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“I used to pray that God would feed the hungry, or do this or that, but now I pray that he will guide me to do whatever I’m supposed to do, what I can do. I used to pray for answers, but now I’m praying for strength. I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us, and we change things.”

– Mother Teresa

There are so many needs among our neighbors. Hunger, housing, health care, child care, quality education and much more are the daily issues many of our neighbors face. Most of us recognize these needs and see those in need. We do what we can: prayers, donations, volunteering, advocating, even marching—but still the problems persist. It can seem like no matter what we do, the problems remain.

The annual “Struttin’ Our Stuff” event is scheduled for Sept. 10 at the Northside Events and Social Club. Although the name sounds as if we are boasting, it actually fits the purpose of what we want to feature. When the event started four years ago, the name was selected to show the generosity of our donors. We are really boasting about the generosity of our donors. Some of the donations received are not items that are appropriate for our clients, but they are items that can be used to make money to purchase additional food and supplies for the clients. In addition to donations made to the Mission 27 stores, the committee seeks sponsorships and additional donations. Over the previous three years, the event has raised more than $400,000 to support the mission of SVdP.

When you consider the words of Mother Teresa’s quoted above, we are really just responding to the way prayer has changed us. We know the work we need to do because it is clearly identified in the gospel.  We know the route to reaching those in need is to meet them one-to-one in the way of St. Vincent de Paul. We know that offering a hand-up as well as a hand-out will both help to solve the current need and offer hope for the future.

The time, talent and treasure of those who support our work make all of this happen. The volunteer hours, the many donations of money and goods, and all the talents brought to bear on solving these problems do make a difference.

Mother Teresa lived most of her life in India, working with people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis—people shunned from society for those reasons. She said, “Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.” Yet she worked tirelessly to help all those in need. We may think our volunteering has little impact, that our donations make little change, or that our prayers go unanswered. But as now Saint Mother Teresa also said, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”

Every donation matters. Every volunteer hour matters. And every prayer matters. The problems are great, and together we are the solution.