Kiel store needs time as much as used items
By Stephen Groessel
Stephen Groessel photos
In search of accessories and furnishings at the Vincent de Paul store in Kiel, Paul Dale (above, left) gives his opinion on a snow picture which son Dustin Hubbartt selected. At right, St. Vincent de Paul store volunteer Mary Schneider works on supplying the card rack.

We all get them in the mail—the appeal letters from agencies and organizations that serve the needs of the poor, the homeless, and those who are disadvantaged for a variety of reasons.

Most of us cannot afford to give money to all of these noble causes, so it is necessary that we exercise common sense and narrow down the list to one or two, maybe three charities.

Not all solicitors ask for money. Instead, they ask that you volunteer your mental and physical skills and your talents. Or, they may ask that you donate gently used household items, clothing or furniture.

Although the Vincent de Paul store in Kiel asks that you donate your gently used clothes, furniture and other household items, it also has a great need for individuals willing to spend time at the store helping with a variety of tasks.

Although currently it has a generous list of dedicated volunteers, more are needed to handle specific tasks. Drivers are needed to pick up large donated items from homes. The store will provide the truck. Men are needed on Saturdays which are busy days at the store to assist folks in carrying purchased items to their cars or trucks.

Vicki Heimermann who manages the store in Kiel says sales and donations on Saturdays have been especially good. “Lately there has been twice as much coming in (donated) and going out. Having volunteers on hand to assist customers and donors is an important way to improve our service,” she said.

Among past volunteers, the Vincent de Paul store has relied on teens associated with religious education programs in making deliveries to nursing and assisted living facilities of gift packages containing personal items such as Kleenex, body wash, deodorant and the like. Heimermann said she will continue to tap that volunteer source.

While donations have been steady and appreciated, Heimermann continues to beg donors to restrain themselves from donating broken items, damaged goods, and clothing and items that ought to be discarded. Volunteers at the store spend an exorbitant amount of time throwing out donations that are not usable and are better junked. It is costly for the store to rent containers for discarding and disposing such items.

The annual volunteer appreciation dinner was held recently at the Altona Supper Club, New Holstein. Sixty-five people attended. Musical entertainment was provided by Merlyn Knier and his guys. An important advantage of the appreciation event is to connect individual volunteers who because they volunteer on different days don’t know one another.

Reaching out to community

A community project which the store has undertaken for several years is the Christmas Cheer program which this year served 84 families amounting to 115 adults and 171 children. All of the items picked out by the adults for the kids were donated by individuals or businesses except the gift cards ($25 food vouchers per adult good at the k & m Piggly Wiggly), Heimermann said.

The Vincent de Paul conferences which use the facilities of Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic Church, Kiel, and Holy Rosary Catholic Church, New Holstein for their monthly meetings, are affiliated with the St. Vincent de Paul store in Kiel as a resource for their mission which is to assist families and individuals having special needs. Members of the conferences visit families asking for help, and evaluate their situation. Such needs can be rent payment, the payment of fuel and electric bills, obtaining food, clothing or furniture. The conferences might also refer people for counseling on handling finances or job seeking advice. Home visits include a spiritual message. Another mission of the conference is to bring gifts to local nursing homes at Christmas. New conference members are always needed. Persons of all faiths are welcome to join the conference. If interested, call conference president Jeanette Klauck at 894-3152 or the Vincent de Paul store manager Vicki Heimermann at 894-7834.

What the Vincent de Paul store motto reads, “Help Us Help Others” could not be more true in these economic times. A special service provided by the Vincent de Paul store is the payment of electric and gas bills for disadvantaged families. The need for this was very heavy last year, said Heimermann who predicts an equal or even greater need for this in 2013. Providing furniture and household items to disadvantaged families was more common last year as well, Heimermann said.

A new approach to selling toys and children’s games and books is being piloted by the store in the months ahead. An ad will appear in the local newspaper announcing the first of these taking place in early spring. A tent will be erected outside just south of the store where people can browse among the toys and games and make purchases. If the first effort works out well, a second sale will take place in the fall. Residents should note that the sale will take place prior to the Kiel citywide garage sale.

The St. Vincent de Paul store is located at 1234 Teckla Place. One may call 894-7834.