holidays. I will remain silent. Having better things to do than be attacked by you at every little turn on Voice of OC. Get a life. Perhaps recounting votes for that sell out Jill Stein in Wisconsin can get ya some extra money to spread good will towards your fellow man, woman, mouse.

        I will not enable you any more. Read above. Your need to personally attack me has nothing to do with Catholic Charities and your statement off topic is mean spirited and unAmerican.

        Sorry you lost Fidel. But happy to report that Germany is exporting 100K immigrants. Merkel was shamed in to accepting them when on behalf of Deutsche Bank Merkel asked for money from Quatar and Soros. Globalist have ruined the world. The world is finally fighting back. Local strength!

        God bless America and it’s freedoms!

        • annomouse

          Sorry, you don’t like the truth. You want to lecture others on where to get there news, yet I’ve caught you multiple times pushing fake news stories.
          You’re the one having trouble discerning fact from fiction.

          • BeeBee.BeeLeaves

            Again. This does not have anything to do with the above opinion piece on charity and generosity. You need to learn to troll wisely and match your rage to the topic at hand. And I too am sorry you do not like the truth. Last time your party was this blow out angry was when Republican Lincoln thankfully abolished Democrat imposed slavery. Move on.

          • annomouse

            What a hypocrite.

            YOU, yes YOU posted the following:

            “Support local news like Voice of OC over main stream media who have turned out to be big fat liars about what is really going on in the whole world. Cancel cable and consider using that money instead for Voice, Democracy Now! WikiLeaks. Or small media that is truthful.”

            That is what I was responding to. So don’t tell me to stick to the”topic at hand” when you rail and rant about any nutty thing that’s rolling around in that empty head of yours.

          • BeeBee.BeeLeaves

            Too much time Animosity Mouse.
            You need to do some charity work.

            If you consider WikiLeaks, Anonymous Ch 4 and all the on the ground, in the trenches, journalists I follow in Syria, Iraq, Israel “main stream media”, so be it. Go refer to snopes all you want or need to justify your all about me, myself and I self. Again, recommend you spend more time doing charitable good works than nitpicking to be revelant.

            Supervisor Do has some very good programs you can volunteer for.

            It’s still Thanksgiving Day weekend and I am grateful for an averted WW3 which warmonger Hillarity and her donors were taking us into. In the middle east they call it the “long war” and it was scheduled, yes scheduled, to be ongoing until 2020 with escalation in 2017.

            Your welcome.

            Happy holidays and a merry new year. Now, go away.

          • annomouse

            How dare you tell me to go away, you can go away!
            Your commentary is a jumble of phony conspiracy theories, disjointed rants and outright lies, in other words … a whole lot of nonsense.
            You aren’t EDIFYING anyone, so YOU should spend YOUR time in a more productive manner.

          • BeeBee.BeeLeaves

            Charity begins at home.

          • annomouse

            Well, good luck with you new POTUS.

            He seems to share your love of fake news and just making sh*t up. Your tin foil hats it seems are tuned in to the same wavelength.

            Really, it’s a match made in heaven.

          • BeeBee.BeeLeaves

            Okee dokee, pokey.
            Lotta celebrities said they were leaving if he won. Let’s see how many keep their word. Maybe they should try Cuba for a year.