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St. Nicholas Social Concern helps 80-90 families

December 15, 2017 GMT

PATOUTVILLE — For more than a quarter of a century, the St. Nicholas Social Concern has been meeting the food needs of a mostly rural, mostly elderly population outside Jeanerette and New Iberia.

An outgrowth of the nearby St. Nicholas Catholic Church, the food pantry — surrounded by sprawling sugar cane fields and dusty sugar mills on Patout Road — serves between 80 and 90 families in the rural communities of Jeanerette, Patoutville, Lydia, Grand Marais and surrounding areas.

St. Nicholas Social Concern is one of 10 organizations chosen by The Daily Iberian for its annual Help the Helpers program. The initiative aims to provide financial assistance to local nonprofit agencies that help the poor and needy during the holiday season.

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It is run almost entirely by volunteers, like Leo Guidroz and Nezam Remzan, who were sorting donations recently from the Food Net Food Drive.

Guidroz estimated the Food Drive brought in between 2,500 and 3,000 pounds of food.

“That’s real good,” Guidroz said, “especially for the weather we had for the second half of that day.”

Heavy rains began to fall in the middle of that Food Drive last week, but donations still exceeded expectations.

Food Pantry clients are organized into four separate groups; each group is assigned one day a month, in which clients in that group can visit the pantry, push a shopping cart along the pantry’s shelves of food and fill brown paper shopping bags according to their specific needs. They usually are allowed 200 pounds of food a visit, though that can vary.

Remzan said that system is an improvement over previous ones, where volunteers prepacked bags for clients.

“It’s much better. They take what they need. They pick food knowing what they will use, so it won’t go to waste,” he said.

Guidroz said the newer system has been in use for about two years.

“It works real well,” he said.

He said they serve at least 160 people and, with the holidays approaching, that number is likely to increase.

Cash or check donations for Help the Helpers can be taken to The Daily Iberian office at the corner of Main and Lewis streets or mailed to Help the Helpers at The Daily Iberian, P.O. Box 9290, New Iberia, LA 70562. Checks should be made to Help the Helpers.

Contributions can be marked for a specific participating Help the Helpers nonprofit organization or can be divided among all 10. Donors’ names will be published by the newspaper in an Honor Roll listing.