WE DRIVE BY it dozens of times, hardly giving the nondescript warehouse on Route 31 a passing thought. Yet, what goes on inside the cavernous space is nothing short of miraculous.
The Brethren Service Center's 72,000-square-foot warehouse is a staging area for shipping life's necessities overseas to disaster areas, hospitals, clinics and orphanages. Thousands of items -- blankets, quilts, clothing and medical supplies -- come to the warehouse from churches around the country. From New Windsor, the goods are shipped all over the world.
On the day I visited the warehouse, volunteers from Union Bridge Church of the Brethren were sorting packages of surgical supplies donated by a pharmaceutical company. From boxes of syringes, cloths, surgical gloves, eye patches, sponges, plastic cups, paper gowns and other medical equipment, the volunteers scanned individual items for expiration dates, re-sorted them and readied them for shipment.
The volunteers -- Stan Holcombe, Wayne and Betty Adams, and Jack and Joan Derr -- come to the warehouse every week to advance the mission of Interchurch Medical Assistance Inc., a New Windsor-based nonprofit organization that provides pharmaceutical and medical supplies to people in need.
The IMA also coordinates cash and pharmaceutical donations and makes sure gifts get to the neediest destinations. A typical IMA Medicine Box, filled with basic supplies that can treat parasites, ear infections and other common medical problems, goes to a clinic in a refugee camp, disaster site such as Turkey or impoverished urban area.
Churches from all over the country send over-the-counter medicines, as well as monetary gifts, which are coupled with prescription drugs donated by pharmaceutical companies or purchased by IMA at a discount. The donations equip hundreds of medicine boxes, often customized to suit specific medical needs.
Says Don Padgett, a pharmacist who directs the IMA volunteer effort, "Putting the boxes together gives people a sense of a hands-on mission. And the feedback we get from the mission field -- that we make a difference -- stimulates more giving. It's the best job in the world, to help people with a humanitarian existence. And that's what life is about."
Goal for cheerleaders
Courtney LeQuire, Kathy Crawford, Melissa Myers, Chelsea Poole, Jessica Anderson, Nicole Georgoff and Kerri Melvin have a goal: to cheer at halftime ceremonies at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla., on Jan. 1.
The girls, students from Northwest Middle School and Mother Seton School in Emmitsburg, are varsity cheerleaders for the Francis Scott Key Junior Eagles football team.
Recently, they were selected to participate in the Citrus Bowl by cheerleading coaches from Americheer, part of the National Cheerleading Association. The coaches taught the girls cheers, stunts and songs in a cheerleading camp this summer and noticed the girls' outstanding ability and enthusiasm. The Taneytown girls will join hundreds of other young teen-age cheerleaders at the half-time event.
Now that they've qualified, the girls are scrambling to raise the cash they need to get them to the Bowl. They need to raise $849 each to cover airfare, game tickets, meals, hotel rooms, a keepsake video and costume, and tickets to Universal Studios and Disney World. They're willing to work hard for the money, so if you have leaves to rake, gardens to weed or kids to baby-sit, consider the cheerleaders for the job.
You can also make a tax-deductible contribution (make your check payable to FSK Jr. Eagles Football League) and send it to Box 90, Taneytown 21787.
Information: Michelle LeQuire, 410-751-1255 or Wanda Melvin at 410-876-9957.
It's not too soon to mark your calendars for an afternoon of gospel music.
The Lions Clubs of Western Carroll are sponsoring a gospel concert for the benefit of the Lions Vision Research Foundation on Oct. 31 at Westminster High School.
There will be two concerts, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Featured artists will be Ed Enoch and Golden Covenant, the Florida Boys, the Nicholas Sisters and Servant's Heart.
Advance tickets are $5 and $10; tickets cost a dollar more at the door. Tickets are available at Bullock's Airport Inn, Trinity Books and Gifts and Kramer's Piano Shop, or by mail from Wayne Adams, 4234 Bark Hill Road, Union Bridge 21791. Make checks payable to LVRF Benefit.
Information: 410-775-2625 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Judy Reilly's Northwest neighborhood column appears each Thursday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.