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St. Veronica ‘Diapers and Depends’ drives address forgotten need

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In times of crisis, many churches host food drives, but the need for personal care and hygiene products is also great — and often overlooked, according to Paul Chadowski, a member of the Knights of Columbus at St. Veronica Church in Chantilly.


The Knights and community have been trying to fill that gap. In the past five years, they’ve had 11 drives for personal care items to benefit the rural poor of Madison County and surrounding counties. The parish sends supplies to nonprofit Madison Emergency Services Association (MESA), Our Lady of the Blue Ridge Church in Madison and Catholic Outreach for Rural Virginia.


The next drive is planned for Sept. 12-26. In addition to physical collection bins labeled “MESA” at St. Veronica, Chadowski said there will be links and need lists on St. Veronica’s website for online shopping, so parishioners can donate safely from home and have items shipped. The coronavirus pandemic “accelerated the process of ecommerce,” he said.


“What a lot of people do not know is that you cannot use food stamps to purchase these items,” said Chadowski. “I think the misperception is that since these items are in a grocery store, food stamps can be used.” In addition to the importance of personal hygiene to general health, he said personal care items offer dignity, as well as assist with evangelization. “People know that Catholics are the ones who give.”


Since 2015, the parish has collected about 7 tons of hygiene supplies — a lot when you consider how light some items are, Chadowski said — and nearly $4,000 in gift cards for gas, department stores and grocery stores.


This past April, with COVID-19 shutdowns starting, the parish announced a one-month emergency drive with the unofficial name Diapers and Depends, since those were the items of most immediate need, he said. Other personal items, such as deodorant, disposable razors, toothbrushes, toothpaste and feminine products also are needed.


“I’m just grateful for all the people who are willing to give,” he said.


Find out more


Look for details of the next personal care drive at stveronica.net.


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020