'Good hearts' in action Thanksgiving: Volunteers feed and clothe thousands of people around the city.

November 29, 1996|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,SUN STAFF

Mark Troyer was at his brother's house in Pasadena yesterday -- eating and watching television and other activities typical of Thanksgiving -- until he hopped in his car and drove to Baltimore to give away things he didn't need.

Unlike scores of other volunteers who lent a hand to the poor throughout the metro area yesterday, Troyer didn't have any turkey or pie to hand out, just some old clothes.

A cook at Washington College in Chestertown, Troyer, 35, stood outside Our Daily Bread on Cathedral Street yesterday morning and said to a homeless man, "Want a sweater?"

"Hey, thanks," the man answered.

While Troyer's whim brought help to just a few -- including a man to whom he gave a pair of socks he had packed for the holiday visit to his brother's house -- volunteers at shelters and churches around Baltimore fed and clothed thousands of people.

"It's nice that people have real good hearts," said Charles Brown, 47, who ate brunch at Our Daily Bread, made a selection from the trunk of Troyer's car and headed for Bea Gaddy's annual turkey dinner at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in East Baltimore.

The desire to serve others -- to stand next to tables and ask folks if they would like another cup of juice or a helping of mashed potatoes -- separated the civic-minded from their family gatherings.

"This is something I've been saying I wanted to do," said Aleta Lewis, who pitched in at the Helping Up Mission at East Baltimore Street and Central Avenue with her nephew Brandon, 10.

Said Lewis: "This was my priority today. If I don't eat, I won't die."

Many of the people waiting in line for free food have the kind of troubles that the rest of us are thankful to have been spared.

But one woman was simply guided by her sense of taste.

"I can't cook and my mother's cooking is terrible," said Janol Greene, 25, as she stood with her infant daughter outside Our Daily Bread.

"I just wanted to get something good to eat."

For the rest -- single men and women, couples with and without children, the old and the young -- money is hard to come by.

"I don't have any extra money," said Art Killmer, 62, who dined at Church On the Rock on Patapsco Avenue in Brooklyn.

"My wife is sick in bed and I wouldn't have eaten if I hadn't come here."

Joan Houston, 44, said she was in the same situation. "I was almost evicted last week and I had nothing for Thanksgiving," said Houston after being fed at the Gaddy feast, where volunteers outnumbered the diners by midday.

xTC Nearly 2,500 people were served, a slight drop from last year, according to Sandra E. Briggs, Gaddy's daughter and an organizer of the event.

Clifton Tull was packing a box of food to take home to his five children when he surveyed the people who showed up to give Gaddy a hand.

"It's nice to see people from around here helping out," said Tull, 35.

"Instead of swinging drugs, they're swinging Thanksgiving plates."

Pub Date: 11/29/96

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