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St. Vincent de Paul Society collecting food donations

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POSTED November 20, 2013 1:08 a.m.

St. Vincent de Paul Society of St. Anthony of Padua Church is expecting to distribute Thanksgiving food baskets to needy families on Tuesday, Nov. 26.

“That’s the general number that we serve. Maybe a few more, maybe less. We’ve done that every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas,” said longtime volunteer and former president Al DeGroot.

The distribution will take place from 8:30 a.m. until noon. To avoid long lines and traffic at the St. Vincent de Paul office, recipients are staggered throughout the morning and arrive only at the appointed time that has been pre-scheduled when they signed up.

Each family is given a full bag of canned goods, dry mashed potatoes, cereal or oatmeal, pork and beans, green beans, corn, rice, powdered milk, and bread, among others, said DeGroot. Some families receive turkeys, but others, “because they’re not familiar with turkey,” would rather have ham.” Chicken is usually given to smaller families.

With the Christmas food distribution coming up on the heels of Thanksgiving, St. Vincent de Paul Society will continue to collect donations – cash as well as non-perishable food such as canned goods. Continuing donations also help keep their food inventory and their pantry adequately stocked for the daily food requests. Volunteers are available at the Society’s building located between the church and the rectory Monday to Friday from 1 to 3:45 p.m. for the daily dispensation of emergency food to those in need.

Sometimes, people coming in ask for clothes. They may accommodate those requests “if we have the right size” for, say, a pair of pants, DeGroot explained. “You can only give what you got.”

As for clothes, shoes, and socks for children, “we don’t get too much of that” from donors, so the organization buys some of those items. That’s where cash donations are needed, to make up for any dearth of requested things.

Since this ministry of the Catholic church is entirely run by volunteers, donated funds can be stretched further to help more families and individuals in need. It has been that way for the St. Anthony of Padua group for more than three decades since it started, as it has always been since it was founded by St. Vincent de Paul in the early 1800s in Paris. Even the small building that volunteers use was built entirely by volunteers. One of the volunteers was a general contractor.

Cash donations come in from a wide variety of sources.

Every fifth Sunday of the month, a special offering taken during each Mass is earmarked for the work of St. Vincent de Paul.

Non-profit organizations such as the Raymus Foundation make a donation every year.

There are also individuals in the community who make a donation commitment on a regular basis anonymously, DeGroot said.

“We got a lot of good support,” he said.

J.R. Simplot donates food every year. “They’ve been doing that for a number of years,” said DeGroot.

A large portion of the food that goes up in the distribution pantry also comes from the goods that the Manteca Post Office collects every year.  The Boy Scouts likewise steps up to the plate with food donations for Thanksgiving.

The students of St. Anthony’s School help in the give-away efforts during the holidays as well. “As a matter of fact, they have a food drive next week,” DeGroot said.

The only fund-raiser that directly benefits St. Vincent de Paul Society every year is the omelet breakfast held every first Sunday of December in the St. Anthony School gymnasium. That day falls on Dec. 1 this year. Breakfast will be served by volunteers, many of them regular workers of St. Vincent de Paul, from 8 a.m. until noon. Tickets will be available at the door.

When people trust what you are doing, “people will donate. We’re lucky that way,” DeGroot said of the unstinting support they have been receiving from generous organizations and individuals through the years.

“You got to be reliable with what you’re doing with donations. What comes in goes out the front door, not the back door,” he said.

In fact, he added, “every meeting that we have, everybody donates a little bit. Not big money, but we donate to our cause.”

Donations in kind or cash may be dropped off at the St. Vincent de Paul office any time between 1 and 3:45 p.m. Monday to Friday when they are open.

For more information about the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Manteca, and how to donate, call (209) 823-8099.

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