Donation collection day for SPAN’s Thanksgiving holiday caring program began cheerfully with folks toting bags, bins and baskets of food into their Benfield Road offices at 10 a.m. Nov. 12.
Shortly thereafter, excitement took over as an Anne Arundel County Fire Department ladder truck and two emergency vehicles pulled up to deliver 106 Thanksgiving meals and an equal number of gift certificates. They also presented a $600 check from the county’s Retired Firefighters Association.
Unloading 106 festively packaged cans and non-perishable foods proved a challenge for Fire Department Division Chief Lisa Mayers and firefighters from Jones Station Fire Company 23 and the Anne Arundel County Fire Training Academy in Millersville. Preschoolers from a class at Our Shepherd Lutheran Church next door who’d come to watch were fascinated.
“This is the seventh year we’ve participated in SPAN’s Thanksgiving holiday caring program so we’ve had a lot of practice.” Mayers said.
SPAN co-directors Jennifer Pumphrey and Ellen Kinsella were relieved when the fire department initially promised 40 meals. They needed a total of 160 donors to provide meals and grocery gift certificates for a ham or turkey for 160 families. So they were “ecstatic” when they learned Monday morning more than 100 meals were on the way.
Mayers feared the department wouldn’t hit the previous year’s goal.
“A week ago we could only account for three meals,” she said. “But then everyone descended on us with food…especially members of our retirees’ organization. We had plenty, so I rounded up 100 Thanksgiving bags from Wegman’s plus six extras and we filled them to the brim.”
Once unloaded, the bags were transferred from the parking lot to the SPAN pantry – an operation suddenly interrupted by an emergency call for Jones Station.
Four of the firefighters jumped into the ladder truck and sped off with sirens blaring. The five remaining had a good deal of muscle and shuttled the bags to the back entrance to be received by SPAN volunteer.
Inside, the kitchen overflowed with bananas and bagels left over from SPAN’s annual Turkey Trot 5K fundraiser held the day before at Kinder Farm Park. The event had 180 runners and raised $21,000.
Consequently, Pumphrey, Tignor and other volunteers worked primarily in an adjoining room where they lined up the donation bags and baskets on long tables.
Donor Meredith Callanan, from Arnold, came through the back door carrying two autumn-hued “Get Your Pie On” bags full of food.
Pumphrey, who heads SPAN’s Christmas Holiday Caring Program, took a moment to talk about the effort.
“We already have more than 160 families from our primary area of Severna Park, Arnold, Broadneck and Millersville that we’ve matched with donors who’ll provide holiday meals and a gift for each child,” she said “Clients eligible for the program are brand new and currently facing an emergency situation. We offer the program to get them through the holidays during their crisis.”
She added SPAN is accepting donations for Christmas dinners or gift cards from Target or Walmart for last-minute gifts for families who aren’t registered for the program. For information on how to make a donation of food or money, visit www.spanhelps.org, call 410-647-0889, or stop by the offices at 400 Benfield Road behind Our Shepherd Lutheran Church.
Christmas holiday caring gift collection will take place Dec. 9, 2-5 p.m. at the back entrance of the church which donates storage space.
Jingle Bell Hayride tickets
Kinder Farm Park announced tickets are on sale for its Jingle Bell Hayride Dec. 1, 10 a.m.-noon with rides scheduled every half hour. A rain/snow date is set for Dec. 8, 10 a.m.-noon.
Kids and adults can enjoy a festive hayride, snacks, warm drinks, toasting marshmallows and a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Clause.
Cost is $5 per person with a $1.26 processing fee. Children under three are free. Tickets may be purchased through Nov. 29 at www.kinderfarmpark.org or until hayrides are full. Friends of Kinder Farm Park members can visit the website to request using their free hayride passes.
Dec. 1 is the first day the Kinder Farmhouse will be open for the holidays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The Friends of Kinder Farm Park Historical Society invite visitors to step back in time and enjoy the homey atmosphere and beautiful Christmas decorations created by Anne Arundel County garden clubs.
Docents will be on hand to describe holidays celebrated by Henry and Hilda Kinder and their eight children.
The historical society scheduled additional holiday open houses Dec. 8 and 9 and Jan. 12, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.