Charities provide coats, gifts, food

Record Photo by Ruby Thomas
Barbara Rankin, a client of Sister Visitor Center, shopped for toys for her grandchildren in the gym of Catholic Charities’ St. Anthony campus on West Market Street Dec. 16.

By Ruby Thomas, and Jessica Able
Record Staff Writers
While joyous for some, the Christmas season can be difficult and stressful for many people in the community, particularly those with few resources.

Barbara Rankin is raising two grandchildren — ages 6 and 8 — on a fixed income, so Sister Visitor Center’s Christmas giveaway is a big help, she said.

“They help me out with food, clothes and toys around this time of year,” said Rankin, who’s been seeking assistance from the center for about four years. “It helps me out a lot because I’m on a fixed income.”

Sister Visitor Center, a ministry of Catholic Charities of Louisville, and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, a Catholic organization, aid hundreds of families with the help of parishes, schools and individual volunteers each Christmas.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which aids impoverished people year-round with a variety of programs, hosted it’s annual Santa Shop Dec. 15. More than 400 families were able to shop for Christmas gifts in a “mini-mall set up” in its Family Success Center, a news release from St. Vincent de Paul said.

Parents were assigned to “an elf that helped them navigate the tables full of toys, books, games and clothes,” the release said. Gift wrapping stations were available to wrap each item.

Volunteers helped sort, shop with the parents and wrap the presents.

The gifts were donated by area businesses and schools that participate in the society’s “Gift from the Heart” tree program, as well as from St. Vincent de Paul conferences at parishes, individuals who purchased items from St. Vincent de Paul’s Amazon wish list and Toys for Tots.

Sister Visitor Center, an emergency assistance program that provides food, clothes, assistance with rent, utilities, and other aid, held it Christmas giveaway this week.

Clients were able to come to the center to shop for coats and new clothing, as well as to pick up new toys. About 500 toys were given away, said Sister Michele Intravia, director of Sister Visitor Center.

Sister Intravia noted that she spoke earlier in the year to parishioners of St. Elizabeth, St. Therese and Our Mother of Sorrows churches and “challenged” them to donate $4,000 so the center could purchase 200 winter coats for clients. Parishioners at those three parishes donated $6,000, said Sister Intravia. In the past two weeks, the center has donated 350 children’s coats and expects to give away about 500 in all.

“Other parishes have been very generous, too. We could never do this without the support of the parishes,” said Sister Intravia in a recent interview. “It’s been such a blessing and a wonderful witness to the kindness of people in the Archdiocese of Louisville.”

In addition, nine families were “adopted” by businesses and individuals in the community. These donors have provided toys, clothing, household items and gift cards, said Sister Intravia.

Toys for Tots also donated 40 new bicycles, she noted.

“It makes my heart happy to know there are so many kind and generous people,” she said.

The center temporarily stops accepting donations of used items during Advent to make room for the Christmas giveaway, but Sister Intravia said the center will start accepting donations of gently used clothing on Jan. 13.

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