Realtors, brokers, bankers and accountants kicked off a food drive for Anne Arundel County's hungry on Friday, collecting thousands of pounds of canned goods and other non-perishable food.
Members of theAnne Arundel Association of Realtors hope to raise $100,000 worth offood in the next five weeks as part of the Harvest for the Hungry Campaign.
Severna Park broker Rich Dobry, now with RE/MAX Spirit, co-founded the campaign five years ago and has watched it mushroom into a regionwide, yearlong effort involving groups in five counties and Baltimore.
When he started the campaign, 800 Realtors from throughout theBaltimore region participated. Now, 10,000 volunteers help collect food, including about 3,000 from Arundel, Dobry said.
At the time, Dobry worked for Coldwell Banker. "I found December to be a slow time," he recalled. "The Realtors were doing some community work. The real need was for the food banks going empty in January."
For their part of the drive, to run through Dec. 31, local Realtors from 181 offices will distribute plastic food collection bags from their offices,at shopping centers and even door to door, said Dobry. He helped load the first bags of food into the van Friday morning -- 2,200 pounds worth.
"We give out 10 bags and hope to get 100 back," Dobry said.
Bruce Michalec, director of the
Anne Arundel County Food Bank,came to the association's office Friday morning to collect the firstbags of food -- from about 95 people -- and make the first of many deliveries to local church and community center pantries. The food will go to 70 centers in the county, Dobry said.
Campaign volunteers suggest donations of food such as canned meats and vegetables, peanutbutter, soups, cereals, juices, dry beans, gravy mix, powdered milk,spaghetti, rice, pancake mix, baby food and tuna fish. Cash contributions can be made to the Anne Arundel County Food Bank. Anyone interested in donating can drop off food at any Realtor's office.
"We try to get enough food to get into January, when the food banks are empty," Dobry said, explaining that the gush of holiday giving usually trickles off after Christmas.
Some 800,000 Marylanders are either hungry or at risk of hunger, said Wayne Flickinger, marketing manager for Maryland Food Bank, which also works with Harvest for the Hungry.On its own, the Anne Arundel food bank distributes 625,000 pounds a year to some 48,000 needy people.
Through a number of drives around the Baltimore region this year, the campaign is attempting to raise$1 million worth of food.
"There has been a lot of bad press about organizations that collect money," Flickinger said. "But when you give food, you know what's going to happen to your food."