By Paul Tennant
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — The local conference of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul does much more than hand out a few cans of soup to people going through hard times.
Last year, the organization made 1,151 visits to North Andover residents, bringing them food and other essential items, according to James McAloon, president of the St. Michael Conference of St. Vincent de Paul. The group also helps people pay fuel and utility bills, McAloon said.
McAloon’s group will hold its fifth annual Friends of the Poor Walk on Saturday, from 9 a.m. to noon, at the North Andover Middle School track. Walkers have been seeking pledges for the fundraising event.
Participants can walk whatever distance they feel comfortable with, according to McAloon. To register as a walker, pledge support for a walker or for more information, visit www.stmikesvdp.org or call 978-686-4050.
The walk supports the efforts of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul at St. Michael Church in assisting North Andover residents who are facing hard times.
McAloon pointed out that although the society is a Catholic organization, it helps people in need regardless of their religion. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul was founded in 1833 by Frederic Ozanam, a French college student, who wanted to put his faith into action by serving the poor.
Today the society is the largest lay Catholic charitable organization in the world, with 690,000 members in 142 countries. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul operates numerous thrift stores and food pantries.
“They do incredible work,” the Rev. Kevin Deeley, pastor of St. Michael Church, said of the society. He noted that the group helps people in a quiet, confidential way.
“They are a tremendous asset to our community,” Deeley said.