Long johns for St. John’s continues to make a difference
Local advocate helps make shelter wish list happen
By Josh Staloch
GREEN BAY – For students at Notre Dame de la Baie Academy in Green Bay, community service is simply part of the high school experience.
The school’s website states, “Sophomores are required to complete social justice service. To do this, they must serve the poor and vulnerable, which refers to people deprived of their basic rights and/or equal participation in society.”
It was during her sophomore year at Notre Dame Academy (NDA) that Delaney Gallagher began “Long johns for St. John’s,” a local non-profit organization dedicated to providing essential winter clothing items to those in our area experiencing homelessness.
Long johns for St. John’s is now well into its third winter of making a difference for those who most need a hand in Green Bay.
Gallagher, who has long since exceeded the requirements for community service laid out by her school, said she never considered taking her foot off the gas.
“Not really,” Gallagher, now a senior at NDA, replied when asked if she had thought about doing something else with her time after finishing her first year with Long johns for St. John’s. “This is really where my passion lies. I just love being able to help out the shelter and the guests here. I feel like quitting was never a question, I want this to be a focus.”
She said she takes pride in being able to draw attention to the issue of homelessness in our community and that she also gets a lot of gratification from knowing that what she’s doing has a direct impact on those in need.
Winters in the Midwest are difficult, but most of us take for granted how well protected we are from things like frostbitten fingers.
This year, gloves top the list of items most needed by individuals served by St. John’s.
Gallagher has been seeing a lot of gloves piling up in the silver minivan she uses to collect donations around town.
Gallagher noted that she volunteers her time doing other things at St. John’s and that she has had several proud moments this winter serving meals and noticing that guests had gloves in their jacket pockets that came from her efforts.
“I think it’s very important to engage the community and help to remember the importance of warmth for the homeless in our community,” she said. “So I really love being able to send a message to the guests here that there are people in the community who care.”
The folks at St. John’s Ministries are very much appreciative of the concentrated effort Long Johns for St. John’s makes at helping them keep their shelves stocked with the essentials that the individuals who come through their doors looking for help need the most.
“It’s tremendous, to see what she’s been able to accomplish” Steve Schauer, Director of Community Engagement at St. John’s Ministries said. “The effort and the time she puts in, to truly make a difference, is very valuable and meaningful to us as an organization.”
In its first year of existence, Long Johns for St. Johns put 950 donations to good use.
Last winter, the number climbed to north of 1,600.
Going off of the St. John’s wish list of items their guests need the most, Gallagher collected from her drop-off sites and delivered about 500 pieces to the shelter on Tuesday alone, bringing this year’s total items donated to over 1,200.
Gallagher has dedicated at least 80 hours each winter to the cause since her sophomore year.
Where to donate
Those who wish to help can check the Long johns for St. John’s website to find out which necessities Delaney is currently focusing her efforts on.
From there, items can be dropped off at any of the area’s five Festival Foods locations, Notre Dame Academy and also at Active Chiropractic & Rehabilitation in Allouez, which is operated by Delaney’s father, Matthew.
De Pere residents can drop items off at St. Mary’s and St. Francis Xavier churches.
For more information, visit longjohnsforstjohns.org.