In my occasional series on the Corporal Works of Mercy (in keeping with this Jubilee Year of Mercy!) we come to the next work on the list, to “clothe the naked.” We all know (I hope!) about clothing drives and coat drives. We all know that the St. Vincent de Paul Society Thrift Store resells used clothing and other items and uses the proceeds to help people in many different ways.
The St VdP Thrift Store has been located on South Congress for many years. But this Spring will be moving to a new location at 901 W. Braker Lane, into a building three times its current location. They will continue to take donations, and you can help people in need by giving your unwanted, excess, no longer fitting items to the St. Vincent de Paul Society. What do they take? According to their website: “Clothes, shoes, books, furniture, holiday items, and household items like china, dishes, knicknacks, linens, collectables, etc!” So think of the St. VdP Thrift Store when you do Spring cleaning!
Our own Thursday Outreach program distributes coats and jackets to homeless people who need them, and also provides vouchers to people to the St Vincent de Paul Thrift Store so that they can shop for the things they need.
Mobile Loaves and Fishes, another great Austin organization, also distributes clothing to the homeless. I remember Mr Alan Graham, one of the founders of Mobile Loaves and Fishes, speaking about the importance of a pair of clean socks, and how much that can mean to a person living on the street. Sometimes it does not take a great deal if it is done with care and respect.
And in our neighborhood, at the University United Methodist Church up the street, they have a clothing store called Fig Leaf. They state on their website that Fig Leaf “offers families the opportunity to shop for clothing and personal needs. While most items are donated to Fig Leaf, certain items such as underwear, socks and toiletries are purchased through the Fig Leaf budget. We welcome drop-offs of gently-used items during regular church hours.”
In addition to donations of clean used clothing, all of these organizations also need donations of money and donations of service. To keep overhead low they rely on volunteers to staff the store or distribute goods in the field. So a lot of volunteers are necessary as well. Do you have some time to give?
Clothing the naked is not hard to do. There are opportunities all around us. It does require some sacrifice on our part though, of some of our goods, of some of our money, of some of our effort and time. Mostly it requires a change of heart to recognize the other as brother and sister, and to actively reach out in compassion and service. As Christians and Catholics, that is what we are called to do.