Not just at Thanksgiving, but throughout the year, we hear, “Thank God for St. Vincent de Paul.” Whether we’re helping a single homeless woman, a mother and her young child, a man who just lost his job, or an elderly person – the work of St. Vincent de Paul is making a real difference in someone’s life every day of the year.
Our Dining Room is often the first place someone comes to for assistance, and it’s surprising how much the demand has grown through the years. We continue to serve more meals than all the other local soup kitchens and dining rooms combined. Back around 2001, we broke the 100,000 meal mark; last year, we had an all-time record of 266,836 meals; and this year, we expect to serve at least 270,000 meals.
Many of the people who come to our Dining Room need a hot meal before they can think about taking the next step, and once they have eaten, they begin to ask questions like, “Do you know where I can find a place to stay? Can someone help me find a job?” These are the people that come to us for help.
Our philosophy of giving a hand-up of hope continues to be the cornerstone of our organization. For those who are homeless, our top priority is getting them off the streets and into our Bishop Ott Shelter Program where we can help them get back on their feet.
Many of those we serve are living in homes where people have to skip meals or eat less to make ends meet. But on Thanksgiving Day, they will all have a warm place to go and plenty to eat. This year, our volunteers will be serving up a Thanksgiving meal at our Dining Room and will continue the St. Vincent de Paul Holiday Helpers’ tradition at the Raising Cane’s River Center.
For our Holiday Helpers efforts, we thank Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome; Constable Reginald Brown; Raising Cane River Center General Manager Michael Day; Director of Sales, Marketing & Events Rhonda Ruffino; Chef James Hillary and the entire crew at the River Center. These community leaders are outstanding, and we thank them for helping St. Vincent de Paul keep the Holiday Helpers’ tradition alive in our Capital Region.
Again this year, we want to thank the Congregation B’nai Israel for doing their annual Turkey Train, collecting enough turkeys to ensure that we can continue this Thanksgiving tradition. Annually, the synagogue is the single largest contributor of turkeys for our Thanksgiving meal service to the poor. Their help is even more critical this year because of the growing need in our community.
At St. Vincent de Paul, the most critical ingredient in our Thanksgiving recipe is you – our supporters – who make our work possible. Our needy guests are so grateful for the meals you make possible. It’s amazing to look around and see what can be accomplished through the generosity of so many people throughout our community. This Thanksgiving, we say, “Thank God for you and all you’ve done for those who need a helping hand.”
If you haven’t supported our St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room in the past, we invite you to become a part of this important ministry. Please consider supporting our Dining Room by giving a Thanksgiving gift. For $1.00 we can provide a hot meal; $100 provides 100 meals; and $400 will feed all our Dining Room guests for a day. Make your gift online by clicking here or by mailing a check to the St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room, P.O. Box 127, Baton Rouge, LA 70821. Happy Thanksgiving to all!