Generosity overflowed at St. Matthias Church on May 7, as volunteers distributed 1,000 boxes with nonperishable food and other items for people in the Lemay area facing hard times.
Cars were lined up in a half-circle around the church parking lot in Lemay, with volunteers working in unison bringing the boxes from the gym, stacking them and placing them in the cars. Recipients went home with pasta, soup, pancake mix, oatmeal, apple sauce, paper towels, soap, toothpaste, smoke detectors and more.
Father Dennis Port, pastor of St. Matthias, was astounded by the community effort. “It’s definitely faith in action,” Father Port said. “It’s just great to see what people do to help other people.”
Queen of All Saints parishioners Jerry and Judy Reinhold and their employees at Reinhold Electric spent 10 days organizing the event and purchasing the items for the care boxes.
Jerry Reinhold said the event, which included a barbecue afterward for volunteers and first responders, was dedicated to his employees at Reinhold Electric and the community. “Look at all the people helping, a lot of good people,” he said. “We just wanted to do something special and bring people together.”
Reinhold Electric employees organized the care package pickup, enlisting the help of the parish, St. Louis County Police, Lemay, Affton, and Mehlville fire protection districts, the Mehlville and Lemay school districts, Goddard School, Fay Funeral Home, Royale Orleans, Red Oak Resort and Reinhold Flooring.
Chris Schmittgens, a project manager for Reinhold Electric and a St. Catherine Laboure parishioner, said the project began with a discussion in their office. “We started thinking we’d do a little bit, then a little bit more and then it turned into this,” he said. “It’s good being able to help as many people as we can.”
Justin Jacobs, who oversees parish maintenance and services at St. Matthias Parish, said he was pleased that the care package pickup helped clients of the parish Society of St. Vincent de Paul conference, among others. He was impressed by how efficiently the project came together and its massive scale.
Amanda VanHorn, a guidance counselor at Hancock Middle School and a parishioner of Sacred Heart Parish in Valley Park, was one of the volunteers who placed the boxes in the trunks of cars in the quick-moving line of cars. “It’s so cool” that Reinhold and the community came together “and so needed,” she said.
Captain Melissa Webb, commander of the St. Louis County Police Department’s Affton Southwest Precinct and a parishioner of St. Raymond’s Maronite Parish, was among the first responders who promoted and volunteered at the event. She called Jerry Reinhold “an amazing human being” who didn’t forget his earlier struggles and wanted to give back.
“He does live his faith,” she said. “We don’t hear a lot about the good stuff like this, but it goes on a lot.”