PLAINFIELD — It’s autumn, so it’s time for Bernadette Sherman to step up her service efforts in anticipation of the upcoming holiday season.
Sherman and her husband, Jack, are members of St. Paul Parish. Sherman has been a member of St. Paul since moving to Plainfield with her parents in 1956. She has always volunteered at St. Paul, but especially so since she retired in 2007 from her 22-year position with Shopko in Stevens Point.
“I have spare time now and I like to keep busy,” she said. “There’s lots to do for St. Paul. The administrative assistant, Marsha Hadden-Phillips, and Deacon Jim (Trzinski) can’t do it all. Whatever I can do to help, I’m willing to do.”
Sherman is president of the Waushara VFW Auxiliary, works two mornings a week stocking shelves at a local grocery store and helps organize donated coupons for Tri-County Area Schools in Plainfield. But she still finds plenty of time to help out at St. Paul, working with the mailing committee, stuffing newsletters and other small jobs.
She also heads up the mission team, which takes donated, used greeting cards of all types and recycles them into new cards that can be purchased at the parish. The fronts and inside verses of the cards are reused on card stock and decorated with ribbon to be used again. The effort is multiplied during the holiday season because so many Christmas cards are donated for recycling.
Proceeds from sales total about $200 per year and go to the Salvatorian Mission Warehouse, which mails supplies to impoverished missions around the world. The mission team meets once a month to create the refurbished greeting cards.
During the weekend of Oct. 3-4, Sherman’s other major activity for the year began. She is part of a multi-parish effort called SOS — Share Our Surplus — that will provide holiday food boxes for needy area families.
Each week through the first week of December, SOS asks for donations of a specific kind of food item. Space for the project is provided by the United Methodist Church in Plainfield, and it is Sherman’s job to sort the donations and keep a tally of what is on hand.
The first weekend, the parishes collected canned fruits and vegetables. Upcoming requests will be for items such as beans, toilet paper and boxed mixes. With donated money from organizations and individuals, SOS will purchase chicken, milk, bread, potatoes, fruit and sugar to supplement the boxes.
“The second week in December, we put it all together and pack these in boxes,” Sherman said.
She said Christmas gifts also are involved. Trees are set up at the various parishes and banks in Plainfield, Hancock, Bancroft and Almond with names and wishes of children from the families to receive the SOS food boxes. Children 14 years and younger from these families can request gifts that they would like for Christmas. “If the list is reasonable, we make sure they get something, if not everything, on their list,” Sherman said.
“SOS is a joint effort through area churches, not just Catholic churches,” she said, adding that they get a lot of community support as well. Food drives are held by the local Cub Scout troop, grade school classes and a snowmobile club.
A member of the Methodist church takes care of sending letters out to churches, businesses and organizations, handles the recipient applications and checks out their eligibility.
“My job is the easiest part, but I have to keep totaling everything,” Sherman said. “Just as I’ve counted everything, somebody brings in more stuff and I have to recalculate. But that’s understandable and we’re grateful for whatever they do send. We do have a food pantry in town, St. Joseph’s Food Pantry at the Assembly of God church. If we get donations that we cannot use, the excess is taken to the food pantry, so everything still gets used.”
Sherman likes being a part of SOS because it helps so many people, she said.
“Since I’ve been involved, it has grown to helping anywhere from 102 to 157 families, and that could involve more than 500 people. It’s needed in the area. A lot of the people work but don’t make that good of a wage, so anything extra is a bonus for them,” she said.
“They are very thankful, and lots of times they don’t feel that they don’t need the help again the next year, so lots of them will give a donation the next year to help out.”