Once a month on a Wednesday morning, a midsize truck from Lutheran Mission Society in Baltimore pulls into the parking lot of a Brooklyn Park church, its bed loaded with donated food and household items to be sorted and distributed to the needy.
Medium-size boxes of canned peas and corn, and items such as dish detergent and sponges are loaded onto dollies and rolled into the fellowship hall of Resurrection Lutheran Church in the 600 block of Hammonds Lane.
Inside, a group of men and women, mostly retirees volunteering their time, stand waiting around a long table. It is a ritual they engage in on the first Wednesday of every month. From 9 a.m. until the job is done, they separate the spoiled and damaged items from the good ones. Rusty, outdated and badly dented canned goods are tossed, along with leaking containers of household cleaning fluids.
On a good day with about 12 helpers, the volunteers can finish by noon. On Wednesday, they sorted about 5,000 pounds of goods, all of it from grocery stores that wish to remain anonymous.
David L. Mather, 55, has been a society volunteer for several years, but didn't get involved with the sorting program until last year.
"I volunteer because it fulfills my duty as a Christian without making a big splash," said Mr. Mather, 55, an engraver who lives in Linthicum.
The project is sponsored by Lutheran Mission Society, a nonprofit religious, charitable and educational ministry in Baltimore.
Before day's end, the trucks deliver the sorted goods to the society's "compassion" centers in Annapolis, Cambridge, Essex, Fells Point, Havre de Grace and Baltimore. At the centers, the society offers food, clothing, counseling, shelter, furniture and prayer.
"Our sole purpose for being there is to help people and spread the message of Jesus Christ," said Eileen P. Alms, director of community ministry for the society.
Carl C. Dederer Jr., director of volunteers for the society, said more than 300 people visit the centers each day.