Tammy Singer's voice tightens when she talks of barefoot children living in poverty and people without heat during the winter, especially when those people are a day's drive away in the Appalachian regions of Virginia and West Virginia.
"A lot of money is sent overseas to poor foreign countries, and people think 'Oh, that can't happen in America. But it does," said the 35-year-old Arnold mother of two. "They're America's forgotten poor."
Mrs. Singer and 200 other members of the Severna Park Baptist Church are doing their part to help the people in Appalachia. They will accept old or unused clothes and school supplies tomorrow for the needy families of Berwind, W.Va.
The church at 506 Benfield Road will accept donations between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The items will be taken to Berwind in a small Nissan pickup donated by McKeithan's Used Car Sales in Towson.
Judy Myer, director of the church's preschool, said the chance to help the people living in the mountain region was a top priority after Mrs. Singer suggested it.
"Our church sort of decided to become more involved in missions and help more people," said Ms. Myer. "So when Tammy came and said, 'Would we do this?', we looked at it as another opportunity to help the world and meet the needs of people."
The church is working through the Appalachian Mountain Ministry, an outreach program headed by the Rev. Emory Thacker and Connie Thacker of Arnold.
Mrs. Thacker said the ministry, which she and her husband have financed for the past three years, has a rectory and school in Tazewell, Va., a town on the border between West Virginia and Virginia.
The towns in the Appalachians have endured some rough times, said Mrs. Thacker. Since 1960, the coal mines that provided work and fueled the local economies have shut down. The unemployment rate is triple the U.S. rate, she said.
Many homes in the Appalachians don't have running water or electricity and more than 50 percent of the children live in poverty, said Mrs. Thacker. The people living in the mountains need the support of those who are better off, she said.
"I think the biggest need is for people to remember them," Mrs. Thacker said. "There are little children running around barefoot living in squalor. We should think about that. We should ask ourselves, 'What can I do to help these people?'
"They're very caring, loving people. It tears my heart apart when I see them living in such poverty."
Ms. Myer said phones at the church have been ringing constantly since the church announced the outreach effort.
"From the phone calls coming in, I don't know if the trucks can hold [the donations]," Ms. Myer said. "I'm expecting it to be overflowing."
Mrs. Singer, who found out about the Thackers' ministry in the Shepherd's Guide, a sort of Christian Yellow Pages, said she was surprised at the enthusiasm of the church.
"I have never been to a church that has more love in it than this church," Mrs. Singer said. "I think it's great because so many churches these days are walking the line between what is politically correct and what is politically incorrect, instead of following their hearts. This church follows its heart."