SHAWANO — “To-go” boxes like those you’d bring home from a restaurant play a key role in a fundraiser this Lent for the homeless shelter in Shawano.
In a spinoff of the Catholic Relief Services’ Rice Bowl, parishioners at Sacred Heart Church were asked to support SAM’s House, the Shawano Area Matthew 25 shelter, by dropping their spare change in the paperboard boxes or sacrificing by foregoing a restaurant meal and adding the cost of that meal to the boxes. Donation-filled boxes are to be brought to Sacred Heart at the end of Lent.
With support from a number of churches in the area, the shelter is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit guided by its motto from the 25th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, verse 50: “. . . whatever you do for the least of these . . .”
Parishioner Muffy Culhane, president of the shelter board, said all contributions will go to assist with the operations of the shelter and help with its expansion plans.
The idea for the to-go box came from Deacon Todd Raether, whose wife, Mary, is a member of the shelter’s board of directors. Deacon Raether said he combined the idea of the CRS Rice Bowl device with, as he told it, “the spirit of the local youth mission trip entitled ‘Love Begins Here’ and their devotion to St. Teresa of Calcutta.”
“I thought we could encourage the parish to share in our local community,” Deacon Raether said.
A parishioner with “a connection,” he said, ordered and donated 500 of the boxes seen at restaurants.
“We ordered the paperboard design instead of the Styrofoam ones in order to be more environmentally sensitive,” he added.
SAM’s House, which is open each year during the winter months, has served 220 adults and 66 children since opening four years ago, Culhane told Sacred Heart parishioners at the end of Masses on the first Sunday of Lent.
Volunteers provide those living in poverty with food, clothing, resource sessions (to make them aware of community resources available to them) and a structured opportunity to gain self-sufficiency.
Forty-eight percent of shelter guests have left to permanent, positive destinations so far this season, noted a handout provided to parishioners.