Society continues what priest started
By Stephen Groessel
Stephen Groessel photos
Vincent de Paul store volunteers (from left) Jerry Neils, Ron Meyer and Jim Udovich use a work bench full of different hand tools to tear down donated items retaining usable parts and placing the leftover metal parts in a bin for recycables.
Vincent de Paul Store volunteer John Adleman uses a hydraulic lift to transport items in large cardboard containers in the storage area of the store. Below, volunteers Dan Heus (left) and Gene Anderson test and repair most donated electronics which are put on sale at the store. “If it has a chord or a battery, we work on it,” Anderson said. Items range from toasters to DVDs.
Heimermann underscored. Last summer about 50 jackets that were given to Christmas Cheer program recipients were dry cleaned and had broken zippers fixed by an area anonymous person at a very low cost. Those jackets not given away through the holiday program were sold at the store. Store volunteers are shown a measure of appreciation during the holidays with a dinner and entertainment. This past year the Red Star Express entertained 70 volunteers at the Altona Supper Club. The store can be reached at 894-7834.

Vincent de Paul was born in France in 1580, the third of six children. His parents were peasants.

Ordained a priest in 1600, Vincent devoted his entire life (he died in 1660) to the alleviation of human suffering and misery. His work with the poor and his preaching attracted widespread attention. At one point in his life he ministered to galley slaves and served as chaplain to the galley slaves waiting to be shipped abroad. Eventually he founded the Vincentians, who devoted themselves to missionary work among the peasants of France.

Later, it was Frederic Ozanam who in imitation of Vincent de Paul founded the Society of Vincent de Paul with the mission to serve the needs of the poor.

The Vincent De Paul store in Kiel and identical stores elsewhere adopt the spirit and intent of Vincent de Paul by serving the poor. Members of local Vincent De Paul conferences reach out to the poor in imitation of Jesus Christ who after entering the synagogue in Nazareth on the Sabbath read the passage aloud that included the words “He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor.” (Luke 4: 18)

When people of the community donate usable items to the Vincent De Paul store and when others buy items from the store they are supporting the Vincent de Paul mission of helping the indigent to live in comfort and dignity.

To achieve its mission the Vincent De Paul store relies on a large number of volunteers whose commitment allows the work of Vincent de Paul to continue in this day and age.

Volunteers who work at the store make the mission to the poor achievable. They enable the store to sell donated items to the public at a very reasonable price and those profits are used to assist the poor.

A service which the Vincent De Paul store offers is picking up from area households clean furniture and other household items that are in good condition. The store is in much need of men willing to pick up these items. The store owns a cab truck equipped with a power lift which volunteers use to perform this work. The work calls for some heavy lifting on the part of volunteers.

Getting things organized

Thanks to the regular volunteers the store and storage area are ever more organized and arranged so as to be more helpful to shoppers. Items on display are appropriately categorized, marked and priced. The furniture area is arranged into settings reflective of a typical home. Although volunteers do not wash clothing items donated, by exception they will take home certain quality but soiled items and wash them at home and bring them back.

A noteworthy thing is when individuals who have been helped by Vincent de Paul agree to volunteer at the store. Reciprocating in this fashion is encouraged, said Heimermann.

During the height of the rummage sale season, more homeowners are willing to part with items they are unable to sell. Vicki Heimermann who is the manager of the Kiel store said the store has stretched its geographic area to include donors in places such as Manitowoc, Mt. Calvary and Cleveland. In doing so, it has found that more quality items have been made available to the store.

Heimermann said the numbers of donations to the store during the holidays was twice as many as the previous year. Volunteers are just now completing the sorting of those items. A couple of the male volunteers whose

talents lie in electronics volunteer to test and repair electronic items donated to the store. Items range from battery run things to things that require electrical cords.

Other volunteers apply their talents toward tearing down inoperable items and salvaging parts from them for future use. The leftovers are placed in a recyclable bin.

Heimermann is delighted to say that volunteer groups who spend time helping out at the store can make a significant dent in the workload.

Teens from two religious education classes at Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic Parish volunteered recently in groups of fours to tackle the display of donated books, and the hanging of pictures and curtains. The work included preparing for display 25 donated artificial Christmas trees. “It was a good group and they were enjoyable to have here,” Heimermann said.

“Whether it be cashiers, dish washers, markers, displayers or store workers straightening out things, crews of volunteers coming in just step up and help and I don’t know what we would do without them,” Heimermann said.

This is the second year that the Vincent De Paul store has managed the Christmas Cheer program which reaches out to area families with children who need help in making Christmas a happier occasion. This year the program was especially fortunate with the number of donations, so much so that the store only needed to purchase a small number of gifts. Heimermann said this year the program benefited 60 families, numbering 180 children.

Besides the store itself, K&M Piggly Wiggly in Kiel was again instrumental in serving as a major drop-off point for gifts. Besides gifts, folks could donate a $25 Piggly Wiggly family food card which entitled a family to a turkey and all the trimmings for the holiday. The names of Christmas Cheer program recipients which are referred by churches, schools and the City of Kiel remain confidential,