Charlotte County SVdP helps distribute food

A food distribution effort in Charlotte County helping more than 1,400 individuals and families in late July was boosted by support from local members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP).

The SVdP St. Charles Borromeo and Sacred Heart Conferences participated in a USDA Farms to Family Food Box giveaway on July 24, 2020 at Franz Ross Park in Port Charlotte. This effort included distributing 1,440 boxes of food (23,040 pounds) to the community through various non-profit agencies in the area response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The USDA program consists of refrigerated boxes of fresh produce (fruit and vegetables, dairy and meat), which were picked up by various non-profit organizations. In addition to SVdP Conferences, food was also distributed to Villa San Carlos, a low-income senior housing facility run by the Diocese of Venice.

The Charlotte County Food Assistance Task Force, currently chaired by SVDP member Joe Sabatino, is helping to provide a coordinated response to the crisis by organizing the outreach efforts of non-profit organizations throughout the county. The Task Force has different committees providing financial assistance, business recovery, youth and education opportunities, support for special populations, and food assistance, with the various SVdP conferences actively participating.

“This is a collaboration of community resources, county government, churches, along with leadership by St. Vincent de Paul,” Sabatino said.

It was a joy to behold, to watch everything come together,” Sabatino said. “After a few bumps, things worked very smoothly, and we were able to distribute all the food boxes by 11 a.m. The teamwork displayed by everyone was great to see. We were all united in our mission to provide food to those in need, and more importantly to let them know that they are valued, and we care about them and their families during these deeply stressful times.”

The SVdP Conferences in Charlotte County (Sacred Heart, St. Charles Borromeo, St. Maximilian Kolbe and San Antonio) each have food pantries and have remained opened throughout the crisis.

SVdP Conferences are also supporting the Harry Chapin Food Bank in Fort Myers with its distribution of food at least twice a month at Sacred Heart Parish, 211 W. Charlotte Ave., in Punta Gorda. The upcoming schedule is from 10 a.m. to noon, every other Thursday (Aug. 13, Aug. 27, Sept. 10, and Sept. 24).

For more information or to help support the needs of the SVdP Conferences in Charlotte County, please visit

News from around the Diocese late March 2020

Blood drive a success

St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples, in conjunction with the Knights of Columbus Council 12178, helped make a blood drive on March 21 a huge success.

With the fears of the pandemic keeping people home, the blood drive was authorized by authorities to continue considering the urgent need for blood. Using the Ministry Center, Naples Community Hospital Healthcare System Community Blood Center bus was parked outside and classrooms in the building were used to process donors.

Precautions were made to ensure the health and safety of all. The Blood Center follows universal precautions and following guidelines issued from CDC and FDA to keep our donors safe.

Grand Knight Randy Thomas was initially worried no one would participate in the blood drive. With an initial sign-up of 21 donors, about 100 arrived to give blood. Because of the demand, and to ensure everyone stayed as prescribed social distancing, some donors made an appointment to donate blood later as need will continue.

“It is wonderful how the people of St. Peter’s stepped up, even during time of uncertainty. Really wonderful,” Thomas said.

St. Peter Pastor, Father Gerard Critch, stopped by to offer words of encouragement and to bless the Blood Center workers, volunteers and donors.

St. Vincent de Paul Society still helping

The St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP) Society districts throughout the Diocese of Venice may have shuttered their famous thrift stores, but they continue to help people in need.

Courtesy FOX-$

Responding to the pandemic, various programs that make a difference for those in need, such as meals on wheels, financial assistance and food pantries continue to operate under modified conditions which ensures both the health and safety of members, but also that of the the public at-large.

An example of this is opening food pantries for limited hours and by appointment and delivering food to the elderly twice a week instead of each day limiting personal contact and risks for all.

Those needing help or wanting to assist, are encouraged to contact their local SVdP Society offices for details.

Bradenton food pantry operating, needs donations.

Volunteers at the St. Joseph Food Pantry in Bradenton are focused on ensuring there is enough food for all in need. Busy on any day of year, the food pantry is the largest in Manatee County serving more than 1,200 individuals and families each month, there has been an immediate demand for more for whatever the pantry can provide.

An appeal for food the week of March 23 brought a huge response and helped to temporarily restock the shelves, but the need remains strong. Donations of nonperishable food are needed, but specific needs include the priorities right now is for donations of pasta, rice, potatoes, cereal, peanut butter and jelly, as well as canned meat and fish.

Precautions are being taken for those making donations and handling the food. People are being asked to make drive-up donations from 9 a.m.-noon, Tuesday through Thursday. Cars are to enter the church parking lot at 2704 33rd Ave. W. From there, signs are posted to direct people to the appropriate drop-off location. Call if you have any questions 941-756-3732.