Pine Apple Center gets gifts from afar

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 5, 2004

Sister Julie Guillot, C.S.J., of Fairhope, who runs an affordable housing nonprofit on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay called Eastern Shore Affordable Houses Inc., has a favorite charity &045; the Edmundite Pine Apple Center complex in Wilcox County.

Each year in December, for the past three years, she has delivered a full truckload of household goods and toys for the poor served by the sisters who have been associated with the work of the Edmundites in this Wilcox County community center for many years.

The Pine Apple Center, located in a former all-black elementary school in the town of Pine Apple in eastern Wilcox, has a clinic, an adult daycare and nutrition center, a children’s learning center, a farmer’s market and a thrift shop and cafe &045; Mary’s Food and Fashion.

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The center, which has been in place for many years, has become a major provider of a range of services to the poorest of the poor, and others, in Wilcox County, one of the poorest counties in the Black Belt, Alabama and the United States.

The idea is simple. Sister Julie, who established the affordable housing nonprofit several years ago, receives more donated goods than can be used in her Eastern Shore ministry. So she takes from her abundance and shares with the nuns and those whom they serve in Pine Apple through the community center.

This year, Sister Julie and her helper, Bertil Danielson, made the 3 1/2-hour trip from the Mobile area to Pine Apple on Dec. 16 in a 24-foot U-haul truck filled to the brim. Items included such things as hospital beds, mattresses, medicines, crutches, portable commodes, walkers. Also they brought toys, new and used, for children who otherwise would not have Christmas in the area served by the community center. There are sufficient toys so that all the children in a family identified by the Pine Apple sisters get toys, and not just one.

In addition to medical equipment and supplies and toys, this year Sister Julie brought nine sofas, bicycles, clothes, Christmas trees and decorations.

She and Danielson, who is a volunteer in the Fairhope affordable housing operation, love to make the trip each year. Sister Julie says it would be hard to do it without his help. She added, &uot;It’s a great thrill for him to be a part of it.&uot; Sister Kathy Navarro, S.S.J., who runs Mary’s Food and Fashion, among other responsibilities, said how much the annual coming of Sister Julie and her truck full of wonderful things means for the local residents served by the Pine Apple Center. Navarro said that the Pine Apple sisters keep a list of families with special needs but beyond that, she said, the community served by the sisters and the center are very good

about spreading the word when donated goods are available.

They make sure, Sister Kathy said, that the people who need such things the most hear about them and come and pick them up. For example, she said that the nine sofas were gone in two days. The Edmundite Missions serves the poor living in rural Alabama.

It is sponsored by the Society of St. Edmund, a Catholic order of priests and brothers based in Vermont. The ministry, located in Selma, has been serving the African-American poor of the Deep South since 1937.

For information, call (334) 872-2359.