Support for those in need

Shepherd's Staff: Carroll's ecumenical charity finds many ways to serve the less fortunate.

Bright Lights

October 08, 2001

HUNDREDS of needy Carroll County children headed back to classes last month carrying a backpack filled with school supplies and wearing a new pair of shoes. The 650 kids also got a new T-shirt and some got fresh haircuts to start the year.

Shepherd's Staff made it happen, as it has for seven years, with generous donations from the community and a strong faith that any shortfall would be covered.

"We hope and pray a lot, and thankfully we've never had to say to children that we don't have enough," explains Kathryn Brown, the charity's longtime director.

Before the children and families arrived at the Westminster center, volunteers filled the kits with pencils, paper, binders and crayons. Book-bags were stacked, the shoe store vouchers readied. The shed was stocked with serviceable clothing, sized and sorted.

For more than a decade, this ecumenical organization of Carroll churches, schools and civic groups has held out a lifeline for thousands of low-income and no-income households.

Whether getting a hot shower or using the washer and dryer, aid with overdue rent or finding a ride to a job, there's help on call at the 10-room house on Carroll Street.

At Thanksgiving, turkey dinner is served to more than 300 people (with takeout for those unable to attend). There's a weekly soup kitchen, and a Blessings Closet stocked with household supplies and diapers for families.

Blanket drives provide warmth for the homeless. The annual Call for Coats campaign collects and distributes winter clothing. Easter baskets of toys and supplies are a welcome gift in the spring.

The charity relies mainly on volunteers and on donations of goods and services from individuals and businesses. To build the cash balance, it sells gift baskets of breakfast items, with decorations handsewn from scraps of clothing.

For those faltering on the rocky ground of need, Shepherd's Staff invariably proves to be a trusted point of support in Carroll County.

Bright Lights spotlights people and organizations that make a difference in the quality of life in this community. It appears periodically in this column.

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