May 20, 2011

Letters to the Editor

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Assist St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry during its peak season by helping others

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry at 3001 E. 30th St. in Indianapolis serves more than 3,000 needy households each week using an

all-volunteer staff.

As we approach the peak of planting season for residential gardeners, the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry would like to invite the community to assist us in providing much-needed fresh produce to pantry clients. There are two ways to get involved.

First, if you have a vegetable garden on your property, consider expanding your plot and “plant a row for the hungry.” That is, plant a bit more than you need and donate any excess to the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry for distribution.

We ask that vegetables be packaged for more equitable distribution, for example, in one-gallon zip-lock bags.

Donations are accepted at the pantry any Monday through Saturday morning.

If a trip to the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry is not practical, log on to for an organization in or near your zip code that accepts donations.

A second option is to volunteer to help with an on-site vegetable garden. In partnership with “Keep Indianapolis Beautiful,” a large garden has been developed on the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry 30th Street property.

Our plan is to grow fresh vegetables that can be distributed to pantry clients and, longer term, possibly teach clients how to grow their own vegetables if they have a small plot at their residence.

We need help with planning, tilling, planting, weeding and harvesting.

If you are interested in either of these opportunities or have questions, call

317-921-1401, ext. 236, or send an e-mail to You can also visit our website at

- Don Striegel, Pantry Volunteer Coordinator, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Indianapolis


Assisting those who are returning from incarceration is truly the Lord’s work

I sincerely applaud Deacon Daniel Collier and the many dedicated volunteers who minister at the Indiana Women’s Prison and other correctional facilities.

As Mary Ann Wyand’s article points out in the May 6 issue of The Criterion, they are responding to “one of Christ’s core teachings” (Mt 26:35-36).

As a Catholic who has made corrections work my profession for 38 years, I can attest to the need and benefits of ministering to those incarcerated in prisons and jails.

Keep up the good works! By the grace of God, others will be inspired by your example.

Ministering to the incarcerated, however, is not enough. A more robust and sustained community response to the needs of former inmates is required as these men and women return to the community.

Most people in prisons and jails are incarcerated for relatively short periods. Most of them return to the community.

Statistically, their children are highly

at-risk. Many of those returning need housing, transportation, addiction treatment, life skills, childcare, education, employment and other supports to increase the odds in favor of their success.

In the current difficult economy, their challenges cannot be understated. Assisting those who are returning from incarceration is truly the Lord’s work. We make our communities safer as well.

- Robert J. Ohlemiller, Indianapolis

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