Eight-year-old Michael Bobbick of Annapolis had saved up his allowance for weeks.
He usually saves his $2 weekly allowance for video games. But this time, he saved for two months to buy bingo prizes for the homeless.
The prizes -- an assortment of little toys, games and toiletry items -- were distributed to residents of Sarah's House, a 64-bed homeless shelter, during a lively bingo game yesterday.
Michael, his family and 10 other families spent the snowy afternoon entertaining andcooking dinner for about 40 residents of the shelter, located on federal property at Fort Meade.
"I really appreciate that they come to help and give us something to do," said Patricia Brooks of Severn, who has been at the shelter with her three children for four days. "Without groups coming in here, there's not much to do but watch TV."
"I think it's great, especially for the kids. It gives them something to do," said Robin Scott of Severn, who has been at the shelter 11days.
Denise Andersen of Riva, who helped organize the dinner andactivities, said members of St. Mary's Home School Association in Annapolis decided to spend an afternoon at Sarah's House as part of their Lenten service program. Lent is the period that precedes Easter.
The purpose of the project, now in its second year, is to give families an opportunity to do community service together. Parents also hope to teach their children about the value of service to others.
"I think it helps them feel good about themselves to help someone else. And it helps them appreciate what they have a lot more," said Tina Bobbick, Michael's mother.
Pam Bukowski, also of Annapolis, who has five children and a sixth on the way, said she wants her children to understand the importance of serving oth ers less-fortunate than themselves.
"It's important for them to see that service is a part of our lives; it's not just something you do when it's convenient or when you want to," she said.
Michael seemed to understand all too well the realities of being homeless and the need to get involved.
"They could die out there, living outside," he said. Michael said he wanted to visit the shelter because "it's a nice thing to do."
In addition to cooking a meal of chicken casserole, mixed salad and deserts, the volunteers brought bags full of other items needed by shelter residents.
Sister Grace Sciamanna, assistant director of the emergency shelter, said volunteer groups help keep the place running.
"It helps a lot," she said. "We try to provide our guests with the things they need -- personal care items, Pampers. Many of the things are expensive. Our intent here is to have people save money so they can find a (permanent) place to live.
"This group brought in bags and bags of stuff," she said. "Not only does it help us with the budgetwhen groups like this come, but it also gives our guests an opportunity to mix with others from the community."