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Gilbert: Food pantry a success thanks to support from community

For 10weeks from April 23 to June 27, more than 50 people volunteered some 882 hours at a pop-up food pantry at Grace Lutheran Church in Westminster. At the end of the food distribution on June 6, some of the volunteers stopped for a picture. Top left to right: Ann Gilbert, Amy Bittner, Jim Kunz, and Lindsey Westervert. Middle row; Maggie Kunz, Kevin Dayhoff, Caroline Babylon, and Barb Croft. Bottom row: Steve Bowersox, Bob Lord, and Steph Albright.
For 10weeks from April 23 to June 27, more than 50 people volunteered some 882 hours at a pop-up food pantry at Grace Lutheran Church in Westminster. At the end of the food distribution on June 6, some of the volunteers stopped for a picture. Top left to right: Ann Gilbert, Amy Bittner, Jim Kunz, and Lindsey Westervert. Middle row; Maggie Kunz, Kevin Dayhoff, Caroline Babylon, and Barb Croft. Bottom row: Steve Bowersox, Bob Lord, and Steph Albright. (Submitted photo)

From April 13 until the end of June, Grace Lutheran Church in Westminster was the location of a pop-up pantry that served as the temporary distribution site for Carroll County Food Sunday during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March, while we were all quarantined in our homes and the seriousness of the pandemic settled upon us, many folks took the time to pause and reflect on what the community was missing; what was not happening in our city and county. As a social worker, Westminster councilmember, and community leader, I found our community and our citizens needed something significant — food.

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However, as I was working on finding a solution for the need for food in our community, I also found many people missed something else. For some, it was a way to help others when they were feeling helpless. For others it was the simple knowledge of knowing people cared.

I found myself feeling blessed as I directed, connected and watched in profound amazement as a temporary food pantry sprang into life from out of nowhere. I saw our businesses, churches, civic organizations, community leaders, and citizens come together through their generosity and commitment to our community. It is a gracious reminder of what makes Westminster and Carroll County — a great city and county in which to live and work.

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I want to thank everyone who contributed to the pantry and supported our community with their food, money, time, supplies, and expertise. Through every email, text, phone call, and interaction I feel so blessed to be part of such a tremendous community effort in such a short time.

Through this endeavor, we raised over $8,000. We traded bread for produce and eggs for canned goods. The networking with other pantries and with food sources throughout the county was magical. We have given out hope along with soup, tuna, bacon, ham, lettuce, potatoes, cereal, eggs, milk, pasta, bread, ground beef, and even pet food.

At the Grace Lutheran Church/Carroll County Food Sunday Pop-Up Food Pantry we served as many as 200 families a week and a total of 1,665 household food distributions were made during the 10 weeks from April 23 to June 27.

For 10 weeks from April 23 to June 27, more than 50 people volunteered some 882 hours at a pop-up food pantry at Grace Lutheran Church in Westminster. At the food distribution on June 13, some of the volunteers stopped for a picture. Left to right: Ann Gilbert, Matthew Fairchild, Deborah Titus, Sandy Hoff, Pastor Martha Clementson, sign, Pastor Kevin Clementson, Steph Albright, Caroline Babylon, Kevin Dayhoff, Bob Lord, and Jim Korn.
For 10 weeks from April 23 to June 27, more than 50 people volunteered some 882 hours at a pop-up food pantry at Grace Lutheran Church in Westminster. At the food distribution on June 13, some of the volunteers stopped for a picture. Left to right: Ann Gilbert, Matthew Fairchild, Deborah Titus, Sandy Hoff, Pastor Martha Clementson, sign, Pastor Kevin Clementson, Steph Albright, Caroline Babylon, Kevin Dayhoff, Bob Lord, and Jim Korn. (Submitted photo)

We distributed some 45,430 pounds of food. According to the Baltimore Metropolitan Council that equates to 37,851 meals distributed in those 10 weeks.

In the lyrics of a popular country song sung by Thomas Rhett, “In a place that needs a change make a difference. … In a world full of hate, be the light.”

Because of you, together, we have improved our community and the lives of many. We gave people hope and were the “light and the difference” to many. On behalf of so many people in our community whose lives each of you touched, thank you.

We had over 21 local businesses, families, and civic organizations making weekly donations, plus many one-time generous donations. Over 50 people volunteered weekly, totaling over 882 hours. Volunteers included the following people: Martha Clementson, Kevin Clementson, Adam Westervert, Lindsey Westervert, Barb Croft, Steve Bowersox, Abby Sneska, Carey Sneska, Steph Albright, Kevin Dayhoff, Caroline Babylon, Bob Lord, Deborah Titus, Mathew Fairchild, Lisa Fairchild, Sandy Hoff, Haley Hoff, Haden Hoff, Rosemary Dew, Amy Bittner, Christine Baummer, Ruth Lee, Ben Flowers, Sandra Loats, Sarah Blanton, Emma Blanton, Arthur Riley, Matt Annulis, Nancy Newsome, Cliff Newsome, Jim Kunz, Maggie Kunz, Lenette Brooks, David McDaniel, Max Bair, Jeremy Bair; Nancy Bradfield, Bill Rehkopf, Andrew Rehkopf, Carol Rehkopf, Chandra Reiff, Jacki Reiff, and Henry Reiff, in addition to Derek Kansen, Cidi King, Leanna Moore, Andrew Thomas, Becki Maurio, Robin Armstrong, Melissa Helfer, Jim Korn, Nita Korn, Ronnie Wentz, Leanne Elliott, John Steinle, and Maddy Helfer.

We now turn things back over to Carroll County Food Sunday. The grand reopening at 10 Distillery Drive took place on June 30 and Food Sunday will now be open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to 12 noon. Saturday food distribution will begin in a few weeks.

We thank everyone who helped meet the community food needs during the worst of the pandemic this spring.

Ann Gilbert is a member of the Westminster Common Council. Reach her at agilbert@westgov.com.

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