LONG BEFORE THE drought drained reservoirs and rivers, Graham and Sharon Loane had been thrifty with water.
When they moved to Westminster from Canada last year, they had hoped to continue their practice of gathering rain from spouts.
But the 50-gallon oak barrels that caught each raindrop had to be left at their Canadian home. Graham thought about buying plastic barrels, but there was something about the rich smell of whiskey-cured oak that told him, "Wait."
Two weeks ago, days before a torrential rain, the Loanes journeyed to Canada, purchased two barrels for $160, hauled them to their Diamond Hills home and set them up.
The morning after the storm, both 50-gallon barrels were filled, and the Loanes had the water reserve that they had counted on and cherished in Canada. They felt they could really call Westminster home.
Taps on the side of the barrels let them fill watering cans with ease. As rain comes and goes, Graham jokes that marketing barrels and taps might be a profitable venture.
"The pure rainwater is the best thing for the plants," Graham said. "And it's a great feeling, catching something so wonderful for free. With or without the water shortage, we would do this."
Each oak barrel weighs 120 pounds empty. The Loanes have them underneath drain spouts in the back of their home, and even their son, John, 7, is thrilled to open the taps to drain out rainwater. Jesse, 3 months, will share the thrill soon enough.
"I once lived in Africa and we used a 2,000-gallon water drum for everything," said Sharon Loane. "I like that we are not wasting the rain here."
Not enough of a good thing
When the Kits for Kids program expanded this year and offered free haircuts and new shoes in addition to backpacks and essential school supplies to Carroll County children, Kathy Brown, executive director, knew that Shepherd's Staff had taken a strong outreach program and made it better.
More than 500 people poured into the center the first day the services and items were available, and volunteers quickly realized there might not be enough of the good things.
More than 200 families had "shopped" for clothes by Thursday, vouchers for 240 pairs of new shoes had been distributed, and there was a waiting list for more than 100 pairs of shoes.
Ann Gifford, who coordinated the program, was so busy helping families select items that she couldn't get to the phone to send out the "more needed" call.
"We have not given out a book bag yet because we're asking people to come back hoping that we get more," said Brown. "We are already inspired by how the Carroll community can help others. That is why the first 500 kits could be distributed.
"It's the shortage of backpacks and the shoes, especially the shoes, that haunts me," Brown added. "Every child who needs shoes for school should have them. We hope someone out there can help us find a way to provide the $10 vouchers for shoes."
Let's fill the shelves with backpacks and fill Shepherd's Staff's coffers with cash.
The Diamond Hills neighborhood, which is between Washington and Gist roads, celebrates the end of summer tomorrow with a progressive picnic and each family is donating back to school items and backpacks.
My neighborhood, which is near Western Maryland College, supports the children's lemonade stand and bake sale each year, knowing that proceeds go to Shepherd's Staff's program.
We've all discovered that the little things we do make us feel a lot better.
Lisa Breslin's Central neighborhood column appears each Monday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.
Pub Date: 8/23/99