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Once again, here we are a few weeks away from Christmas.  Many have started shopping and are getting all the to do items checked off of our list.  However, many of us are still looking at that list trying to figure out where to even begin.  A very common question the members of SVdP get is "how can I help?" We love it when people come to us and ask what they can do to help others in the community.  This time of year is unique because there are many opportunities, but it can also be overwhelming when faced with so much need.  We have tried to compile a list of twelve ways to help that does not take a ton of time or money.  We hope you find a way to help at least one of these worthy causes and that you find them worthwhile. 

1.  Interfaith Ministries - They have hosted Operation Holiday since 1961 and last year alone they served 11,706 people.  They are running very low on donated food items.  Distribution starts next week and they are 50,000 short of their goal.  Items in greatest need are boxed cereal, peanut butter, boxed dinners, canned vegetables and fruits.  Donations can be dropped off at:  Operation Holiday Warehouse 6225 E. Kellogg from 10-6 on weekdays and 10-4 on Saturday.  www.interfaith.org

2.  Catholic Charities - Have a shoe box of old cell phones that you do not know what to do with?  This is a great way to help women and children who are victims of abuse.  Take your old cell phones, chargers, etc... to the Administration building next to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.  Go to the 3rd floor and ask for Julie. She will take your phone and make sure it is wiped clean for the women of Harbor House to use for emergencies.  The phones will not be made operable for every day use; instead they will be programmed so they can call 911 in case of an emergency.  If your phone is broken, bring it anyway!  They have an agreement with a phone company that will pay for the broken phones and the money made goes back to help Harbor House.  The administration building is located at 437 N. Topeka, the southwest corner of Central and Topeka. 

3.  WMOC - (Working Men of Christ Ministry) - This fantastic group helps those incarcerated to become faithful doers of God's Word.  They help men released from prison find purpose in their life and the support they need to help them break the cycle.  They run "Save Souls" thrift store.  It helps fund the ministry and also enables people on a low or fixed income afford items they need.  The store is located on the grounds of Word of Life's North campus located at 3811 N. Meridian.  If you would like to donate dishes, clothing, or really anything, please contact Bob Smith at 785-285-2425.  www.workingmenofchristministry.com

4.  Guadalupe Clinic - We recently held a coat and blanket drive for this worthwhile cause and they can always use more.  Can you imagine having a sick child and needing to see a doctor, but you are also out of food and need to go to a pantry?  What if you only had enough gas to get you to one or the other?  Which would you choose?  Even though Guadalupe Clinic is a healthcare facility, they try to ease this burden by having some extra clothing, food and hygiene items available to clients.  If you have used coats, blankets, gloves or sweats, please think about taking them to Guadalupe Clinic located at 940 S. St. Francis, 67211.  Check the website for hours before you go: www.guadalupeclinic.com  Also, if you go to website and click on newsletters, a wish list can be found on the back of the most recent edition. 

5.  TiWiconi Safe Haven (shelter for the mentally ill) - This is part of Interfaith Ministries and the work they do to help the mentally ill who are also chronically homeless is to be commended.  Residents have to be diagnosed with a mental illness before they are admitted to this long-term shelter.  Residents receive the medication and critical case management they will need in order to eventually live on their own.  As you can image, this is no easy task for anybody involved.  Most come with nothing and are so grateful for items dropped off.  If you have Christmas decorations that are not being used, throw pillows, pictures, blankets, really any home decor, this is a great place to bring it.  Each resident has their own room and they love to decorate it and make it their own.  The shelter is staffed every day of the year and is open 24 hours a day.  It is located at: 841 N. Broadway and staff can be reached at: 263-0006 or for more information, go to www.interfaith.org

6.  Positive Directions - This organization helps our brothers and sisters living with AIDS.  They try to make the everyday challenges of living with the disease easier by providing case managers.  They provide "holiday boxes" to our brothers and sisters who really need a little extra joy over Christmas.  They are requesting hats, gloves and scarves to place in the boxes.  They can be new or gently used.  They are including baked goods this year to give it a personal touch.  The boxes are being put together next week, (December 15-19).  Donations can be dropped off M-F from 9-5.  They are located at 415 S. Commerce.  

7.  Michelle Martling felt it was her calling to help women who are trapped living on the streets.  We refer to them as prostitutes, she refers to them as princesses.  She has a house that is her home and she opens it up to women who are willing to escape the streets and start a new life.  Some women choose to stay with her and begin a new life, sadly, others go back to the streets.  She could really use a new crock pot and/electric skillet for the group home.  The other night, she saw a girl with no shoes working on the streets, so she gave her slippers. So, any kind of slippers, hygiene items or fast food gift cards are greatly appreciated.  www.247.streetministry.com for more information.  For the sake of keeping her house from being published, please take items to Blessed Sacrament parish office and mark "24/7."  

8.  Interfaith Family Inn - This building is located east of the Lord's Diner.  Sadly, it is danger of closing which would be awful since it is the only other family shelter besides St. Anthony's Family Shelter.  Our contact there said they could really use twin sheets and deodorant;  the sheets can be used.  This is also a great place to drop off any extra food you have left over from holiday parties!  The Inn is always staffed.   320 E. Central  www.interfaith.org

9.  St. Anthony Family Shelter - This is the other family shelter in Wichita.  They provide referral for employment, alcohol and drug counseling, health care and education to their clients. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, with the help of many parishioners, sponsors at least one hot breakfast a month.  The shelter is always in need of hygiene items, toothbrushes, toothpaste, diaper rash ointment, lotion, shampoo and conditioner to name a few. Donations can be dropped off at 256 Ohio Street and more information can be found at www.catholicdioceseofwichita.org

10.  Our Daily Bread - To most of our children the Christmas break is a fun and exciting time, all children do not share that joy. We have seen firsthand the dread some children have for all the time off school because that means they will be hungry.  When school is out, the students do not receive their hot breakfast and lunch that is provided at the school they attend.  The pantry is running low on canned fruits and vegetables right now and can always use peanut butter and canned meats.  Take a bag of groceries directly to the pantry located at 2825 S. Hillside and help feed your fellow brothers and sisters.  www.catholicdioceseofwichita.org.  Their phone number is 264-8344, you can always call before you go.  

11. Union Rescue Mission - This is another organization that helps the homeless and working poor.  Items really needed right now are anti-fungal foot spray, canned meats and baby formula, and they always need new or used men's clothing.  You can drop off your donations M-F from 8-4 or Saturday's from 8-11:30.  You can call 687-4673 or go to the website for more information.  www.urmwichita.org.  

12.  Stepstone/Dear Neighbor - These organizations really get into the trenches and deal with abuse and poverty head on.  The offices are located close to the Sister's of St. Joseph Convent at 1329 S. Bluffview.  They are very low on small, one quart packages of powdered milk and toilet paper.  They also will take any canned or boxed food and will distribute it to their clients.  Donations can be dropped off M-F between the hours of 8-5.  Go to www.dearneighbor.org to learn more about both Stepstone and Dear Neighbor.  

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul hopes this list helps you find a place to give a little or give a lot.  Many of these places are safe enough to also take you children to so they can see first hand where their donations are going.  As always, we thank you for your support and wish you a very blessed Christmas.  

- Gina Larson Adams 

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