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St. Amadeus Clothes Closet

What began as a Girl Scout community service project to collect coats for people in need has been zipped up into the St. Amadeus Clothes Closet in Alburgh, providing all kinds of clothing for all ages and raising funds for the parish.
“There are a lot of low-income people in this town, and there was a need” for the coat project that began about a dozen years ago, explained Denise Pardee, one of the organizers of the project and a parishioner of St. Amadeus Church.
The Clothes Closet has become an important part of life for many in this northwest corner of the statewide Diocese of Burlington who come often or infrequently to get clothing for themselves and their families and baby goods like a stroller, dresser or changing table.
Many customers don’t drive, so the Main Street location in the parish hall across from the church is convenient.
Sometimes volunteers get requests from the elementary school next door for essential winter wear for one of the students. “If we don’t have it, we get it,” said Connie Cosgrove, co-coordinator of the Clothes Closet with Pardee.
Word about the parish’s clothing ministry — located in a converted front porch — spreads through the school, the local health center, veterans’ groups, the fire department and the senior center so people know clothing and other goods like bedding are available.
Working poor and retirees in need of a helping hand come not only from Alburgh but from neighboring towns.
Operated by a volunteer team of four who sort and — when needed, mend and launder — the donated items, the Clothes Closet accepts donations for all items; there are no set prices. “You put in what you want,” Cosgrove said; some people put in $20 for a bag of clothes while others can put in only coins.
And that’s OK.
“We have an abundance of clothes,” she continued. “God made sure. We don’t care what they put in. We want to help.”
In addition to the coats and jackets, there are shirts, pants, sweaters, pajamas and even holiday apparel.
The Clothes Closet takes in about $150-$200 a month; it is added to parish funds.
Asked why they volunteer with the clothing ministry, Cosgrove and Pardee agree it’s the way they were raised. “I like to sort and organize, and I know there is a need in our community. This is the way I was raised. … I would go without so somebody else could have something,” Cosgrove said.
“Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the people say or show their appreciation,” commented Laura Limoge, a parish secretary.
Yet she knows a few people might abuse the system. “My faith informs me when I see the cheating of the system. I’d cut them off, but my faith says, ‘You can’t do that, Laura,’” she said. “My faith allows me to overlook some things I might not otherwise,” especially when it comes to food. “Having people go hungry in the richest country in the world is an abomination.”
The parish also has a food shelf in the parish center, adjoining the Clothes Closet. It offers fresh foods and baked goods from Hannafords on Wednesday and Friday from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Non-perishable food is available at the rectory on Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Clothes Closet is generally open Monday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. from April through December and at other times for emergency needs by calling the rectory at 802-796-3481.
Originally published in the Winter 2017 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.
  • Published in Parish

Survey: What ministries of the Church are most important to you?

The winter 2017 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine looks at some of the ways parishioners of Catholic churches in the Diocese of Burlington are assisting persons in need. As she traveled throughout the state, Staff Reporter/Content Editor Cori Fugere Urban asked Vermont Catholics what ministries of the Church are important to them. Here are their responses.
Timothy E. Loescher, president/head of school at Mater Christi School, Burlington: “The ministry of Catholic education is important because at the root of every academic discipline – at the root of math, of social studies, of science – is God the designer, God the creator. To teach under the assumption that we can acknowledge God at the root of all things allows us to fulfill what it says at the entrance to our school: Christ is the reason for our school.” 

Theresa Gingras, St. Thomas Parish, Underhill Center: “I think that the outreach that we do for the community food shelf is really important because it’s a simple thing for parishioners to be able to do. Every week the kids bring the food up to the basket (during Mass) and then once a month we do give food out to the local families and community. It’s just a simple thing to do and it’s really helpful.” 

Allison Croce, sophomore, St. Michael’s College, Colchester: “The caring for the Earth ministry is important to me because as Pope Francis says, we can share a common home. And by sharing a common home, we have to respect future generations and practice conservation.” 

Dr. Robert Goddard, vice president of academic affairs at the College of St. Joseph, Rutland: “I’m interested in our students being engaged in Bible study. I think that’s how they’re really going to grow as Christians.” 

Joyce Roberts, Our Lady of Seven Dolors Parish, Fair Haven: “In the ministry of the Church is religious ed. I’d like to see more children participate in the Church and follow the way of Christ, the way He wants us to be part of His ministry, and bring more children and their friends to believe in the Lord and help guide them through life.” 

Luella Aube, St. Jude Parish, Hinesburg: “The Church elderly care ministry is important to me because it provides ways to socialize and to know that people care and are there when are needed.” 

Laura Limoge, St. Amadeus Parish, Alburgh: “What’s really nearest and dearest to me is all the services we provide to our seniors. I feel they are the most underserved group in our community, probably in the whole state. And so we provide meals at holiday time; we have clothing for them, food on a weekly basis. We’ve even helped some of them with their electrical bills and things when they’re up against the wall. That’s my favorite part of working here” at the parish. 

Deacon John Guarino, St. Anthony Parish, White River Junction: “Emergency aid to people coming to the church for assistance is an important ministry because I think it offers us not only the opportunity to help with an immediate need but also to put folks in touch with people and agencies that can help them solve the long-term problems to make it more sustainable for them.”
  • Published in Diocesan
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