Brockton students assemble holiday meals for the needy

STOUGHTON — It is the choice more and more families will have to make this winter—food or fuel. The volunteers of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul are ready to help.

Requests for traditional holiday meal baskets are still pouring in to the St. Vincent de Paul offices.

“As the rise in the cost of home heating seems to have no end in sight, we have answered hundreds of calls from those who need assistance feeding their families,” says Holiday Meals Chairman Richard LaPorte. This year, requests for holiday meals have increased by 25 percent.

The makings for this year’s Christmas baskets were assembled in the Society’s Stoughton warehouse on Dec. 19 by students from the religious-education program of St. Edith Stein Parish in Brockton. The food was packed into boxes and shipped by truck to parishes throughout the archdiocese. At each parish, volunteers, many whom are students from area high schools, will unload the trucks and then put baskets together for delivery and pick up.

The society’s familiar clothing drop boxes and stores provide financial support for the holiday food program, along with personal and corporate donations. “Roche Brothers Supermarkets is our food partner this year,” says LaPorte. “They are providing hams, vegetables and pies at cost.”

For one woman, who called the St. Vincent de Paul program to request a holiday meal last year, the basket was like a gift from heaven. “I never met such concerned and caring people. They gave me, and my kids, something to be thankful for,” she says.

“We have hundreds of stories of families that would break your heart,” adds LaPorte.

 “There are so many programs here, so many ways we can help, including the traditional delivery of Christmas meals,” adds LaPorte. “We do more holiday meal baskets each year than any other organization I know of—around 7,500.

This year, we could probably do 10,000—if we had the resources.” Those in need of the Society’s services are asked to call 1-800-820-7837.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul was founded in France in 1833. The Catholic lay organization offers person-to-person services to the needy and suffering, in the tradition of its founder, Frederick Ozanam, and patron, St. Vincent de Paul. The members, called Vincentians, are people from every ethnic and cultural background, age group and economic level, from over 130 countries and they number 1 million strong with 2000 members hailing from the Boston area. The gospel inspiration of the Society encourages men and woman to join together to grow spiritually in a society of charity by their spirit of poverty, humility and sharing. Last year alone, the Society provided $2,500,000 in aid for the needy.