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Roaring Run Lions’ food drives in Westminster are usually a success, but this year it became huge

The Roaring Run Lions Club held a food drive this winter, and through their partnership with Weis Markets, raised the biggest donation on record — more than $6,400 dollars worth of food and hundreds in monetary donations — for the Owl Pantry at Westminster High School.

On Sunday, a number of Lions Club members showed up in trucks and SUVs to transport the food from Weis to the Owl Pantry.

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“The community just really stepped up, and so did Weis,” said Ginger Turnbull, the Roaring Run Lions Club member who organized the drive.

She said the grocery store’s manager, Andrew Raimondo, and assistant manger, Mike Finneran, had strategies to encourage customers to donate, like a pre-selected bag of food that customers could purchase for $10 and starting competitions between cashiers to see who could collect the most donations.

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In addition to the food donation, the drive also raised nearly $700 in monetary donations — mostly through individual $1 donations at the register.

When Turnbull got a call from Raimondo telling her how successful the drive had been, she cried, she said.

“All I could think about was that people are going to have food to eat," she said. In a past period of her life, she was working multiple jobs in order to keep her vehicle and a roof over her head, not knowing where she was going to get her next meal.

“It’s a passion thing for me to make sure people have food. It’s a scary thing not to have it, so when I hear the generosity that people were stepping up — it truly touches me that people care,” she said. Helping others was the reason she joined the Lions Club, she said. “It honors me to be a part of this community knowing what they did for others in need.”

Natasha Costley, who coordinates the Westminster High School Owl Pantry confirmed that this is their biggest donation to date.

“They’ve been very generous over the last two years I’ve been the coordinator,” she said of the Lions. “We are extremely thankful for them.”

Usually, they receive a monthly delivery from the nonprofit Maryland Food Bank and supplement with donations from charitable organizations and the school community. Twice a year, near the holidays, they also donate holiday meals that include a frozen turkey. On average, they serve 40-50 families per week, she said. The pantry is open Thursdays from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

One of the most in-demand items right now are boxed cereals, Costley said, alongside canned items like tuna and boxed meals like Hamburger Helper. The pantry is equipped with a freezer and cold storage, so they can accept donations of meat. For weekend bags that go to provide meals for students over the weekend, they are looking for beverages like bottled water or juice and items that children could prepare like packages of oatmeal and peanut butter crackers.

Some of the food from the pantry also goes on to families who are part of the Together We Own It program, which provides support and mentoring for children in Carroll and Wicomico counties.

Donations can be made to the Owl Pantry by calling the school at 410-751-3630.

To contribute to future drives through the Roaring Run lions, contact Turnbull at 301-653-5839 or find them online through Facebook or e-clubhouse.org/sites/roaringrun. Their next service project is a volunteer day at the Finksburg branch of Carroll County public Library Jan. 26 where they will put together supply donations, blankets and cards. All are welcome to attend and volunteer.

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