Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Bring warm clothes December 17, 2010

ABOUT TWO MONTHS AGO, after my second daughter had just returned from Argentina and was searching for a job, I suggested that she volunteer at the St. Vincent dePaul Center for Charitable Services in Faribault. I figured the organization could use her Spanish speaking skills.

I was right. She interpreted for some of the Hispanic people who came to the center for assistance. And in the process, I think she gained as much as she gave.

By serving, we grow to understand the needs and the value of caring for others.

My daughter has since finished her brief volunteerism in Faribault and moved on to a full-time job as a Spanish medical interpreter in east-central Wisconsin. She’s doing what she most loves—speaking Spanish. And, in the process, through her work, she’s helping others.

Like my second oldest, you too can help those in need.

Last night I received an e-mail from Milo Larson, a Faribault businessman determined to welcome and assist our community’s immigrants and others in need. He’s been active in the Faribault Diversity Coalition.

He writes: “With this extremely cold fall and winter, St. Vincent dePaul is in dire need of winter clothes. The cold weather clothing is going out as fast as they come in. Please check your homes and see if you have any extra clothing lying around. If you run across winter clothing on sale or at garage sales, it would be greatly appreciated.”

Winter clothing—coats, hats, mittens, sweaters, snow pants, new socks, boots, gloves—are needed.

“Like every other year, the young children 8 and under are especially in need. Most of the children’s clothes are usually worn out after they are handed down to their brothers or sisters so if you see children’s clothes on sale, please don’t hesitate (to buy).”

Just like the people Larson is referring to, I know what it’s like to grow up without a lot of money. Although we had no charitable service to turn to for clothing, my family got clothing from relatives—hand-me-downs from cousins and new clothing from generous aunts. Clothes were passed down from sibling to sibling until, truly, they were nearly threadbare.

That family closeness and connectedness which existed years ago doesn’t necessarily exist today. Families today must rely on the generosity of caring strangers, like you.

If you live in Faribault and would like to donate new or gently-used warm winter clothes to St. Vincent dePaul, drop your contributions off between 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday – Friday at the center in the former Sacred Heart School at 617 Third Avenue N.W. Donations may also be left at Larson’s Faribault Print Shop, 302 Central Avenue. Call 507-334-2100 for more information.

Now, I realize that many of my readers don’t live anywhere near Faribault. So reach out to those in need within your community by volunteering or donating. Everywhere, families are in need and we ought to care.

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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