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Walk for the Poor set for Feb. 17

By CJ HADDAD - | Feb 9, 2024

A non-profit organization that aids and accommodates individuals in Cape Coral needing assistance is once again sponsoring a walk to benefit its mission.

The third Annual Walk for the Poor, hosted by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, St. Andrew Conference, takes place next Saturday, Feb. 17, at St. Andrew Catholic Church starting at 10 a.m. and ending at 1 p.m.

The Walk for the Poor fundraiser has raised more than $15,000 for each of the last two years, and has raised public awareness of individuals in need within Cape Coral.

“We put on the walk, in part, to raise money for the neighbors that we serve, and also because we want to raise awareness for the society,” said SVdP St. Andrew Conference President Mary Bauer. “There are plenty of people in need in Cape Coral to serve.”

Bauer said their services are needed more and more as the years pass, especially after Hurricane Ian and the current cost of living. In 2023, SVdP processed 1,176 calls from individuals requesting assistance. Generous parishioners of St. Andrew, as well as grants from other conferences and the SVdP national office, the St. Andrew Conference distributed more than $96,000 in assistance to 541 families, including 491 children.

“The need is still there, and the number of calls are up,” Bauer said. “We’re averaging about 100 calls each month from people in the Cape.”

The St. Andrew Conference was founded in 1970 in Cape Coral. For over half a century, SVdP volunteers, referred to as “Vincentians,” have provided tangible assistance to Cape Coral neighbors in need in the form of food vouchers, water and electric utility assistance, prescription, rent and temporary lodging, thrift store vouchers, bus passes, job resources, and referrals to other agencies and organizations. Bauer said in just electric bills last year, the conference paid nearly $42,000, and $15,000 for water bills.

“We also gave out $22,000 in food assistance,” Bauer added. “We paid a few hotel bills after Ian when someone fell through the FEMA cracks. We gave out furniture, and helped people with car payments and car insurance.

“We have a lot of working people now who can’t quite make ends meet because utility bills have gone up, food has gone up.”

There is no set distance participants have to walk. They may choose to walk as much or as little as they would like around St. Andrew Church. There will be refreshments served under the school “airnasium.”

“If they want to do one loop around the block, that’s fine,” Bauer said. “And some people go for two hours.”

SVdP provides assistance to Cape Coral neighbors in need regardless of religion, age, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, disability, socio-economic status. All staff are volunteers.

“We’re more than a thrift store,” Bauer said. “People see the thrift store, and it is the most visible sign of St. Vincent de Paul, but the thrift store is really the smallest part of what we do. We go into people’s homes and help them assess their needs and budget. We see a growing number of people where people seem to be making just a little bit less than what they need to meet expenses. We also see the ability to budget dropping. How to make sure they have everything and how to set money aside to pay for the necessitates. We do some education on that as well.”

Those interested in walking or making a donation can visit go.rallyup.com.

St. Andrew Catholic Church is at 2628 Del Prado Blvd.