THE SHELVES are almost bare in the food pantry at Bethel Assembly of God in Savage. That is not good news for the 50 or so neighborhood families that rely on the church for regular donations of food.
Bethel's congregation provides most of the food that the pantry distributes to needy Savage-area families. The Howard County Food Bank also contributes about 80 cases of canned goods to the pantry each year.
The county food bank is administered by the Community Action Council, a nonprofit organization serving low-income county residents. The food bank supports nine pantries in the county, including the one at Bethel Assembly.
According to Bob Naylor, a program assistant for the Community Action Council, the pantries and food bank provide emergency food assistance to "close to 400 families each year."
Despite the generosity of Bethel's congregation and the food bank, the demand for assistance in Savage is still greater than the current food supply.
"We are in desperate need," said Bethel food pantry volunteer Tracy Carlson. Carlson oversees the pantry with Bethel Assembly Associate Pastor Johnny Green and church member Anita Coleman.
They are asking community members to help restock the shelves. A list of "urgent needs" includes: cereals, boxed meals, canned meats and tuna, stews, rice, bread, peanut butter, jelly, pasta and pasta sauces, frozen foods and vegetables, toiletries and toilet paper.
The church has purchased a freezer so it can store perishable items.
Donations may be dropped off at the church, at 9001 Vollmerhausen Road, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays and from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays.
People who need help "can come as often as they want," said Carlson. "They can come every day if they need to."
Carlson would like these families to know that "we're here if you need help. We have job referrals. We can point them in any direction they need to go."
Information: Bethel Assembly of God, 301-498-3344, or Howard County Food Bank, 410-313-6567.
Snow in August
Tree squirrels are so common in this area that we tend to ignore them unless they are living in our attics or darting in front of our cars.
In August of last year, 30-year Savage resident Priscilla Pitts had several of the creatures living in her back yard. Two of the squirrels were unique: They had pure white fur and shiny red eyes.
"They were perfect in every way but color," said Pitts of the two albino tree squirrels she named Sleet and Snow.
Pitts knew the squirrels were easy prey for the hawks that live near her home. Their bright white fur made it impossible for them to blend safely into the natural landscape. Pitts hid sunflower seeds beneath forsythia bushes so the squirrels could eat without being seen by the predators that flew overhead.
The squirrels thrived for months until "Snow turned up missing in January," said Pitts. Then Sleet disappeared sometime in early March.
"We worried and pampered over those babies," said Pitts, "and when they turned up missing we were heartbroken."
No one knows for sure the fate of Sleet and Snow, but we hope they made their way down the deeply wooded trails of nearby Savage Park.
Pitts hopes that only the gray ones will come to Savage this year. As much as she enjoyed the white squirrels, she does not "want to go on an emotional roller coaster again."
Three local members of the Kangaroo Kids Precision Jump Rope Team won medals at the Amateur Athletic Union's Junior Olympics this month in Knoxville, Tenn.
Amy Simpson, 9, was awarded with six medals, including a gold in the overall events category for girls ages 9 and younger. She also placed first in the speed and power jumping competitions.
Her brother, Scott Simpson, 11, won a bronze medal in the overall events category for boys ages 11 and younger, and took first place in the double Dutch power jumping competition.
Gold, silver and bronze medals went to Amy Simpson and Phillip Goldberg, 8, for their performance in the pair's routine competition.
Congratulations to these young Jessup residents and their coaches, Jim McCleary and Hester Butterfield.