Rachel Ruslavage learned about the corporal works of mercy at St. Benedict the Abbot Parish. Today she is trying to live them.
The 17-year old is holding a clothing drive on Sat. Oct. 12 at her high school, Canon-McMillan, to benefit a Society of St. Vincent de Paul thrift store that was struck by flash flooding.
Thousands of articles of clothing, furniture and household items were lost on July 21 at the store on Golden Mile Highway in Monroeville, which remains closed. Floods from strong storms also damaged other businesses and homes in the region.
Ruslavage was inspired to help after serving homeless families through the nonprofit Family Promise.
“I had the privilege to hear their stories,” Ruslavage said of her interaction with the families. “Through this experience, I gained a feeling of purpose in my life.”
The corporal works of mercy include instructions to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked and shelter the homeless.
After learning about St. Vincent de Paul’s desperate need, Ruslavage organized a clothing drive in the Canon-McMillan School District, getting approvals from the superintendent and school board and receiving the support of every principal.
She created flyers that were sent home to school families, and is promoting the drive on social media.
“To see a young person do this is awesome, showing empathy with those in need,” said Bryan Engel, director of recycling, logistics and marketing for St. Vincent de Paul. “She’s getting other young people involved who will want to help as they grow older.”
The society’s thrift stores sell donated goods at low prices, helping raise funds to provide assistance to low income people needing help with rent, utilities, food and medical care.
They hope to reopen the Monroeville store next month.
“We not only need donations of clothing, but also shoes, purses, belts, book bags and household items,” Engel said. “Financial donations are also greatly appreciated.”
Other schools can schedule a clothing drive by visiting DonatePittsburgh.org.
“The Catholic faith teaches us that we are all brothers and sisters,” Ruslavage said. “We should provide for one another and help each other in any way we can.”