St. Vincent de Paul gets more than it gives

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My church operates a non-profit organization called St. Vincent de Paul which is a food bank for people in need.

Job losses and the deteriorating economy have increased the traffic for the past few months, so I drifted over there this morning to help distribute the bags of groceries. It seemed like a chore, but it turned into something so much more.

Half way into the morning a woman came in with two young boys.  They caught my attention because the boys looked just like the kids on “A Christmas Story.”  Remember?  Ralphie and his little brother, (?).  They even wore glasses.

The mother wore a short sleeved tee shirt despite sub-freezing temperatures.  Our host came over and told us the mother didn’t own a coat.  After we got over our shock and awe that anyone could endure that kind of cold, a voice from above reminded me I have a coat closet stuffed with jackets I can’t seem to toss.

Since I only live a couple of blocks from the church I sneaked away and went tearing through my coat closet.  I found four coats that I’ll probably never wear again and a few sweaters.  The boys worried me most.  My coats are shades of hot pink and  purple.  But I found a Superbowl 35 jacket given me by an NFL official, and a camouflage jacket one of my boys left behind.

I raced back over with my bundle and took it to the back of the church. I told Mike, our leader, to offer them without giving away from whence they came. I could kind of play Santa.

I fully intended for the little family to take them all.  But get this…Mike told me the woman began to cry and picked my fleece lined car coat dating to 1998.  (It WAS fabulous in its day.)  She refused to take another.  She said someone had already given her boys coats and she wanted us to give the rest to someone else in need.

She walked over to me with tears running down her face and gave me a huge hug.  (Obviously, Mike ratted me out.) She looked absolutely fabulous – the way I may have looked 10 years ago….Nah.

She looked better in it than I ever did.

6 thoughts on “St. Vincent de Paul gets more than it gives

  1. Emily—-I was crying by the time I finished your article. I will clean out my closet this afternoon. Let me know where to take it.

  2. Shirley – how nice. But we’re really not set up to handle clothing. We receive our food from the Mississippi Food Network (along with congregational donations).

    We meet on Fridays to fill up the bags, then the clients come in on Saturday morning to pick them up. It’s all very professional and the clients are recertified each year according to their incomes, etc. Since we received a federal grant to fund part of the program, we get audited and must play by their rules.

    So, I guess I’ll leave the coats in my car and maybe next Saturday I’ll spy someone else who needs a warm coat. (I’m giving Jack’s Super Bowl Jacket back – obviously it’s not safe with me.)

  3. Please tell me contact person at your church that could answer questions about grants, Mississippi Food Network, etc. — we have a Food Pantry and I would like to pass this info along if possible. Thanks

  4. Mike Couvillion heads up the program for us. Her phone number is 323-5776. She does a great job with outr program and I’m sure she would be happy to share information. In addition to the food we distribute for the Mississippi Food Network, we put together something called J-boxes from goods donated by our parrishioners. I asked what J stood for and they looked at me like I was crazy. (It stands for Jesus, of course, duh.)

  5. Thanks for the heartwarming story. Such a good reminder of how something that seems so simple to us like an old coat, a couple of hours of our time, a kind word or even just a smile can have such an impact on someone’s life.

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