St. Vincent de Paul offers House in a Box to people who have lost all

COLUMBIA—South Carolina’s St. Vincent de Paul councils want to help people who need a House in a Box.

This national program provides families who have lost everything in a natural disaster with new household furnishings such as beds and bedding, dressers, a sofa, a dining table with chairs, kitchen and bathroom supplies, and more.

Anybody who has registered for assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and has an ID number can apply, said Russ Jones, the council treasurer for the diocese and at St. Joseph Church. He is supervising the application process at the intake center, which is located at St. Joseph’s parish activity center, 3512 Devine St.

House in a boxJones is handling applications primarily for the Midlands and Upstate, but said they will accept them from anyone in the state. People must apply in person at the intake center, which is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Started by the Austin and Dallas councils in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina, House in Box has also helped people after tornados, wild fires and floods. St. Vincent de Paul is currently involved in 21 disasters across the country, Jones said.

The Columbia intake center, a collaboration of all of the state’s St. Vincent de Paul councils, has only been open for two weeks and they have over 100 applications, Jones said.

“Our goal is to provide a thousand families with furniture,” he added. “We want to help people. Our mission is to serve the needy.”

The St. Vincent de Paul Society will take applications for about the next six months, he said, but the program could run as long as 18 months. The last date to register with FEMA, however, is Dec. 4.

“As long as we are collecting money and able to buy furniture we will continue,” he said. “We want to be there when they’re ready.”

In order to house the supplies, Marilyn Gray, president of the St. Vincent de Paul district council and St. Peter Church conference, is working to find warehouse space and raise funds. It costs an average of $1,200 to purchase supplies for a family of four, based on bulk discounts.

To learn more about the program, call Jones at 803-254-7646. To donate, make checks to: SVDP Charleston Council Disaster Fund, c/o St. Joseph Church, 3512 Devine St., Columbia, SC 29205. To register with FEMA in South Carolina visit or call 800-621-3362.