The spirit of giving year round and not just during the holidays in Springhill has roots that run deep and old, with ties dating back 170 years to France.
The St. Vincent de Paul Society is the community's watchdog over poverty and need and, while not 170 years old in this community, has been making a difference in the lives of the needy, especially come Christmas time.
The spirit of giving and its Saint
SPRINGHILL - The spirit of giving year round and not just during the holidays in Springhill has roots that run deep and old, with ties dating back 170 years to France.
The St. Vincent de Paul Society is the community's watchdog over poverty and need and, while not 170 years old in this community, has been making a difference in the lives of the needy, especially come Christmas time. Coordinating with the Salvation Army, Leo and Jackie Guyette and the St. Vincent de Paul Society board members spearhead a Christmas box campaign for the needy, loaded with food items and much more during the holidays.
"The Salvation Army accepts the applications for help and St. Vincent de Paul society handles the rest," society chair Jackie Guyette said. "With the Christmas boxes we keep track of the recipients and sometimes throw in extras like mittens and socks."
While the society is a registered not for profit charity the society members encourage sharing in the community rather than handouts, Mrs. Guyette says. And with a mandate that runs throughout the year and not just Christmas time, there's opportunities year-round to help others get their feet back on the ground rather than encourage dependence.
"We do not go out asking for gifts," Mrs. Guyette said. "We encourage sharing and respect the dignity of people and tactically watch for the working poor, people who would be sensitive to assistance. Everything is done discreetly."
In the corner of the Guyette's living room sits a small, heart-shaped pillow with a special message embroidered to the society reading, "I love you" - a gift from one of those families who received discreet assistance. In the household's entrance shelves upon shelves of non-perishable food items destined for more homes in need. In their garage sits furniture and bedding waiting to fill the void some households may have.
A stockpile of good will such as this does not happen over night, the Guyettes say.
"More than fourteen years ago Brother Sampson (formerly of the St John the Baptist Catholic Church in Springhill) brought with him the constitution to organize the St. Vincent de Paul," Mrs. Guyette said. "We provide food and for a long time we had a large clothing back and things have been in and out as fast as we get it since."
With national and international council's to network with beyond the society's provincial particular council, the St. Vincent de Paul Society has many networks to draw on for assistance above and beyond their resources.
"We receive donations in kind and money but we have no steady income," Mrs. Guyette said. "But can appeal to higher councils."
Donations, Mrs. Guyette says, are always welcome as the volunteers respond to more than 150 requests each year, an average of 4 per week.
While the deadline for the Christmas boxes has past, St. Vincent de Paul can be called on for household items at 597-8162, or for food items at 597-3067 on Wednesdays and Fridays. The Salvation Army can also take requests on behalf on the group on Tuesdays at 661-2003.