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By Dellaray Hileman
The St. Vincent De Paul Society (SVDPS) of Calhoun County is planning to celebrate an official grand opening of the new Hardin Food and Clothing Pantry May 15, at 11 a.m.
The celebratory event will take place at the pantry, which is located at 105 French Street in Hardin. At 11 a.m. there will be welcoming remarks, at 11:10 a.m. the ribbon cutting will take place, at 11:15 a.m. the building will be blessed, at 11:35 a.m. there will be tours, and the reception will begin at 12 p.m. noon.
Robin Hillen, Pantry Manager shared the organization’s plans for the grand opening. She said, “At 11 a.m., after an official ribbon cutting the food pantry building will be ceremonially blessed by Father Roberts.”
This will be the first time that many of the funders like Donna Moore, Office for Pro-Life, Missions and Special Ministries from the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois; Dave Winslett; and Luke Harris with SVDPS of the US; and even county officials like Rita Hagen, County Clerk; and Kiel Godar, County Engineers; and county commissioners will get to see the pantry first hand.
After the main event, at about 2 p.m., the celebration will move to a “BBQ and Beer Bash” where the SVDPS invites all volunteers and workers to come out and celebrate.
SVDPS will formally thank all the volunteers by awarding them with Certificates of Appreciation.
Kathy said, “There’s no way to list everyone in the newspaper, but from the demo crews, plumbers, electricians, the drywall crew, roofers, the flooring crew, painters, and the lawn care crew we want to thank them all for volunteering their time and skills.”
Rogers explained a little bit about the event and also expressed appreciation for those who have made it possible. She said, “We are eager to celebrate all of our supporters, volunteers and donors, we couldn’t have done this without so many people.”
The process of establishing the Hardin food pantry started in 2020, Brad Vacca, President, explained, “St. Louis Area Food Bank approached us with a $5,000 challenge grant.”
Hardin hasn’t had a food pantry for five years; the old building, supported by Lutheran Family Services, was sold.
“We had been looking for a spot to rent for quite a while. We approached Brian and Cathy Mathews who agreed to sell the building at 105 French Street to us on a 15-year contract for deed with no interest. Our monthly payment is $333. The $5000 grant became our down payment,” Rogers shared. “We prayed. The Holy Spirit replied, ‘You should.’ The community replied, ‘We can!’”
Rogers continued, stating that the faithful supporters helped to make this dream a reality. “The Holy Spirit through all our supporters has overwhelmed us with his abundance. It has been a humbling journey, every need that we have faced has been met,” he said.
Rogers gave an example of when the pantry found out they were going to need a new roof. “Within three days, an anonymous donor covered the costs for the roof.” Rogers went on to state. “This is God’s hand working in our community, there are no coincidences.”
Rogers gave countless examples of how God’s work has led them to where the pantry is today.
Nikki Simon, Vice President, said, “The St. Vincent De Paul Society is part of a network of resources within the community and helps see that no one falls through the cracks.”
Simon talked about the SVDP HelpLine, staffed by volunteers, who assist with rent, utilities, car repairs and gas, home repairs, prescriptions, and medical bills. She also noted that they are able to do this work with the help of other community organizations, like Illinois Valley Economic Development Corp., Calhoun County Health Dept, the 0-3 program and Head Start.
Last year, SVDP served 166 households with a total of 327 members.