When County Executive Robert R. Neall got there, the cupboard was far from bare. In fact, it was stocked full of cereal, rice, soup and canned vegetables. But the piggy bank was empty.
Jacki Coyle didn'tbeat around the bush in telling Neall the news. When asked what the Glen Burnie food pantry needed most, Coyle answered frankly: "Money."
"Our budget is whatever donations come in, so sometimes we run out," she said. "Today, we don't have any money."
After touring the pantry, run by the North County Emergency Outreach Network, a non-profit coalition of 30 churches, Neall told the leaders he could take a hint.
Whipping out his checkbook, Neall wrote a $250 check to tideNCEON over for a few days.
The ecumenical organization relies on donations from church members and other charities for its daily operation, Coyle said. Although the pantry shelves usually are stacked high with food, the piggy bank often runs empty as families line up foremergency money to pay the rent or utilities.
Growing numbers of laid-off workers and newly poor families are lining up at NCEON's doors. Leaders last month reported a dramatic increase in the number of people seeking food or help with rent and electricity bills. During the winter, the organization assisted a third more people than it did the previous year.
NCEON gave out $89,000 in emergency checks to assist families last year and expects to match that amount this year. While requests for money have been steady, the demand for food has increased sharply. Volunteers spend most of their time filling food baskets and sometimes delivering them to the homebound.
Neall, who visited NCEON's pantry on 5th Avenue yesterday to recognize the volunteers' efforts, promised to support the group's efforts.
He told NCEON leaders that he has started a monthly food drive to encourage county workers to give to the needy.
Baskets are set up each month in county government buildings for employees to donate food, which is given to the Anne Arundel Food Bank in Deale.
The county executive concluded his half-hour stop at the pantry by teasing the leaders thathe "already got the drift that you need a little money." He pulled out his checkbook and donated the $250 to the group.
"This isn't county money," he told Coyle and the Rev. David Asplin, pastor of Christ the Servant Lutheran Church in Severn and an active member of NCEON.
With NCEON leaders and volunteers repeatedly thanking him, Neallleft to head to another charitable agency. He is stopping at different organizations all week to recognize the work of volunteers as partof Maryland's Volunteer Week.