Howard activists serve Baltimore with food and books

Amanda Yeager
Contact ReporterHoward County Times/Columbia Flier
By the end of the week, the donations had doubled, bringing the total to 3,500 pounds

A day after looting and fires closed convenience stores on a number of West Baltimore blocks following the death of Freddie Gray, Columbia resident Dylan Goldberg issued a call for food donations.

Less than 24 hours later, he had collected 1,700 pounds of non-perishable food, 150 pounds of meat, 400 pounds of produce, 250 subs and 25 cases of water to deliver to people living in the hardest hit areas.

By the end of the week, the donations had doubled, bringing the total to 3,500 pounds.

Goldberg, 24, who works as a legislative aide for state Sen. Guy Guzzone, called the community response "overwhelming.

"From this place of great privilege in Howard County, where we have resources, we need to do something, and what we have cannot be exclusive to us," he said. "We need to spread it and share it."

Goldberg took the donations to the Center for Graceful Living, a faith-based organization in Baltimore's McElderry Park, to be distributed to young Baltimoreans in the neighborhood.

Fresh and frozen meat donations went to St. Peter Claver Catholic Church in West Baltimore.

Now, a week later, Goldberg's teaming up with a local business in an effort to effect some long-term change.

Through Saturday afternoon, Goldberg and Beth Panageotou, who owns Greenrow Books on Ellicott City's Main Street, will be collecting children's books for underserved kids in Baltimore.

Goldberg said that he, Panageotou and former County Councilwoman Courtney Watson came up with the idea.

Last week, "[Watson] and I were leaving Sandtown [a hard-hit West Baltimore neighborhood] after helping with a food distribution there, and we were talking about how what we were doing was an immediate, short-term relief for Baltimore," Goldberg said. "Courtney kept thinking about what was a long-term cure, and we kept coming back to education and children."

The book drive came together when Goldberg and Watson dropped by Greenrow Books, and Panageotou said she'd like to help. Tuesday, the group announced the project on social media, promoting it with the hashtag #CitytoCity.

Community members who want to participate can donate new and gently used children's books, from baby board books through young adult novels, at the store on Thursday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.

Goldberg will bring the books to community events in Baltimore this weekend to distribute. He hopes to collect 1,000.

"It's sort of a next layer of effort," Goldberg said of the drive. "Last week was the Band-Aid, and now we're trying to create some sort of lasting impact."

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