Matt Kirsch, youth minister at St. Eleanor’s Parish in Collegeville, and more than 50 parish teens organized hundreds of bags of donated clothing at a Nov. 2-3 drive. The items will help families throughout the Philadelphia area stay warm this winter.

Hundreds of area families are ready for winter, thanks to the combined efforts of St. Eleanor Parish in Collegeville, the St. Vincent de Paul Society and GreenDrop, a donation service for charities.

During the weekend of Nov. 3 and 4, the youth ministry at St. Eleanor’s accepted bag after bag of gently used clothing as part of an annual parish drive.

A 20-foot box truck was filled to capacity by 3 p.m. on the first day of the drive, and the overflow — more than 150 bags — had to be stored in the parish hall. The truck was quickly filled again the next morning, making the outreach the parish’s most successful to date.


“We hope that the less fortunate of our community will be able to benefit greatly from the generosity of those in the Collegeville area,” said Father Jason Buck, parochial vicar at St. Eleanor, adding that 51 parish youth volunteered to help collect and organize the clothing.

The youth, ranging in age from grades 7 through 12, completed almost 98 hours of service to the community through their efforts.

“We hope that this opportunity will both teach them the importance of service and to be grateful for all they have been blessed to receive,” said Father Buck.

A forgotten sweater in a closet or a pair of seldom worn pants can make a real difference for families struggling to make ends meet, said Joe Sullivan, a member of the parish’s St. Vincent DePaul conference.

“Clothing donations can enable a student to excel at school among his or her peers,” Sullivan said, adding that the items can “keep families warm as the weather turns colder.”

The clothing drive also served as an opportunity for parishioners to catch up with each other as they dropped off donations. During the occasional breaks throughout the collection hours, individuals and families gathered for hot chocolate, games and discussions on fulfilling the corporal works of mercy.

The parish has already scheduled next year’s clothing drive for Nov. 2 and 3, 2019.