Nearly 200 children received presents this holiday season courtesy of the Brooklyn Park-based charity Drops of Love Foundation.
Founder Brandy Supik and her team of volunteers delivered presents and necessities to children and families in need around Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties, as well as Baltimore City. This is the fourth year Drops of Love has made Christmas morning a little bit sweeter for many area families.
During its first Christmas collection, the organization helped 65 people and each year the number has increased. This year, 190 children received presents from the group.
Knowing children will receive presents — and necessities— during the holidays, is why Supik organizes collections each year.
“Christmas morning I get to watch my son open his gifts and see the joy in his eyes when he opens something he really wanted,” Supik said. “Now I get to watch my son open his gifts and also think about all of those other little kids who are opening their gifts at the same exact time and how they too now have joy in their eyes.”
Supik receives suggestions of children in need and then looks for people to sponsor them by reaching out on Facebook. She asks each sponsor to give at least five presents to each child, but Supik said many sponsors provide more, allowing her to also distribute gifts to siblings of the nominated children.
This year, Fireline Corporation in Halethorpe and Shoppers grocery store on Fort Avenue in South Baltimore also collected donations for the Drops of Love Christmas drive. Tablets, shoes, Barbie and baby dolls, bikes, clothes and other items were collected through the donation.
Drops of Love also provides gifts to families who are placed on the Friends School of Baltimore’s Giving Tree. For the past three years, once Supik fulfills the wish lists of those who are nominated, she donates items to some of the children from the tree. This year, the organization helped 26 children through the Giving Tree.
Once the presents were dropped off to Supik, her husband, son and volunteers Jade and Tracy Schmidt, Jaelyn Thomas, Teriah Campbell, Thomas Weedon, Elise Pennington and Paula Hoyle delivered the gifts to the families Dec. 12-17.
“It takes a village and I'm so blessed to have them in my life,” Supik said.
Children from Lansdowne, Halethorpe, Relay and Riverview elementary schools; Lakeland and Maree G. Ferring elementary and middle schools; Lansdowne Middle and the City of Refuge in Brooklyn received the donations.
While many of the children request toys for their items, some ask for basic needs. Supik said over 20 children asked for tooth brushes and bath towels for their presents this year.
“When a child asks for a new tooth brush and bath towel for Christmas it's kind of hard to turn your head and not help them,” Supik said. “It's something most take for granted. For others, it's something they look forward to. That's why I do what I do.”
The Drops of Love foundation holds various events throughout the year to help those in need. Each year, the group holds a Share the Love event in Brooklyn and this year collected donations to send to troops in Afghanistan, held a quarter auction to benefit someone with cancer and dropped off Thanksgiving baskets to families.
The organization also collected dance items, like ballet shoes and costumes, and sent them to children in Liberia so that they can dance. This collection was held in honor of Kiersten Walko, a North County High School senior who was killed in a hit-and-run accident in October of 2017. The driver is still at large.
Although every Drops of Love collection is meaningful, the Christmas drive is perhaps the most touching, as Supik often hears back from those she has helped.
“We get multiple emails and texts from parents and guardians after they receive the gifts and wrap them,” Supik said. “They are always so thankful and overwhelmed with the amount of love put into the items given to their child and how personal it is.
“Some send me pictures of Christmas morning. Some send me thank you cards to forward to the child's sponsor.”
Email your North County news from Brooklyn Park, Pumphrey and Linthicum to Heather Vecchioni at email@example.com.