More than 100 Baltimore families headed by single mothers received Thanksgiving baskets and turkeys Sunday afternoon, the gift of a nonprofit that provides support for households led by women.
“The heaviest items go in the bottom,” Taylor Howard, an organizer of the event, told volunteers. They had gone to the TouchPoint community resource center in Mondawmin Mall to stuff traditional holiday groceries into oversized shopping bags to be delivered with frozen turkeys to homes across the city.
Stuffing mix, instant mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, cans of corn and string beans, cans of yams and cranberry sauce, cake mix, boxes of cookies, the makings of pumpkin pie and mounds of marshmallows (for sweet potato casserole) were stacked on tables across the room, then lined up on a counter and packed into bags.
The 90 volunteers and 20 delivery drivers essentially handled Thanksgiving shopping for 115 Baltimore mothers.
That fits the mission of Building Our Nation’s Daughters, or BOND, established in 2015 to support women raising girls on their own in Baltimore. And there are many. Researchers estimate that more than 60 percent of city households are headed by a single parent, in most cases women.
BOND founder Ateira Griffin, a community liaison with Baltimore City Councilman Zeke Cohen, grew up with a single mother. Griffin credits Alisa Williams with providing her with a strong foundation for the life of social activism and leadership she has now.
Before taking the job with Cohen, Griffin, 30, served as dean of students at the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, the girls public charter school in Mount Vernon. In that job, she says, she heard several teenage girls say they had trouble getting close to their mothers: They worked, they were single parents, they had little time to talk.
So Griffin’s organization has two missions: to provide general support and mentoring for families, and to enhance communication between mothers and daughters in their teen years.
“I saw the stress my mother went through,” Griffin says. “But my mother was strong, and she had a strong support system. She had my grandma, but also my teachers at school. They helped us. They told my mom about leadership opportunities, and sponsorships to send us away to summer camp, things like that.”
Griffin wanted to help single women give their children similar opportunities.
“So we have BOND to make sure single moms are well equipped to support their daughters,” Griffin says. “We offer family mentoring and have meetings and events.” Last winter, the group held a clothing drive. In September, BOND held an all-day symposium on women’s empowerment for mothers and daughters.
As she spoke, more volunteers, including members of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, arrived to help with the bag-stuffing.
Sunday’s was the organization’s third Thanksgiving groceries-and-turkey drive. The dinner fixings go to single-mother households with annual incomes below $50,000. The qualifying households had from two to more than five people, and the bags were filled commensurate with family size.
In one year, BOND more than doubled the number of Thanksgiving dinners it was able to provide, with donations of food and cash. Donors included the Fund for Educational Excellence, Teach for America, Baltimore Corps and Thread. Walmart provided the turkeys.