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Saunders: A special Thanksgiving message — just bringing some sunshine

In my October column, I asked you how you felt when you sang “This Little Light of Mine” and how you would let your light shine. Moreover, I asked you about your special gift or gifts that you can use to help to bring us together as a community. Bringing us together has been almost an impossible task in this trying election time, but it is thanksgiving time on the calendar.

Thanksgiving is the time when we are to give thanks for a plentiful harvest designed to sustain us, a time to give thanks for the blessings we have received, and, because we have been blessed, a time when we should therefore be a blessing to others not so fortunate. I am reminded of the words from Proverbs 11:25, from the Old Testament: “The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”

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These words bring me right to the door of Carroll County Food Sunday and its work to feed the food insecure of our county in Westminster, Eldersburg and Taneytown. These words also bring to mind the people who give so generously of their time, food and money to see that no one in our county ever needs to go hungry.

As the president of the Food Sunday Board, I would like to laud the work of the 70-plus dedicated volunteers who work with Dennis Fahey, the administrator of Carroll County Food Sunday, whose leadership and oversight for the last 18 years have been exceptional. These volunteers, under Dennis' leadership, help to support and “maintain a stable and efficient food delivery system,” according to Ed Leister, the executive director of Food Sunday. The three locations could not operate without these volunteers, a number of whom have devoted 15, 20, even 25 years to the program! On behalf of the volunteer board, some of whom also assist with the distribution of food, I wish to thank all those who volunteer their time and energy to feed their neighbors.

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In addition to these volunteers are those who supply some of the food that is distributed. While Food Sunday purchases much of its food from the Maryland Food Bank and several local businesses, many other individuals, businesses and organizations give us much needed non-perishable food, for which we are very grateful. While these individuals and groups are too numerous to list, on behalf of the Board I want to say a heartfelt thank-you for their kindness and generosity.

And of course we could not survive without the generosity of so many monetary donors. While some of these monetary donations come from grants for which Forest Howell, our grant-writer on the board applies, a few others have come to us from people graciously leaving us money through their wills, certainly a way to help Food Sunday invest for the future.

The majority of our donations, however, come from individuals and organizations and churches who see Food Sunday as a way to give back to the community and make the community a better place. While some can give thousands of dollars a year, many have given of their stimulus checks from the government this year. Many others give of their means, but all the gifts are equally valued, because any gift to CCFS brings sunshine and much needed help to those we serve. I am reminded of one young girl, a mere nine years old, who sent us $100, all her piggy-bank money. Her hand-made card had a colored sunflower with the words, “Just Bringing some Sunshine,” followed by the words: “here is my donation, just to help feed the people of Carroll county through these tough times!”

To all of you who have given of your time and gifts over the recent months to help Carroll County Food Sunday meet the needs of our neighbors, I say a much deserved and special thank-you.

I want to end this column by paying a special tribute to Ed Leister, executive director of Carroll County Food Sunday for the last 10 years. As many of you know, Ed will be retiring from this position at the end of December, although he will stay on through March of 2021 to provide for a smooth transition for the next executive director, whose name will soon be announced.

Ed Leister, of Carroll County Food Sunday, accepts a donation of $250 from Randy Bachtel.
Ed Leister, of Carroll County Food Sunday, accepts a donation of $250 from Randy Bachtel. (Submitted photo, Carroll County Times)

Leister certainly has been the sunshine that Food Sunday needed when he came on board 10 years ago! It is largely because of Leister that Food Sunday is so successful at meeting the needs of the food insecure. As a retired banker, he put in place a strong sound business structure that helped the organization weather some critical financial problems early on in his tenure. Food Sunday is financially stable largely because of his efforts of creating needed fund raisers, and of developing relationships with businesses, organizations and individuals that bring in the much needed funds and food.

Lisa Monthley, past president of the board, has commented that “Ed’s financial knowledge, his passion, drive and dedication have evolved Food Sunday into what it has become today.” She says that “he is a wonderful and caring human being who has lived and breathed Food Sunday, and that we are blessed to have him in our lives.”

Of his time at Food Sunday, Leister says: “It has truly been my passion to help provide supplemental food to our clients and enjoy the friendship of our volunteers and board members. I have been blessed!” His leadership, commitment and passion, for which we are eternally thankful, have been a blessing to Carroll County Food Sunday and the people we serve.

Thank you, Ed, for being the stalwart leader that we have needed for the last 10 years. You will be greatly missed!

Hermine Saunders writes from Westminster. Her Prime column appears once a month in Life & Times.

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