History and Mission
Direct Effect Charities was founded in 2001 by husband and wife, Paul Fitzgerald and Michelle DiGiacomo. Their dream was to start a charity that directly affected children in need. In short, to cut out the "middleman" and create programs where the donor could give directly to the recipient. They took over Jeff Zaslow's "Letters to Santa" program, which he started as a young newspaper columnist and have added other programs over the past 18 years.

Donors come from all walks of life and have one thing in common; the pure joy they receive from the act of giving. Since inception, the lives of hundreds of thousands of children have been touched, through the generosity of countless individuals, high schools and corporations throughout the city and suburbs. You can be assured that when supporting Direct Effect, your donation will go directly to a child or school in need.

Sadly, Paul passed away in 2008 but Michelle has continued the vision and now runs the charity with the help of four wonderful directors. In 2017, Direct Effect expanded its work to Orange County, California.

Blair Early Childhood Center

“As the Principal at Blair Early Childhood Center I am humbled by the enormous influence which Direct Effect Charities has had upon countless organizations, pairing companies with those groups who most need their assistance and enhancing the lives of hundreds of children. This is no small feat. The fact that Direct Effect Charities has been able to provide this service over so many years is a testament to their dedication and deep belief that each of us can be of service to one another and change the lives of those in need by recognizing poverty and other burdens suffered by our children and offering some relief from their hardships, improving their lives in some small way. I emphatically recommend supporting Direct Effect Charities and its mission to enhance and improve the lives of impoverished children each and every day.”  

Karen A. Bryer
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Patrick Henry School

“The Santa Letter Program has boosted our school climate and culture during the most difficult time of the year for many of our families.   Throughout this program, students learned the difference between needs and wants and wrote letters where they expressed those needs.   Our students know that life can be tough and challenging because they see it first hand every day in their homes, but it shows them that there are people in the world today who really care about their well being and the development of our future. Our students learned life-lessons that helped build their confidence and will inspire them to give back to the community. “  


Juan Gutierrez
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Southside Occupational Academy

“Our school is a transitional center dedicated to the educational needs of students with disabilities, aged 16-21. Our instructional program is quite unique in that we provide classes to students to build skills necessary to transition into adult life.  We are proud to be included in the Letters to Santa program. This year, Direct Effect expanded the program and provided students with backpacks for the start of school, sent boxes of hygiene items in September and found enough donors to answer a letter for a student want and a student need for our entire student population. Our  school is a better place thanks to Direct Effect Charities and we are in awe of their services.”  


Josh Long
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