By Paul Tennant
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — For the second time this summer, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul at St. Michael Church will hold a food drive.
The society will be collecting donations of non-perishable food items today and tomorrow from 9 a.m. to noon, in the parking lot of St. Michael School on Main Street. James McAloon, one of the organizers of the drive, asked that donors check to make sure the dates on cans have not passed.
Canned food and packaged items with expired dates cannot be given to people, he pointed out. The donations that are collected Saturday and Sunday will be placed in the food pantry at St. Michael Church.
In that effort, the St. Vincent de Paul volunteers will be aided by some of the young people in the parish.
“They’re fantastic,” McAloon said.
While the Society of St. Vincent de Paul has been a ministry of St. Michael Church since the 1930s, the group organized its first food drive last year, McAloon said. While many people have the impression that North Andover is a wealthy community, there are still residents who are facing hard times, he noted.
Last year, for example, the society made more than 1,000 visits in the town, McAloon said. On 85 percent to 90 percent of those visits, St. Vincent de Paul volunteers brought food, he said.
During the holiday season last year, the society provided $8,500 worth of Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, according to McAloon. The society spent another $13,000 to help less fortunate residents buy fuel, he said.
Throughout the year, the group provided $30,000 worth of food vouchers for people facing hard times, he added.
“We’re supposed to support them (the poor),” McAloon said. Members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul are taught to “see the face of God in the people we serve and hear the words of God through the people we serve,” he said.
While people are looking for canned goods in their homes or heading to the supermarket to buy items for the food drive, they might want to consider participating in the Friends of the Poor Walk, a major fundraiser for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, McAloon said.
This year’s walk will take place Sept. 21, from 9 a.m. to noon, at the North Andover Middle School track.
McAloon pointed out that although the society is a Catholic organization, the group serves people in need regardless of their religion.