Ames area parishes’ clothing drive supports St. Vincent de Paul

Three communities cooperate in effort

By Linnea Dolan

Special to The Witness

AMES — The Catholic parishes of St. Cecilia and St. Thomas Aquinas of Ames, as well as SS. Peter & Paul of Gilbert, combined forces to conduct clothing drives in January to help stock the Thrift Store at the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Waterloo.

The effort was coordinated in response to the growing needs of the organization as described in the Oct. 13 Witness article, “St. Vincent’s of Waterloo Working to Meet Challenge of Helping Poor.” The article quoted St. Vincent’s Executive Director Pat Russo as explaining, “We’re asking Catholic parishes in the western half of the archdiocese to adopt St. Vincent’s for a clothing drive one weekend a year.”

To help address the needs outlined in the article, parish priests were sent an email asking for help coordinating clothing drives to benefit the organization. The parish life committee at St. Cecilia Parish in Ames reviewed the request and decided it would be a good project for the committee to sponsor. 

The parishes would collect donations brought to Masses the weekend of Jan. 27-28, but communications began several weeks in advance of the drive. Parishioners were requested to begin sorting through items in their homes that might be donated to help meet the needs at St. Vincent’s. Clean clothing, outerwear, sheets, blankets, bed linens, and even clean fabric scraps could be put to use to help meet the high need being experienced at the society’s Thrift Store in Waterloo. 

“Mary Sue Derks in the St. Cecilia Parish office did a great job getting the word out with weekly announcements in all the various media that the parish uses – bulletin, Facebook and email,” said Rick Brimeyer of the parish life committee, who coordinated the clothing drive at St. Cecilia Parish. 

“All three Ames [area] parishes held successful drives,” Brimeyer reported. “Chris Crutchfield coordinated for SS.
Peter & Paul, and Tom Budnick organized the efforts at St. Thomas.” 

“The response to the clothing drive was overwhelming. Chris Crutchfield from SS. Peter & Paul Parish, along with the driver from St. Vincent’s, loaded an entire truck by themselves,” Brimeyer said. “They were cramming the last few bags in to make them fit.” 

Roughly 2½ box trucks were needed to transport all the donations just from St. Cecilia. “Multiple people helped load the trucks on two successive days,” said Brimeyer. “It was almost magic how they showed up. The turnout was tremendous.”

Pat Russo of St. Vincent de Paul ­stated, “The quality of the donations were fantastic and exceeded our expectations. The vast majority of the materials were of outstanding quality, including many new items, and we couldn’t be happier with the gifts.”

The parish life committee at St. Cecilia says it will likely repeat the clothing drive once or twice a year going forward and has captured a list of “lessons learned” to help the process go even more smoothly in the future.