An anonymous donation of $400,000 to St. Vincent de Paul Society in Collier County is enabling the charity to advance its causes and help a local food collection agency boost its program, officials announced Wednesday.
St. Vincent de Paul has used the anonymous gift to purchase a warehouse building at 4451 Mercantile Road to use for its new headquarters and it is providing Collier Harvest with permanent warehouse space for the first time since its inception in 1992.
The alliance between the two social service agencies is an example of how today's tougher economic realities require nonprofits to be more collaborative to stretch resources further at a time when more people need help.
St. Vincent annually provides aid to the needy valued at $1.4 million and Collier Harvest collects 1 million pounds of food from supermarkets, food vendors and from the annual Postal Workers' food drive. The food is distributed to agencies for getting to needy clients.
"We have been blessed by the continuing generosity of the people of Collier County and the support of Collier Harvest for some years," Stan Kabala, president of the Naples District Council of St. Vincent de Paul, said in a news release.
"This new facility and closer alliance will enable us to continue to provide these much-needed services."
Once renovations are done to the warehouse and St. Vincent can move in mid-March, the expectation is it can expand its food pantry to serve more needy families, said Jay MacDonald, St. Vincent executive director.
The agency also will move its direct assistance program for rent and utility help to the new location, the Meals on Wheels and its administrative offices, all of which are currently at 2874 Davis Blvd.
Both thrift stores, at 3196 Davis Blvd. in East Naples and 3725 Bonita Beach Road in Bonita Springs, will remain at their current locations, MacDonald said.
MacDonald acknowledges the new location, which is about three miles from its current base, may create a hardship for some clients to get to, but it is accessible by Collier County's public transit system.
"We know a good number of our people come by bus or drive or get driven," he said. "The information we examined found the trade off is we can serve more people."
Clients will be informed well ahead of time of the new location, he added.
Collier Harvest, which was started in 1992 and delivers millions of pounds of collected food to 60 agencies for them to distribute to clients, has never had permanent warehouse space. It will now have 1,500 square feet of permanent warehouse space and 1,500 additional space temporarily during the annual Postal Service food drive, where it receives about 300,000 pounds of food in a few days.
With warehouse space, Collier Harvest hopes to expand its services to help feed the hungry.
"The Board of Trustees and the volunteers of the Collier Harvest Foundation are excited about our new partnership with the St. Vincent de Paul Society and are looking forward to working closely with our new partners in addressing the growing hunger need in Collier County," Jim Iacovino, president of the Collier Harvest board of trustees, said in a news release.