Fawn Grove Compassion Center helping Harford and beyond

The warehouse ministry at the Fawn Grove Church of the Nazarene recently incorporated as a faith-based, non-profit organization called the Fawn Grove Compassion Center Inc.

Built by the Fawn Grove Church of the Nazarene congregation in 1999, it was used to collect, store and ship clothing, shoes, blankets and other essential goods to victims of famine, natural disasters and war.

The congregation sent its first container of clothing to Mozambique flood victims in 1992. After requests for containers of humanitarian aid increased, Nazarene Compassionate Ministries, the relief arm of the Church of the Nazarene based in Kansas, brought the warehouse operation under the "NCM umbrella" and called it the Fawn Grove Warehouse. Since then, more than 400 shipments have been delivered to 22 world areas, including the United States.

Today, the center will continue its work as a 509(a)(1) non-profit organization with a new board, which includes local businessmen Nick Whiteford, of Lower Chanceford Township, and Ben Hushon, of Peach Bottom Township.

"We wanted to make sure the work at the center will continue and that work and witness teams can come here and serve God in this way," Sharon Kessler, president and CEO of the center, said.

The center is about a mile south of the Fawn Grove square just behind the Fawn Grove Church building at 5300 Fawn Grove Road in Pylesville.

The newly incorporated ministry of the Fawn Grove Church will continue to provide humanitarian aid — clothing, hygiene items, shoes, blankets and school supplies — to those in need all over the world. Last year, the center sent 16 containers of humanitarian aid to four countries, including 3,602 boxes of Crisis Care Kits to U.S. veterans in Florida, New York and other states devastated by tornadoes and floods.

In addition, local families and individuals in Pennsylvania and Maryland burned out by fire or struggling financially received boxes of clothing, school supplies and household items from the center last year.

"We are available for folks that need clothing," Fawn Grove Pastor Jonathan Batchelder said. The ministry donated items that cannot be shipped overseas, such as personal-care items and food, to the Mason-Dixon Community Center in Delta.

"We give to needy people all over the world, but we start with the needy right here at home," John Borgal, who manages the center, said. The majority of clothing collected at the center and packed into boxes by volunteers is donated by southern York County and northern Maryland residents, he said.

Borgal is one of two full-time employees who work at the center along with one part-time employee and volunteers who donate their time when they can. Once or twice a month, a crew of 10 to 20 people puts together shipments before it goes off to its next destination.

Under a grant from the U.S. State Department, the center sent nine containers of humanitarian aid to the former Soviet Union countries of Moldova and the Ukraine. The center also sent a shipment to Haiti. The fair market value of all shipments sent in 2011 was $2,566,244.87.

"The items are distributed to the needy without regard to race, religion, ethnicity, political affiliation or ability to pay," Borgal said.

The Crisis Care Kits, which contain essential personal care hygiene items such as toothpaste, soap and shampoo, and School Pal Paks, which contain new school supplies, such as notebooks, pens and pencils, are donated by Nazarene churches across the country, Borgal said.

"I think it's a tremendous thing that has helped countless people both in our country and around the world," Batchelder said of the compassion center. The pastor said Fawn Grove's congregation has supported the organization throughout the years and that's one big reason why it has been so successful. "It's a valuable way to put our faith into action."

The center is open to receive donations from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and other times by appointment. The center's mailing address is 5300 Fawn Grove Road, Pylesville, MD 21132. For more information about the center and how to donate money or other items or to volunteer, call 410 452-8699. All donations are tax-deductible.

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