Society quietly works behind the scenes to help others

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Sir: The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul has just celebrated 50 years in operation at our Chatham Thrift Store. Yet, we feel we are the forgotten charity in the Municipality of Chatham-Kent, and get very little recognition for the daily good works that are done to assist the poor.

A few points of interest regarding the society:

• All money donated to our society stays in the Chatham-Kent area supporting all the work done on behalf of those in need, and helps fund the summer camp, which operates during July and August.

The summer camp, which is now known as Camp Vincent, has been in operation since 1971. The first year, 72 children were accommodated; we now accommodate upwards of 720 children per season with varied programs on a weekly basis.

• There are 76 active members of the society across the Deanery who attended 1,167 visits by those in need serving 1,377 adults and 940 children for the year 2012.

• A total of 55 children were sent to camp sponsored by the conferences.

• Transportation was provided to two people for weekly church attendance, and one person was transported to Chatham or London for dialysis treatment weekly.

• Our two stores (Blenheim and Chatham site) filled 97 vouchers for goods required. New education and loan programs are also available. Help is provided for the various Christmas hamper programs in the area.

• School breakfast programs are also assisted in the Ridgetown area.

As you can see, our volunteers are dedicated and busy, and funds donated through the parishes must be judiciously handed out in a fair way to make it go further so we may help the most people. Our numbers in need grow in all our areas.

Our ability to carry out these programs comes from revenues generated from our store. Donations of goods (clothing, housewares and gently used furniture) are always welcome and badly needed. We have a pick-up available and all you have to do is call to be put on the pick-up schedule. We do not accept gas appliances, refrigerators, or sofa beds. Tax receipts are issued upon request.

As with everything else, the camp is feeling its age and much work is needed to keep it up to par. Donations of money and time and expertise, as well as the weekly fees, go towards keeping the camp up and running, but capital expenses are always a challenge to cover, so we ask those who may have previously attended camp to try to support us in any way possible so that their children and grandchildren can also go to camp.

As I have shown, we are quietly out there doing the work and though we do not do it for praise or recognition we need people to know that we are here.

We recently recognized long-term members with certificates, and collectively, seven people have been members for 230 years of service and two more will be recognized this fall for a collective 90 years of service. It should be said that all these members are still active in the society.

Valerie Butterfield,

President, Particular council

Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Chatham-Kent

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