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The Shepherd’s Staff getting set for holiday events

Emily Ecker, head chef at Rock Salt Grille, adds a marinade to turkeys as she prepares them for The Shepherd's Staff Thanksgiving dinner, on Tuesday. The Shepherd's Staff will be hosting its 26th annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner on Thursday from 12 noon to 2:30 p.m. at the Portico, 43 Monroe St., Westminster.
Emily Ecker, head chef at Rock Salt Grille, adds a marinade to turkeys as she prepares them for The Shepherd's Staff Thanksgiving dinner, on Tuesday. The Shepherd's Staff will be hosting its 26th annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner on Thursday from 12 noon to 2:30 p.m. at the Portico, 43 Monroe St., Westminster. (Brian Krista/Carroll County Times)

The Shepherd’s Staff isn’t letting the coronavirus pandemic wipe out its traditional holiday events for the end of 2020.

The Carroll-based nonprofit organization’s annual Thanksgiving Day Dinner is on the calendar for Nov. 26, albeit in a modified format as The Shepherd’s Staff officials want to follow health and safety guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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The annual Christmas stockings fund drive is also on the schedule, with people able to order a stocking to be filled with donated gifts before it is given to a local child in need.

“The object is to continue on with as much of this as we can, reaching the folks that need the boost,” said Brenda Meadows, executive director of The Shepherd’s Staff.

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The Shepherd’s Staff, located in Westminster with a new satellite office in New Windsor, is a Christian outreach and support center serving those in crisis in Carroll County since 1991. The center works with local churches, organizations, businesses, schools, and individuals that support the grassroots ministry with financial contributions, product/service donations, and hundreds of volunteer hours.

The Thanksgiving dinner has in recent years been a sit-down meal at the St. John Roman Catholic Church portico, Meadows said. This year, The Shepherd’s Staff is hosting a drive-thru dinner at the portico (43 Monroe Street, Westminster) from 12-2 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

A traditional holiday dinner will be served, Meadows said ― a pre-packaged hot meal, drink, and a dessert for each person, as well as the necessary cutlery, to be enjoyed at home.

Those who want to reserve a meal are asked to call The Shepherd’s Staff at 410-857-5944 no later than Nov. 20. Meadows said people need to provide a name and phone number, along with the number of individuals per household who are requesting meals.

Deliveries are set to be placed in the trunks of each person’s car during the 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. time frame, according to a news release from The Shepherd’s Staff.

“It is unfortunate that we cannot gather in person this year to celebrate the blessings of this holiday, but we are delighted that we can still offer a wonderful Thanksgiving meal, albeit ‘to-go,’ to any individual or family who needs one," Meadows said in the release. “We are so thankful to have the support of the community and everyone who is making this possible this year, including the extra effort to keep everyone safe and healthy.”

Brenda Meadows is the executive director of The Shepherd's Staff.
Brenda Meadows is the executive director of The Shepherd's Staff. (Phil Grout/for Carroll County Times)

The Shepherd’s Staff usually holds a “Spirit of the Season” event, Meadows said, to celebrate the beginning of the holiday season and start distributing stockings. That won’t be taking place this year because the event tends to draw a large crowd, she said, but The Shepherd’s Staff is still having its annual fundraiser.

Meadows said her organization is partnered with The Salvation Army to help distribute stockings once they’re filled with donated goods. Working together will help the process run smoothly and efficiently, Meadows said, for everyone involved.

Those who have signed up for the “Angel Tree” program will receive a stocking from The Shepherd’s Staff, Meadows said, and delivered by The Salvation Army.

The Shepherd’s Staff has a goal of 600 new stockings within the next two weeks, according to a recent post on its Facebook page. The Shepherd’s Staff had 39 filled stockings as of Nov. 3, according to the social media post, and is collecting stockings and donations now through Dec. 1.

Donations and stocking filler items are needed ― The Shepherd’s Staff is asking for new small items such as yo-yo’s, bubbles, gadgets, stuffed animals, and coloring books. Donations for teens include nail polish, books hair accessories, and personal care items.

Meadows said anyone interested in obtaining a filled stocking can call to make an appointment starting on Monday, Dec. 7.

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The Shepherd’s Staff has managed through a trying year, Meadows said. The organization closed its donated shed in early March after a tornado caused damage to the structure. A few weeks later, the pandemic started impacting its events.

Many of the local groups that help The Shepherd’s Staff each year were going through their own difficulties, and communication challenges arose. But Meadows said her staff has come together, with help from those organizations, to keep its programs alive and thriving as best as possible.

“It is a good feeling ... to know that the community is there,” Meadows said. “We’re hoping it will come together that way. Things have a way of coming together at Shepherd’s Staff.”

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