Grant Gibson

JP II helps where it counts

Students from John Paul II Catholic School and their families spent some of their time before Christmas helping.

Students from John Paul II Catholic School and their families spent some of their time before Christmas helping with the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul.

Students wrapped gifts for children on the society’s list, collected food donations, toiletries, warm clothing (toques, socks, scarves) throughout the year that were included in hampers delivered to families in need, and helped make up food hampers.

They also helped serve and clean up in the parish hall during a Christmas dinner for single and bereaved parishioners.

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul was founded by a group of young people in France in 1833 under the leadership of Frederic Ozanam, a 20-year-old student in Paris. Members felt the need to practise their Christian faith in action rather than words so they dedicated their lives to serving the poor on a person to person basis by sharing their time, talents, friendship and possessions with them.

Since then the Society has spread to 114 countries. With nearly one million members worldwide it is the largest lay organization within the Catholic church.

The society is active in the Alberni Valley, says Mike O’Gorman, president of the local society. As Catholic schools on Vancouver Island support their respective chapters, the Alberni Valley society is helped by John Paul II—and uses its meeting, food and furniture storage rooms.

This year the Port Alberni society visited approximately 400-500 families throughout the year, and delivered substantial food hampers to 50 families at Christmas, a society spokesperson noted. All the gifts (103 this year) plus 50 turkeys, were donated by the parishioners of the Holy Family Notre Dame Catholic Church.