St. Vincent de Paul Society opens new thrift store in Fargo

by Kristina Lahr | New Earth

ThriftStores

Volunteers at the new St. Vincent de Paul Thrift store from l to r: Terri Schwartz, Diana Russell, Marge Klinger, and Deb Boucher. (Kristina Lahr | New Earth)

In August, the St. Vincent de Paul Society opened a new thrift store in Fargo. The store is powered by volunteers who reach out beyond the store’s walls to help those in need.

But the thrift store is only part of what the St. Vincent de Paul Society does for the community.

“The St. Vincent de Paul Society serves the people today in 152 countries around the world,” said Marge Klinger. “We go to the poor. We meet with them in their homes. If they don’t have a home, we meet them at a park or a church office or their car. Poverty is real in the Fargo/Moorhead area. And the tristate area for that matter.”

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is a Catholic lay organization inspired by Gospel values. It leads lay-people to join together to grow spiritually by offering person-to-person service to those who are in need.

Organized locally, volunteers with St. Vincent de Paul witness to God's love by embracing all works of charity and justice. The Society collaborates with people of good will in relieving poverty and addressing its causes, making no distinction of those served because, in them, they see the face of Christ.

“They are our masters; we serve them,” said Marge. “We sit down and have a conversation. We find out how they got into the situation they’re in and we find out what they need. Maybe they can’t pay the rent or the utilities or their baby need diapers.”

The thrift store supports St. Vincent de Paul Society’s efforts to combat poverty in the Fargo-Moorhead community. The Society has been active in the area since 1968.

The thrift store assists those in need through a voucher program connected to area Catholic churches. The voucher comes from the parish and explains what each person needs.

“When these people come with their vouchers, you can see a little bit of shame,” said Diana Russell. “but I talk to them like there is no voucher. Once they leave with what they need, they’re like a different person. They come in, no smile, but when they leave they have a smile.

“I’ve been in that spot way back. You don’t want to ask for help. You try to be strong enough so you don’t have to ask for help, but you know deep inside that the only way you can help yourself is to break down and ask. Once you get the help, it encourages you to try to do better and get going in your life again.”

“It feels good to know that there are people that care and aren’t judging,” said Terri Schwartz. “Many years ago I didn’t have money for food but somebody put my name in a Thanksgiving basket. I don’t know who did it. But I received this gift and now I want to give back, so other people have that feeling.”

The St. Vincent de Paul thrift store is located at 2796 5th Ave S Suite B, Fargo and is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. You can assist their efforts by volunteering or donating items and funds to the store. Call (701) 364-9404 or email store@svdpfargo.org for more information.