Catholic Free Press

Catholic Free Press Digital Edition

  • Dec
  • 29

New clothes for Christmas? We have a place for your old ones

Posted By December 29, 2011 | 12:14 pm | Lead Story #2
IMG_1364 clothes WEB

By Tanya Connor

Got new clothes? For Christmas, maybe?
Got to make room for them? By giving away some old ones, maybe?
A Catholic agency would like them – to help it help local people in need.
You can drop all types of clothes, shoes, bedding and towels inside any of those white and blue bins that say “Society of St. Vincent de Paul.” (However, don’t leave donations outside the bins like litter.)
There are 22 such bins in the City of Worcester, and 51 more in several towns in Worcester County, according to Frances Pike, executive director of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in the Diocese of Worcester.
The Society, named for the 17th century French priest famed for his service to the poor, is the only Catholic agency in the diocese with such bins, Mrs. Pike said.
She said it would be nice if Catholics donated to this non-profit agency, which helps people in Worcester and Worcester County. Similar collection bins belong to some other agencies which are for-profit, even if they give a charity a percentage of what they make on donations, she said.
“We are a prayerful group,” Mrs. Pike said of St. Vincent de Paul Society members. “We encourage our Vincentians to know their faith and                                                                                                                                              to see the face of God in the poor they serve.”
“The Society of St. Vincent de Paul offers tangible assistance to those in need on a person-to-person basis,” says its website “It is this personalized involvement that makes the work of the Society unique. This aid may take the form of intervention, consultation, or often through direct dollar or in-kind service. … The Society recognizes that it must assume, also, a role of advocacy for those who are defenseless or voiceless. Some 12 million persons are helped annually by Vincentians in the United States.”
Mrs. Pike said the international Society has three district councils in the Worcester Diocese – Central, North and South. They are made up of conferences, or parish-based groups – 14 in Worcester, and nine each in South County and North County.
Conferences provide such services as food pantries and financial assistance for utility bills, Mrs. Pike said.
The central council runs a thrift store at 507 Park Ave., in Worcester, where donations are sold to any interested shopper, and some clothes are given to those in need, she said.
Donations of clothes, shoes, bedding, towels and other cloth items can be dropped in the bins or brought to the thrift store, Mrs. Pike said. Other donations, including dishes, pans, working lamps and other household items, can be brought to the store. Donors can arrange for the pick up of six or more bags.
Mrs. Pike said the store accepts books; some customers like to read, and unusable books can be sold for recycling. However, they do not want furniture, because they have too little space, or toys, because of the liability, or electronics, because of the cost of disposing of unusable items, she said.
Donations of items help the store serve fire victims, and monetary donations help buy new cribs and crib mattresses for pregnant women in crisis referred by the pro-life agency Problem Pregnancy, Mrs. Pike said.
Individuals can help the Society’s ministry not only by donating, but by shopping at the store, open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, Mrs. Pike said. Individuals, churches, business, etc. can also help by lending space on their property for a clothes collection bin.
Volunteers are also helpful. After all, donations brought to the store need sorting.
Clothes can be in any condition, although some donors are nice enough to wash and fold them, Mrs. Pike said.
The store hires a company in Northborough to collect the donations from the bins and take them to its warehouse, where they are sorted, she said. The company delivers to the store items fit to sell, or store representatives can pick them up from the warehouse when needed.
“The clothes that are good we sell in the store” at prices, comparable to or below other such stores, Mrs. Pike said.
And, she said, “we give away at least $1,000 a month in free clothes.”
It works this way. St. Vincent de Paul gives vouchers for free clothes to agencies who serve those in need. These agencies give the vouchers to their clients, who can then shop for free clothes at the thrift store.
Clothes unfit to sell or even give away also help them serve others, Mrs. Pike said. The society sells such clothes to a recycler, who sorts them, exporting some of the cloth to other countries. (You might find it in the stuffing of your next car.)
“Only one percent ends up in the landfill,” Mrs. Pike said of the cloth. “So we’re doing a service. I look at it as social justice, keeping our planet clean.”
St. Vincent de Paul uses the money it makes from the donations to help its clients – directly or for operating expenses, she said.

The St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store can be reached at 508-752-4232.