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Local need ‘is not just something we read about’
POULSBO — It could be someone you know: The adult who’s inadequately dressed for winter, the teen with holes in his or her clothes, the child with the sniffles.
Mary Elizabeth Reynolds said her volunteer work at St. Vincent de Paul keeps her in touch with the struggles of many individuals and families in the greater Poulsbo area — those who make the choice of spending on food or utilities, those for whom the holiday season in a land of abundance is more a time of stress than cheer.
“It’s real. It’s not just something we read in the paper,” she said.
Fortunately, giving to the Poulsbo Lions/Raab Foundation Bellringer Fund enables the Society of St. Vincent de Paul to meet human needs not just during the holiday season, but year-round.
Money donated to the Poulsbo Lions/Raab Foundation Bellringer Fund is given to North Kitsap Fishline and St. Vincent de Paul to administer during the year as needs arise. Formerly, the organizations had to call the fund each time there was a need.
Reynolds said St. Vincent de Paul has accommodated 498 requests for assistance this year — and money from the fund helped the organization meet those needs.
“We use the fund to help people pay their rent or power bills or water bills, or maybe they need just a little bit of gas to get to doctor appointments,” Reynolds said. “If their medicine isn’t terribly expensive, we can pay for medicine. If they have special diets, we often run a check to one of the [stores] and buy the food for them. We do what we can.”
Reynolds said St. Vincent de Paul uses the fund the whole year, “but some years [the money’s] been gone by March or April.”
The Poulsbo Lions/Raab Foundation Bellringer Fund is one of three major sources of funds for St. Vincent de Paul. The organization also receives donations from St. Olaf’s Parish, and receives funds from ShareNet so it can extend its services to Eglon, Hansville, Indianola, Kingston, Little Boston and Port Gamble.
“Less than 1 percent of our funding goes to administrative costs — phone and postage,” Reynolds said. “Volunteers bring in office supplies. We have no salaried or paid people. We’re strictly volunteer.”
Next for St. Vincent de Paul: Food donations will be accepted for Christmas food baskets Dec. 19, 4-7 p.m., at St. Olaf’s Church. Recipients will pick up the baskets Dec. 20, noon to 2 p.m. The giving “is the most incredible thing in the world to see,” Reynolds said. “We provided 83 Thanksgiving baskets and we hope to have at least that amount for Christmas.” The baskets — they are boxes, actually — include enough food to feed a family, including turkey or ham, foil, bread, canned goods, gravy mix, milk, pasta, salad and dressing, and dessert. “Some people include a gift for the family,” Reynolds said.
Young people, such as student groups and scout troops, help out. The generosity of others — and the need of their neighbors — “spurs them to do it another year,” Reynolds said. “I have a granddaughter who’s helped out for 10 years. Every year, she asks, ‘Grandma, are we going to do baskets this year?’ It’s a wonderful way to teach young people that the need is real.”
She added, “It’s what Christmas is all about — love and happiness and giving and caring. Wasn’t that the reason Jesus was born?”
CONTACT: St. Vincent de Paul, 18943 Caldart Ave. NE, Poulsbo. 360-779-9980
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Donations are accepted year-round for the Poulsbo Lions/Raab Foundation Bellringer Fund. Mail to P.O. Box 1244, Poulsbo 98370. Donations can also be delivered to the North Kitsap Herald, 19351 8th Ave., Suite 106, Poulsbo. Donations are tax-deductible.
Here are this week’s donors.
— The Petersens: $250.
— Poulsbo Lions Evening Pride Branch: $300. We support the community.
— Stephen and Kristi Growdon: $100, in memory of Elaine Turner.
— Jay and Sandra Dahlquist: $750, in memory of Bernie & Dorothy and their pals Buster & Thor.
— Falkner Family: $200, in loving memory of Bill Falkner.
— Sandra and Gene Fullerton: $100, in memory of our families.
— Anonymous: $100, in memory of Irene Hagen.
— Anonymous: $100, in memory of Bill & Vi Longnecker.
— Ann Armstrong: $50, in memory of Ethan Smith.
— George and June Burt: $200, in loving memory of our daughter Laurie and parents Hjalmer & Agnes Olson.
— Victor and Beverly Clough: $50.
— Jan: $100, in loving memory of Glen and Jim Lofall.
— Marjorie Shields and Bob Strand: $20, in memory of Brian Pursey & Leo Strand.
— Anonymous: $100.
— The Scandia Pickled Herring Fest: $345. Merry Christmas once again!
— Love, Mel: $100, with a lifetime of loving memories of my wife Marjorie.
— Tom and Patty: $100. Merry Christmas, with loving memories of our mothers, Helen & Marge.
— Kathy, Roseann, Sandy and Patty: $100. Merry Christmas in honor of the “Christmas Girls.”
— The Richardson Family: $300, in memory of our father, George.
To-date total: $10,420
Gil and Carolyn Morales of Hansville said donating a box of food to St. Vincent de Paul reminds them of how fortunate they are. Carolyn said we are all a step away from a personal fiscal cliff. Richard Walker / 2012