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United Way finds donors for year-round food giving


As part of a United Way project to feed needy county residents during times when they're most forgotten, Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. workers collected 2,700 pounds of food in July.

For two weeks, 178 employees at BG&E;'s Fort Smallwood Road complex gathered canned and non-perishable goods and collected $500 worth of spare change to buy food to give to the Anne Arundel Food Bank in Deale.

A BG&E; volunteer team led the United Way drive, an effort to keep the pantries of churches and other non-profit groups that help feed the needy stocked year-round, said Carole B. Baker, manager of regional services for United Way of Central Maryland.

The United Way Community Partnership, a volunteer board of the United Way of Anne Arundel County, started the year-long food drive in January. Each month, a different business volunteers to gather food for the hungry.

"The idea was to try to get food into the food bank year-round, not just during the holidays, to create year-round relationships between business and non-profits and find non-monetary ways of helping people," Ms. Baker said. "Summer historically is a hard time. You get to the off months and people are still hungry."

Businesses that have volunteered include ITT Research, Inc., the Anne Arundel County Board of Education, Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund, ARINC Inc., Westinghouse Electronic Systems Group, Nationwide Insurance, and LORAL Western Development Labs, said Marnie Hagburg, chairman of the Community Problem Solving Committee of the United Way Partnership of Anne Arundel County.

UNC, Inc. has volunteered to sponsor the December drive, but United Way officials are still looking for sponsors for September, October and November, Ms. Hagburg said.

Before BG&E;'s donation, the food bank's stockpile for the summer was nearly depleted, said Bruce Michalec, food bank director. "I'm barely making it from month to month," he said Friday. "What these people give me goes right out, and I'm bare."

Last year, the bank donated more than 700,000 pounds of food to more than 30,000 countians, most of whom were single women with children.

BG&E; organizers limited their drive to two weeks rather than four because, "we wanted it to be a high energy thing," said JoAnn Hirsch, one of the BG&E; volunteers who organized the drive. "We didn't want to beat people over the head with it for a month."

The volunteers ran daily raffles and left brown paper bags on cars in the company parking lot as reminders to workers to bring in food, she said.

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