If you happened by St. Joseph Catholic Church Saturday morning, you might have seen a crew of all ages working diligently between rain showers and making trips from the previous church food pantry to a new, recently constructed pantry down the street.
St. Vincent de Paul Conference President Jennifer Rhodus said Saturday’s work consisted of getting everything from within the old pantry moved down the street into the new one. To that end, the normal pantry volunteers had a little extra help.
“Today, several members of the Farmington High School Key Club and their faculty sponsor Halleh Fallert and the eighth grade confirmation class from St. Joseph’s Catholic School are all helping,” Rhodus said. “What we did today was basically put all of our food and product into boxes, put it all on trailers and then had a crew on the other side unloading it into the new building.”
The new building is fitted out with all the necessities: racks, freezers, refrigerators, bathrooms and seating in the foyer.
“We couldn’t have done it without the kids here today,” Rhodus said. “The average age of our volunteers is about 72. I keep telling my volunteers, ‘If you hurt yourself, I can’t use you!’ But the help we got today was phenomenal. They were all here on time, smiling and ready to go.”
Despite the weather threatening to put a hold on the moving efforts, Rhodus said the clouds parted and the rain stopped just in time for crews to get the trailer loads down the street and into the new building.
“I’d been praying, ‘Please, God, just give us a window—that’s all we need,’” she said. “So now it’s just a matter of getting it all organized now that it’s here.”
The St. Joseph pantry was originally started in the 1970s by parishioner Edward Pfaff, who provided food for around 50 families a month. Later, Paul and Velma Lober donated the funds used to build the building that served as the pantry before the newest construction.
The new pantry, still located near St. Joseph Catholic Church at the corner of Liberty and Carleton Streets, was made possible by money raised through the Beyond Sunday Capital Campaign.
“We raised money toward a 40 percent match for a project that we could deem possible,” Rhodus said. “Father Rickey said we needed a building for St. Vincent de Paul, because in our old building the clients had to wait outside, in the cold or in the rain.”
With the help of donations and the support of events like the annual Help the Hungry Bake Sale, the pantry serves just over 250 families a month.
“The whole idea of this new building is to get the clients into a waiting room where they have chairs, a bathroom, access to water where it’s cool or it’s warm—to give them more dignity and respect,” Rhodus said.
To donate to St. Vincent de Paul, to volunteer or for more information, contact the parish office at 756-4250. A grand opening celebration is scheduled for 10 a.m. on March 19.