Started in Paris in 1833 by a 20-year-old law student, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul continues to help families in need 180 years later.
“We feed, clothe, house and heal people in need,” Mary Chou-Thompson, St. Vincent de Paul communications manager, explained to News/Talk 92.3 KTAR’s Bruce St. James Show on Friday. “We make sure they have the services they need to get back on their feet and be self-sufficient.”
St. Vincent de Paul has 80 parish-based food pantries that serve their related neighborhoods. They also provide 3,500 meals in their five dining rooms all across Valley everyday.
While many think of SVdP as a food pantry organization, Chou-Thompson hoped people will realize they do so much more.
“Of course, food is a big thing, but people also need clothing for job interviews and counseling and healthcare, dental care for kids,” she said.
Despite the hopeful economic upturn, many Valley families are not feeling the effects, despite being employed.
“A lot of these families have jobs — a lot of them work two jobs, even — and they’re just living paycheck to paycheck, so just one car issue or one unexpected medical expense is enough to just put you over the edge where you just can’t make it,” Chou-Thompson said.
While food is a big concern for these families, especially during the holidays, Chou-Thompson stressed both the importance and the uniqueness of the organization’s thrift stores.
“One of the great things about our thrift stores is yes, like normal thrift stores, we generate income to support our programs, but we also work with our food pantries to give out vouchers to families who can’t afford a bed or a kitchen dining table,” she explained. “They can come in and purchase these things for free with our gift cards.”
If you are looking to help St. Vincent de Paul this holiday season, check out their website at StVincentdePaul.net. It has information abut donations, drop-off locations for clothing, thrift store locations and holiday events.
Chou-Thompson also hopes you’ll think of St. Vincent de Paul when it comes time to get rid of those old summer or winter clothes.
“We always have a need for new socks and men’s clothing. We don’t get a lot of that donated, so those are things we always need throughout the year,” Chou-Thompson said.