Crofton/Odenton: Baby pantry preps 500 pairs of socks for delivery

Fifteen volunteers of the Crofton Christian Caring Council’s Baby Pantry sorted over 500 pairs of children’s socks March 26 donated by the community.

The CCCC Baby Pantry opened in November 2008 and serves Crofton, Gambrills, Crownsville, Odenton, Millersville and Davidsonville residents by providing children’s items from newborn to age five.

Last year, husband and wife team Art and Vicki McQuade took over as co-chairs of the pantry. Married over 35 years, Vicki has been volunteering with the Baby Pantry for over two years and Art has helped the CCCC since 1984.

In mid-October through Dec. 31 of last year, the pantry had a sock drive.

“I thought socks were something affordable and [the sock drive] would reduce our need the following year,” Art said. “Socks are in high demand.”

The McQuades used social media and announcements at the nine churches involved in the CCCC to advertise for socks. The goal was collecting 250 pairs of children’s socks.

The next day when the Baby Pantry was opened, volunteers found an Amazon box with 150 pairs of children’s socks donated anonymously. The following day a Target bag of with 60 pairs of socks was left at the door.

By Jan. 10, the Baby Pantry had collected 557 pairs of children’s socks.

“The majority of socks came in anonymously,” Art said.

Last Monday, the Baby Pantry volunteers gathered at Ledo’s in Crofton to sort and label the 557 pairs of socks.

Mother and daughter team Ann and Tracy Messenger were there to assist the sock sorting and volunteer regularly in the pantry.

“I had a child at 18 right after high school,” Tracy said. “Diapers were expensive and Women’s Infants and Children (WIC) helps young mothers tremendously on assistance, but there was nothing for me. My mother [Ann] was a pantry volunteer and I thought it would be nice to give back because I’ve thankfully been able to go to college and became a nurse seven years ago.

“Having my kids young, I feel it was important to give back.”

Socks may seem insignificant to an adult, but being able to pick out your own socks is huge for a child.

“We let the child pick the socks out,” Art said. “Spiderman is very popular. Kids love it. Last summer, a 3-year-old child ripped off his shoes and socks and put on his new pair on and left without his shoes or old socks. We had to chase the mother down. It’s a big thrill.”

Art credits the volunteers and community for making the pantry successful.

“We’ve had no volunteer turnovers in four months. It’s a congenial group of women who only want to do good,” Art said. “Jim Harvey of the Crofton Rotary Club and publisher of “Living in the Triangle” magazine has been a big help.”

The Bowie Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints also makes multiple monthly donations.

“The most rewarding part is we basically work out of closet that’s less than 100 square feet and just to see what we’re able to do and help people with that small of an area,” Art said. “From last April to December, we distributed 23,000 diapers and 720 packets of baby wipes. For such a small area, we’re able to do a lot.”

Many people are unaware that WIC and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) do not provide for diapers as they are considered ‘hygiene’ items. A newborn needs approximately 10 diaper changes a day and a toddler eight. Low income parents struggle to pay the $100-$120 a month necessary to provide their children with diapers.

Most child care facilities also require parents to supply an adequate amount of diapers for their child for each day.

The Baby Pantry is always in need of supplies.

“We can use Similac Advanced formula with the blue label, diapers sized four, five and six, baby wash and baby lotion,” Vickie said. “We also can’t keep sippy cups in stock. They go like wild fire.”

Vegetable and fruit pouches are also in demand. A current problem clients have expressed is needing laundry detergent.

If items are out of stock, Art and Vickie go to Target and the Dollar Store to make sure the Baby Pantry is full by Monday morning.

“We treat clients as best we can, as selfless as we can,” Art said. “We’ve met a lot of great people and I feel like in a few hours we make a difference.”

The CCCC Baby Pantry is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Residents are allowed one visit per month. On the first visit, clients must provide proof of county residency and a birth certificate, insurance card and social security number for each child.

The Baby Pantry at Community United Methodist Church, 1690 Riedel Road in Crofton. Donations made be made to the above address and labeled “CUMC BP.”

“Every dollar goes a long way,” Art said.

Melissa Driscoll Krol can be reached at aroundcrofton@gmail.com and on Facebook at Around Crofton.

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