Season of giving is just in time for needy Outreach volunteers understand 'hunger is a year-round thing'

November 22, 1995|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,SUN STAFF

The wood shelves in the pantry at the North County Emergency Outreach Network (NCEON) were down to a few cans of peeled stewed tomatoes and corn until MacArthur Middle School donated a truckload of groceries and a dozen bags more arrived from local churches on Monday.

Marsha M. Frazier, president and chairman of the Glen Burnie nonprofit, said the group is accustomed to feast-or-famine.

"We're into the season of giving, where people do send food. However, by Feb. 1 everything is gone," said Mrs. Frazier, 51, of Glen Burnie. "Hunger is a year-round thing, not a seasonal thing. People are more giving around the holidays."

NCEON's supply of canned beans, soups and fruits could dwindle in a few days if demand is strong. More canned goods, spaghetti sauce, noodles and powdered milk are needed to fill empty space on the shelves. Meat also would be welcomed.

Yesterday, one refrigerator had one roasting chicken. Another had a few packages of lunch meat. The third refrigerator was empty of meat.

Although NCEON's office is closed this week for the Thanksgiving holiday, a line of people usually can be found waiting outside the door of the white building in the 300 block of S.E. 5th Ave.

The building, actually a garage donated by the Community Church of God, has been furnished through the help of several organizations, Mrs. Frazier said.

The volunteer-run agency, open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, helps the needy get groceries and prescriptions, and assists them in staving off evictions and utility shut-offs.

People are interviewed before receiving any assistance.

Mrs. Frazier said the number of people seeking NCEON's help has doubled in the past year, rising from 20 to 40 a day as social service programs have been cut.

"I get so frustrated. There are needs so real. It breaks my heart. We have to, as a committee, be able to help them and to help them help themselves to solve their problems," said Mrs. Frazier.

The group was founded in 1989 when several area churches decided to pool their resources to aid people in the community.

In its first year, NCEON served 1,814 adults and 3,218 children, and gave out $89,749 and 2,631 bags of food during the fiscal year Sept. 1, 1989, through Aug. 31, 1990. During the past fiscal year, NCEON served 3,534 adults and 5,017 children, and provided $84,892 and 6,556 bags of food.

To help through lean times, Barbara A. Birkenheuer, director of the Severna Park Assistance Network, said NCEON and her group refer cases to each other when one organization's pantry is full and the other's is almost empty.

"We go from very, very high to very, very low and back to very, very high again as Christmas approaches," said Mrs. Birkenheuer, of Severna Park.

Mrs. Frazier said it makes sense for the two groups to help each other because "we're all doing the same work and the thing is to get it out to the community."

For more information, or to make a donation to NCEON, call 766-1826.

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