WAHOO (SNR) - Ever since Saint Wenceslaus Parish in Wahoo purchased an enclosed trailer to collect donations for Catholic Social Services (CSS), they’ve had a regular supply of clothing and household items to donate to those in need.
It all started when the parish council and pastor, Father Charles Townsend, determined to end their relationship with a clothing recycling service.
Some years ago, the company had set up a large rag bin on the Saint Wenceslaus parish property to collect used clothing and the like. The fabric was destined for recycling, and the parish would earn a small amount of money each quarter.
Alas, the arrangement did not turn out to be as beneficial as promised.
"It was one of those things you had to follow up on all the time," Father Townsend said.
Unfortunately, the company neither collected donations nor sent a check regularly. And there was another issue, too.
"People left a lot of other things – bikes, furniture, and we had to dispose of it," Father Townsend.
On occasion, members of the parish would sort through the donations. Frequently, they were delighted to find perfectly good clothing or bedding.
"There were lots of reusable things that should have been used for something other than recycling," Father Townsend said.
So, parishioners would rescue the best items and anything that wasn’t fabric to be donated to a local thrift shop. They would have preferred to support a Catholic charity, but it just wasn’t practical to transport items to CSS in Lincoln unless the CSS collection truck was paying a visit to the area.
Father Townsend noted that the desire to help CSS is very strong in his parish.
"CSS has been good to us," he said, mentioning the CSS rolling food pantry and rolling thrift store in particular. "It’s always right to return the blessing."
Eventually, he and the parish council agreed that it was time to change this unsatisfactory situation. The recycling company was told to remove the shed, and parish funds were used to purchase an enclosed, 16-foot, tandem axle trailer.
Now the trailer is parked where the shed used to be, and people can bring all sorts of donations to load directly into it. A sign inside the trailer reminds donors of which items CSS can’t use – televisions and infant car seats or baby cribs that may be recalled, and the like.
When it’s full, CSS Director of Finance Bill Meduna, who is a member of Saint Joseph Parish in nearby Colon, tows it to Lincoln to be unloaded by CSS volunteers.
"He comes to daily Mass and then hitches up and goes to work," Father Townsend said. "We’ve done it about as easy as anybody could."
In the last year that the parish has owned the trailer, Father Townsend and members of the parish have been happily surprised at how frequently it’s full and ready for CSS.
"In the summertime last year, it would fill up in about two weeks’ time. It slowed down a little bit over the winter, but it’s starting to pick up again," said parishioner Duane Osmera.
"People were bringing things by the truckload," agreed Father Townsend. "It’s a good problem to have. We were hoping it would get filled up every two to three months."
Recently, the parish paid to have Harris Decals of Lincoln come out to Wahoo to add an image of St. Wenceslaus Church and lettering to the sides of the trailer, to advertise that it’s meant to collect CSS donations.
"The whole community can use it, and it’s not just Catholic people who are putting things in there," stated Mr. Osmera.
Father Townsend sees the trailer as an advantage all the way around.
People from Wahoo and the surrounding area have a convenient way to pass along the items they don’t want any more. The parish is encouraging one another – and the whole community – to provide for those who are less fortunate. And CSS can use their resources to send their collection trucks to other parts of the diocese.
"It’s been a really successful thing so far," Father Townsend said.
Anyone in the Wahoo area can bring serviceable used clothing, household items, furniture and working appliances to Saint Wenceslaus Parish and place them in the trailer. If the trailer is not on site, it will return in a day or two after being processed at the CSS collection center in Lincoln.