United Way’s reason to be thankful this season (and how you can help)

Marissa and

Guest opinion originally published in the Bucks County Courier Times and The Intelligencer, Tuesday, November 24.

Marissa Christie, President & CEO at United Way of Bucks County

I love the holidays: the anticipation, the nostalgia, and the rituals. My heart fills with gratitude every time I introduce my children to a family tradition. 

Science (and virtually everyone I know) says I am not alone. Holidays serve an important function for many people. They are our “anxiety buffers.” The average adult makes about 35,000 decisions in a day. Holiday traditions give us some structure. They guide what we do and how we do it. At my house, holidays are variations on a theme. I don’t have to compose anything brand new.

This year, for countless reasons, the holidays will not be the anxiety buffers many people need. Every person in our community is navigating choppy waters. We are just in different boats.

At United Way of Bucks County, my colleagues and I see the challenges folks are facing up close. Since March, we’ve served about 30,000 more people than we normally would.

We’ve worked days, evenings, and weekends to open and run a new HELP Center with our partners. Through our Healthy Eating and Living Partnership, United Way has already distributed more than $1 million worth of essential items to people who are struggling.

About 30% of the people seeking our help right now have not needed us in the past. That makes sense. Data tells us that pre-COVID, one in three county Bucks County residents had an income below the “survival budget.” That’s the amount needed to cover necessities and have money left at the end of the month. Common sense tells us that if you are living paycheck-to-paycheck, you can’t afford any short- or long-term loss of income.

Over the next week, we have an incredible opportunity to build on our work and help even more people.

Our friends Jane and Simon Hallett are offering us a challenge gift. If we can bring in 250 donations between now and midnight on Tuesday, December 1 – Giving Tuesday – they will make an incredibly generous $50,000 gift to our Community Support Campaign. Every donation, large or small, counts towards our goal.

Amidst stress and strain, uncertainty and fear, we can lighten a neighbor’s load. We can be the anxiety buffers.

There’s an old maxim that says, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

We are all facing challenges right now. If you are still feeling grateful and have the capacity to give this holiday season, please join me in making a gift of personal significance.

You will help us unlock a $50,000 challenge gift during a challenging time.

Visit www.uwbucks.org/makehopehappen to donate and learn more.


Join us in changing lives in Bucks County for good by making a donation today. Donations can be made online or by mailing a check to, United Way of Bucks County, 413 Hood Blvd., Fairless Hills, PA 19030.