Loan closet aids families in need of medical supplies

A valuable resource exists in the Loch Raven community and few residents probably even know it exists. Fortunately, most people do not have need of this service — but when the need arises, it is nice to know where to turn.

In the old Loch Raven Elementary School, 1801 Glen Keith Blvd., the Ninth District Health Committee operates a loan closet, open Tuesdays, from 9:30 to 11: 30 a.m., where Baltimore County residents can borrow a variety of health care equipment at no cost (though a refundable deposit is required on some items).

Items available for loan include wheel chairs, walkers, crutches, canes, bath benches, potty chairs, bed rails and more.

The Ninth District Health Committee is a nonprofit, and is not funded by government. Therefore, it depends upon the donation of equipment in good condition, financial contributions and volunteers to staff the loan closet.

This is the loan closet's 59th year of operation. It originated back in 1952, when the county had 15 health centers. In each region, local volunteers helped staff and operated separate loan closets. Since then, the county has decreased the number of centers, volunteers have become more sparse and the loan closets have all but disappeared.

The Ninth District Health Committee, however continues to operate, with six volunteers staffing the Tuesday morning loan closet one time per month. For information, call 410-665-0898.

Bargain hunters, take note: A new thrift shop is opening at Arnolia United Methodist Church, 1776 E. Joppa Road, on Monday, Aug. 22, 11 a.m., featuring gently used clothes for men, women and children, plus household items at reasonable prices.

After the grand opening, the shop will be open Mondays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the second Saturday of each month, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Proceeds from the shop will fund the church's outreach program, which helps Parkville residents facing hard times. When visiting, use the office door entrance at the side of the church.

The church is also collecting staple food items for the Assistance Center of Towson Churches, a nonprofit that pools the resources of Towson area churches and, using those resources, helps residents who are dealing with hard times.

When ACTC opened in 1985, 14 churches supported the effort. Today 48 churches are involved.

To support ACTC, Arnolia United Methodist Church is holding a staple food drive through August. Drop off donations at the church on Sunday mornings or during office hours, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (except lunchtime). Or, call 410-908-4922 for pick up. Call the church office at 410 665-7005 for information about either program.

If you happened to be at Barnes & Noble on The Avenue in White Marsh on a Thursday in July, you may have seen a story time for preschool children. That sounds typical for a book store — but this story time was special. Instead of speaking the story, the story was signed using American Sign Language.

Many of the 14 children registered for the program are deaf, or have some hearing loss, and attend Maryland School for the Deaf in Columbia, or have siblings who attend the school.

The program was offered for all four Thursdays in July and was hosted by Maryland School for the Deaf and funded by a grant from State Department of Education, Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services.

After the story, children were invited to participate in activities reinforcing concepts in the story, such as writing a postcard or coloring a dog and cat and re-enacting the story.

When the children departed, they were given a copy of the book to read at home.

For more information about services for young children with hearing loss, contact Maryann Swann, director, Family Education and Early Childhood Department, Maryland School for the Deaf, at 410-480-4545; by video phone at 410-696-7446; or via email at

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