Abraham Shanklin was sitting in church one Sunday when it came to him -- a way for the church to help the poor, even with members themselves struggling financially. All they'd need is a few hours and some ingredients from their kitchen cabinets.
He decided to pack an enormous lunch for the needy.
Saturday, Shanklin's dream will materialize when his church, Friendship Missionary Baptist, holds a free lunch for 150 of the county'shomeless.
Coordinating the event, Shanklin said, has been easier than he
Asbury Townneck United Methodist Church donated use of its cafeteria, which has a big kitchen. North Arundel Hospital helped with donations and is sending volunteers to help prepare the meal. Members of Shanklin's church contributed food and money.
"We're preparing a hot lunch, with sandwiches, fruit and desserts people have donated," says Shanklin, the church's associate minister.
Now the minister's main concern is getting homeless people to the Townneck church for "Feed the Hungry Day", scheduled for 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday.
"We want to get the word out to let people in the streets and shelters know we're having this and it's free," the pastor says. "They can come and bring their families and just take part in something the community wants to do for them."
The church has placed fliers around the Severna Park and Glen Burnie areas to notify people of the free event. One main place for people to be picked up and transported to the church is the Salvation Army offices on Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard.
Says Shanklin: "This is the first time I've ever done anything like this. We just thought that God has blessed us in our church, and we want to give back." Friendship Missionary Baptist Church has about 200 regular members.
The pastor's model for the program was North Arundel Hospital, his employer, which started a program to donate food to needy people in the Fort Meade area.
"I thought about their program and how other churches have been successful in getting the message out to people that although we're in a recession, if you have a little time, you can still let people know you care about them," says Shanklin.
The co-sponsors of the event hope at least150 people will come to the lunch, held in the auditorium of the Methodist church. Shanklin's church did not have space to hold the event, because the church is in the process of building a larger sanctuary.
When he mentioned the space problem, the Rev. Ronald Ward of Townneck United Methodist offered the use of his Severna Park church.
Ward's church donated non-perishable items and money, and is also providing entertainment during the meal in the form of church choirs.
Says Shanklin: "We decided to make it a community effort. We want people to know we do care about them, and even if we can't do a lot, we want to help as much as we can."