St. Vincent de Paul Society reaches out to community
The St. Vincent de Paul Society here at Niagara University is a group committed to the Vincentian mission of service to those who are less fortunate. Faculty moderator Monica Saltarelli keeps the group busy, networking with those in the community and finding projects that would benefit both groups.
Habitual projects of SVDP are volunteering at the St. Vincent de Paul store in Niagara Falls nearly every Saturday. At the store, students help sort clothes, tidy up, and unload new donations. Students also help distribute and store food at Our Lady of Lebanon food pantry every Tuesday and Thursday.
SVDP provides opportunities for students to fulfill their three hour service commitment for each club they are involved. However the members of SVDP go above and beyond this, volunteering just for the sake of volunteering.
"I think St. Vincent de Paul is such a draw for me because it is a way for me to express my passion for service with other people that feel the same way," says sophomore Anna Hoffman. "Volunteering with other students also gives me the courage to continuously step outside of my comfort zone, and it makes that experience one that I can learn and grow from with other people."
A recent service project was held at a nearby grade school, St. Dominic Savio. There, members of SVDP helped the students make Easter baskets and decorate crosses. Not only did it give members a chance to work with kids, but it also provided the students with positive role models to look up to.
Junior hospitality major Mary Gibson commented on her experiences with SVDP. "I went downtown for the Magdalene project last year and we stood on a street corner handing out (supplies) to those on the street, many of whom were extremely poor or homeless. It was my most vivid memory from working with the St. Vincent de Paul group, as it was one of the most moving," she says. After feeding the poor, talking to the lonely, and interacting with the children, I went home with a renewed purpose and hope. It was a truly gratifying and eye-opening experience."
Other service projects the group has participated in include a Thanksgiving food collection at Tops grocery store for Our Lady of Lebanon food pantry; the Magdelene Project, in which members distributed food and hygiene items to women in need; a collection for those affected by the earthquakes in Haiti; and a baby item drive. In addition, SVDP sells concessions at many of the NU home games. All proceeds benefit the SVDP and surrounding community.
If any student is still in need of community service hours they can contact Saltarelli at (716) 286-8409 to volunteer with SVDP.