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Thankful for St. Vincent de Pauls help with food
St. Vincent de Paul Society volunteer Ronald LePlume does a quick visual inventory of canned goods. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO
Even the driving rain could not erase the smile off Lorina’s rain-soaked face as she walked to her car, both arms full of Thanksgiving goodies from St. Vincent de Paul Society.

Her thin hoodie getting saturated, she did not seem to mind the discomfort at all as she generously lent her umbrella to someone who was caught in the Tuesday morning torrent without any protection.

“I’m struggling. I have a child who is developmentally challenged. And now, everybody is struggling,” she said, noting the still dismal economy that has prompted her and many others to seek a hand-up from places and programs like St. Vincent de Paul. As she continued to talk, she kept on smiling even as raindrops ran like rivulets down her face.

She was one of several-dozen area residents who got caught in the mid-morning rainstorm when they went to pick up their food baskets for Thanksgiving Day. Distribution started just before 9 a.m. Those who were on the early list escaped being drenched. Food-basket recipients had to sign up beforehand and received a number which specified what time they needed to come and pick up their goodies.

Pete Padron, St. Vincent de Paul president this year, said they had about 370 signed up this year. That’s a little more than they had on their roster last year.

“We originally planned to sign up 300 to 350, so we went a little over that a little bit. But this year, we had a really good collection during last Sunday’s St. Vincent de Paul collection so we decided to list some more (people),” explained longtime volunteer Mary McCleary who was one of the more than a dozen volunteers on Tuesday who helped fill the food baskets. Among the volunteers were three Sierra High School students who are members of a parish youth group called Anthony’s Angels. Josh Wieland, his sister Sara, and Joy Hessler were also on hand to help in the philanthropic effort. Josh was responsible for handing out the frozen turkeys at the front counter.

The church holds a special collection for the St. Vincent de Paul Society during Sunday masses of every month of the year that has a fifth Sunday. They also receive annual donations from Raley’s, the Raymus Foundation, J.R. Simplot of Lathrop, as well as many generous individuals from the community who don’t belong to the parish. Some of the turkeys given away came from the Manteca Second Harvest Food Bank.

In addition to the fifth-Sunday mass collections, St. Vincent de Paul Society holds an annual breakfast fund-raiser every first Sunday of December. This is the only fund-raising activity that is sponsored by the outreach ministry during the year. The next breakfast fund-raiser will take place Sunday, Dec. 5, in the St. Anthony’s gymnasium. Called the Christmas Omelet Eggstravaganza, the event will be held from 8 a.m. until noon. Tickets are $7 each for adults, $3 for children age 10 and under. Advance tickets can be purchased by calling Cherie Weiland at (209) 239-1431, or Pete Padron at 482-7246. Tickets also will be available at the door.

All proceeds go to the needy in the community. During the past 10 months, according to the latest report from the outreach program, St. Vincent de Paul has assisted 4,160 families and 8,006 adults as well as 6,344 children in terms of food and clothing. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of people asking for help due to the weak economy, according to St. Vincent de Paul members.
Not a penny is budgeted for administration or staff of St. Vincent de Paul. It is totally run by devoted volunteers.

For more information about this ministry, how to make a donation or to become a volunteer, call l(209) 823-8099. Even the small building located behind the rectory that houses St. Vincent de Paul Society was donated and constructed entirely by volunteers.