Pouring Foundations for Castles in the Air

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 26, 1995

Recently, as we remembered the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we again heard excerpts from his famous "I Have a Dream" speech, first spoken on Aug. 23, 1963. Over the years, these four words have ridden the winds that crisscross our country, dipping into valleys of despair and rising to lofty peaks of hope and aspiration.

Almost 20 years later, a man from Westminster also had a dream. In Dominic Jollie's dream, he saw hungry children fed, single moms and sometimes dads being offered help to nourish their families, and elderly men and women, no longer able to work, being assisted in their day-to-day living.

The U.S. Census for 1980 revealed that almost 25 percent of the people of Carroll County were living below the poverty level. Late in 1981, Mr. Jollie laid the groundwork, and on April 5, 1982, the county commissioners signed a proclamation announcing May 30, 1982, the first collection date for Food Sunday. The name, Carroll County Food Sunday, was adopted because the initial collections were done through the churches of the county.

The first distribution of food was in Westminster on June 30, 1982. In the first two months, CCFS helped 150 households, and by October 1982, the number had doubled. Soon, two more food banks were opened, in Taneytown and Sykesville.

Five years later, the quarter ending with September 1987, 1,843 households have been served; in 1992, 4,774, and in 1994, 3,566 households were assisted during the third quarter of each year.

The numbers coming for help have declined the last two years, but these numbers still reveal an ever-present need for help. The majority of people coming to Food Sunday have at least one member of the household working, but find their incomes inadequate to meet the needs of their families.

In the beginning, churches were asked to designate one Sunday each quarter as CCFS; today, some churches have one Sunday each month set aside when donations for Food Sunday are collected.

There is also a blanket mailing to all people of Carroll County four times a year. The money received from this mailing provides funds to supplement the donations of food to help balance the diet of the recipients, and also provides vouchers for milk given to families with children under 15 years of age.

At the conclusion of his book, "Walden," Henry David Thoreau wrote: "If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them." You, the people of Carroll County, have been and are the foundations for Mr. Jollie's "castles in the air."

Your generous and continued support of food donations and money gifts have kept our shelves supplied, though they get pretty low at times. Many other groups and individuals in our communities have joined the churches in assisting with this project. Students in our schools have had contests which have brought in two to three tons of food on a single drive. Scout troops, civic clubs and community organizations have given support, and local stores donate food weekly to the program.

This will be the third year that the post office has sponsored a drive which has resulted in several tons of food each time. Its efforts were especially admirable in the winter of 1994, when ice and snow made the delivery of the mail a formidable task in itself. But the carriers faithfully distributed empty paper bags on their routes, and brought in the filled ones regularly.

From its beginning until November 1993, the program was handled entirely by volunteers under the umbrella of the Human Services Programs. More than 100 volunteers have been involved over the 13 years. Food Sunday is open in Westminster four days a week, and once a week in Taneytown and Sykesville. A file is kept on each family applying for assistance; at present, we have two file cabinets filled with the records of active participants.

Each time a center is open, four volunteers are needed to interview each applicant and pack the food. Many hours of "behind the scenes" work goes on as well. When drives bring in the much-needed and appreciated food, hundreds of cans and boxes need to be sorted for storing and stocking the shelves. People are needed every week to pick up food given by the stores and then unload and sort it at the distribution centers.

Also, a perusing of the files needs to be done periodically. Our volunteers are an essential part of the foundation we are building so this service can continue. Of course, the need for food is always with us, but at this time we want to emphasize our need for more volunteers.

As a 10-year volunteer, I am asked frequently just what CCFS is and how it works. I hope the information included here will make you a bit more aware of this program, and might encourage one or two or more of you to become a stone in our foundation as we continue to help fulfill Dominic Jollie's dream, which has become ours as well.

Fran Bartlett

Westminster

More Growth, Less Freedom

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