As calendars are turned toward November and December, notices of food and coat drives, Toys for Tots boxes, Salvation Army bells and kettles, giving trees, and Christmas basket collections remind us of others less fortunate, and in those need of our help and support. This is often thought of as a “season of giving”. What about the other ten months? In Matthew 26:11, Jesus says “The poor you will always have with you.”
Organizations such as the Food Bank, Salvation Army, OASIS, and St. Vincent DePaul help provide needed items and services to those individuals and families throughout the year.
One of those is the St. Vincent DePaul and store, located within the village of Roscommon. Roughly 85 volunteers sort donations, and stock the store six days a week. Others work in client aid, assisting those in need of food, furniture, clothing, or financial assistance. The truck drivers for that facility, who are dispatched to pick up larger donated items, are the only two paid employees. Operation managers, Marvin and Martha Peplinski, oversee the general operation of the facility. Volunteers are ALWAYS needed, and do not need to be affiliated with a church to help.
The Peplinski’s shared that through August of this year, the Roscommon store client aid has assisted 334 families and 708 individuals, equaling 1302 individuals. Up to that time, clients had received 659 bags of food, with $2,232 paid toward utility bills, heating, mortgage and rent payments, car repairs and other needs, including clothing and furniture. As the weather turns colder, those needs and expenditures will increase.
Anyone who comes for aid needs to meet certain criteria and federal guidelines. However, client aid personnel may also consider other situations such as medical bills, sudden job loss, or house fire. When a person comes in, they go through an interview process to determine the best way they may be assisted. When a need is beyond the scope of what St. Vincent’s can provide, clients may be directed toward other agencies or churches.
The Roscommon location “has been blessed” the past couple years to have processed and packaged beef cattle donated once a year to fill their freezer, and another local couple donates chicken and ground beef from Bob’s Butcher shop. The store always has a supply of boxed and canned goods on hand that they purchase provided by the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. They currently have boxed milk on hand, which is always needed, but generally in short supply.
At the Roscommon store, monies generated from the sale of donated items and cash donations from churches and individuals, all go toward helping those in need. St. James, St. Hubert’s, and St. Michael’s churches have monthly collections they give to St. Vincent’s.
The Roscommon St. Vincent DePaul also “twins” with two other St. Vincent locations, one in West Virginia and one in Alabama. Those locations are some of the poorer communities in our nation. Martha commented that while the Alabama location primarily provided financial and goods to clients, the West Virginia location, being more remote and mountainous, was able to provide clients with vegetable seeds, chickens and other livestock with funds shared from the Roscommon store. Thereby, allowing those clients to have a continued source of fresh eggs, meat, or other foods produced.
While we tend to recognize the next couple months as a “season of giving”, the season of “need” is year-round. The impoverished, whether as a constant or due to medical issues, house fire, job loss, are always with us.
If in Roscommon, and in need of a Christmas basket this year, please stop in the Roscommon St. Vincent DePaul to apply. Applications must be in prior to December 1.
Those in the Prudenville/Houghton Lake area, need to apply at the Prudenville St. Vincent DePaul store.