Pantries need food for holidays and every day

November 20, 1994|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,Sun Staff Writer

Howard County agencies that provide food for the needy are stocking their pantries, even as they prepare to serve holiday dinners and deliver staples to the less fortunate.

Shelter and pantry coordinators say their biggest challenge is keeping their shelves stocked for days other than Thanksgiving and Christmas.

"If people want to donate food, I'll never turn it away," said Beverly Covert, coordinator for the Howard County branch of the Salvation Army.

The local Salvation Army branch acts as a clearinghouse for holiday food distribution in the county so that the same people aren't served by different organizations.

"The issue is how do we best serve the people in the community," said Larry Hunt, program director for the Community Action Council, a Columbia-based agency that helps the poor. "We can minimize duplication and make sure the benefit gets to the largest number of families."

So far, the Salvation Army has received 500 applications for Thanksgiving Day food through referrals from Community Action, the county school system, the Office on Aging, local churches and other agencies.

The number of applicants is about the same as last year. #F Applicants must demonstrate need based on income and expenses.

Each Thanksgiving meal provided through the Salvation Army includes a gift certificate from Giant Food for a turkey and for food collected by local schools and pantries.

The clearinghouse does not prevent local groups from helping ++ the needy through their own programs. But by contacting the Salvation Army, an organization can avoid giving food to people already helped by another group.

Meanwhile, volunteer families and organizations will provide /^ Thanksgiving meals to families at the county's homeless shelters, which include Grassroots in Columbia and the Domestic Violence Center of Howard County.

"We are so thankful all of our families are taken care of," said Linda Soule, executive director of Churches Concerned for the Homeless, a group of 29 county churches that operates five shelters for homeless families. "We wish people were so generous throughout the year."

Shelter officials still are seeking contributions of food and supplies, however.

"We're actually in pretty good shape . . . but we always accept donations of food we can give to our clients," said Judy Clancy, coordinator of the food programs at the Domestic Violence Center of Howard County.

Organizations accepting donations of food include:

* Community Action of Howard County, which maintains a food bank in Ellicott City. Those who wish to contribute nonperishable items to the food bank can call 313-6440.

* The Domestic Violence Center of Howard County, which maintains six shelters and is regularly in need of perishable items, such as bread, milk, peanut butter and jelly. The center also needs trash bags, paper towels and disposable diapers. Donors can call 997-0304.

* FISH of Howard County, which is seeking nonperishable items for its six pantries. Nonperishables can be donated by calling 964-8660.

* The Howard County branch of the Salvation Army, which needs nonperishable food for its Ellicott City pantry. Donations can be taken to the Salvation Army at 10176 Baltimore National Pike, 10B in the Bethany 40 Center, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.

* Grassroots Homeless shelters, which provide gift certificates for food, personal hygiene items and Christmas presents for adults and children. To make a donation, call 531-6006.

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