BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The annual Uniform For Kids drive concluded on Friday, August 10. But there's a behind the scenes story at St. Vincent de Paul of which you may not be aware.
It's the story of one of their volunteers who's been working at St. Vincent de Paul thrift stores for more than 18 years. She's a very private person. In fact, the second she saw our cameras, she hit the door. It wasn't that she suspected anything mind you, she had no idea we were there for Hand It On. We record so many segments there during the Uniform For Kids drive, our nominee thought we were simply doing a follow up story.
She hit the door because she does not like to draw attention to herself in any way. She avoids the limelight. In fact, even when she herself recently had needs, she did not ask for help.
The backbone of the Uniform For Kids campaign is Mrs. Gerry Malone. Mrs. Malone has been with St. Vincent de Paul going on 20 years herself. She nominated Ms. Gloria Johnson for Hand It On. Once we heard Ms. Gloria's story, we agreed.
Gerry told us how Ms. Gloria has been volunteering at St. Vincent de Paul every single day for about 18 years. She told us how Ms. Gloria climbs the steep stairs to the second floor of the Plank Road thrift shop to help fill uniform orders. She does this every single day and never complains about how painful it is due to her chronic knee problems. In fact, the thought of never climbing those stairs never ever crosses Ms. Gloria's mind.
But here's what kicked us right in the gut. Ms. Gloria was very recently the victim of a devastating house fire. The fire completely destroyed her home and every single belonging she had accumulated over the years.
But listen to this. On the very day of the fire, Ms. Gloria came to work, climbed those steep stairs, and started filling orders as if nothing had happened at all. She never once complained or even let it be known what had just happened to her home and her life! Her sole focus was on filling orders to insure kids had uniforms for the start of school.
Wow. Is this not what Hand It On is really all about? Ordinary people making extraordinary contributions to the community with absolutely no expectation of recognition or anything at all in return.
Thank you to St. Vincent de Paul's Michael Acaldo and Mrs. Gerry Malone for bringing Gloria Johnson to our attention. A most deserving Hand It On recipient indeed.
Oh, and the day we were there to record the Hand It On feature story? Unbeknownst to us, it was Gloria's birthday. And yet the community, you and me got the gift.