'Just Not Enough To Go Around'

One Of County's Elderly Poor Argues For A Change In Priorities

March 31, 1991|By Samuel Goldreich | Samuel Goldreich,Staff writer

One of the last people to come for Operation Food Sharing at the Salvation Army Thursday morning, "Mary" stepped forward to complain about the need to ask for handouts.

"Just say I'm a 66-year-old, retired on disability after 22 years working as a state social worker," she said.

"Like so many of the seniors, there's just not enough to go around with utilities and food and rent and everything else," Mary said while more than a dozen people patiently waited their turns in the GlenBurnie office. "I'd actually like to see them do more for families because they need it most. If they're going to do anything else, they should feed the poor."

Remembering when she was on welfare and needed help, Salvation Army office manager Melanie Thompson said she found the quarterly food give-away an extra blessing.

"Anybody who comes in and needs food and says, 'I'm hungry,' we give it to them, no questions asked," she said.

But there are some questions. While Mary talked, young mothers scurried back and forth, writing down their children's social security numbers before they got back in line.

Like everything else involving the government, Operation Food Sharing requires proper identification. Still, Thompson acknowledged, some people manage to hop from site to site, picking up more than their share without detection.

Mary said that people should not have to resort to seeking ex

tra help just because they're poor.

"You have people coming here who don't want to come here," Mary said. "This is a big blow to their self-esteem, and I think it's a disgrace. We're the richest country in the world. I know we had to fight that war, butwe could have used the money here."

She paused long enough to tout the volunteers at Faith Baptist Church in Glen Burnie, then asked with a big smile, "Do I get a bag now that I'm off my soap box?"

Not long after, the Salvation Army handed out the last of its 230 or sobags of groceries, each one topped with a copy of "War Cry," the group's monthly magazine.

Her own war cry over, Mary left, wishing everybody a "Happy resurrection."

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