APPLETON — In 1971, Sue Rogers and her husband Dave, who are both Appleton natives and Xavier High School graduates, moved back to Appleton after he got out of the Navy. She recalled how they first got involved in the parish.
“We started when our two boys were in Cub Scouts. One of their projects for Cub Scouts was they had to adopt a grandparent and it couldn’t be a relative. So, we talked to a sister here and she found a retired fireman and so our den adopted him.”
After that, Rogers joined the Human Concerns Committee. At first, she was just a member, but within five years, she was leading the committee, a job she’s held now for 35 years.
Last weekend, the Human Concerns Committee conducted a sock drive. “This is our third year doing the sock collection,” said Rogers. The collection netted 682 pairs of socks.
“The former family life minister asked if we would consider collecting socks because that’s one of the few things that people don’t go out and buy for themselves when they’re homeless. Sometimes the socks go to Pillars and sometimes they go to Harbor House, depending on how many we get.”
The Human Concerns Committee, which has more than 20 members, meets the third Tuesday of the month from August through May.
Two of the group’s first endeavors are still their biggest projects they do every year.
“We started the St. Joseph’s Food Program B.A.G. (Blessed Are Givers) Weekend which is held each November and we adopted families at Christmastime,” recalled Rogers.
For the B.A.G. project, grocery bags with a list of needed items are handed out after Masses one weekend and the following weekend parishioners return the filled bags back to church. The Christmas project evolved through the years to become the “Needs Tree.” Each December, parishioners donate hundreds of gifts to brighten the holidays for families in need and residents at area group homes.
Now the Human Concerns Committee coordinates outreach to their parish and community through numerous annual endeavors, including the sock collection.
The goal is to have enough opportunities so anyone can have a chance to volunteer, even if they’re working full time. “The people here are good. Not everybody wants to be on a committee, but they’ll come and help for a one-time thing or a once-a-year thing.”
While she plans to keep leading the Human Concerns Committee as long as she is able to, Rogers is starting to turn some of her duties over to the younger parishioners. “I’m hoping somewhere down the line that someone will take over the rest of them because I’m not going to be here all the time,” she said. “But everybody helps when they’re asked.”
Rogers is impressed by the generosity of her fellow parishioners at St. Mary. “When we collect for the food pantry, we hand out over 300 bags on B.A.G. weekend. Those carts are full, it’s amazing how much stuff we get in,” she said.
“We have all these people on the committee who do these specific things, but without the help of every single parishioner who does something, we wouldn’t be successful at all,” added Rogers. “So, every parishioner is part of the Human Concerns Committee — they just don’t have to come to the meetings, they just have to help, that’s their part.”