Spring Drive for Schools to help Towson area, other children in need

Perhaps you saw Laurie Taylor-Mitchell on the cover of the March 14 edition of the Towson Times. The feature on our local champion of helping students in need offered a great back story on how she came into her calling. I’d like to expand on that note by telling you about an important drive Taylor-Mitchell has coming up next month, in conjunction with the Loch Raven Network.

The Towson community has proved to rally like no other, particularly when it comes to looking out for children. In fact, a recent winter clothing drive — to gather warm coats for students in need — resulted in an outpouring of support that served not only the two schools intended, but spilled over to serve 10 Baltimore County schools. One thing I’ve learned is that so many charitable organizations see an uptick in donations around the holidays, only to see supplies dwindle as the year progresses. While Taylor-Mitchell’s inspiring story is still fresh in your mind, let’s tackle another project of kindness!

Taylor-Mitchell and Loch Raven Network will be holding a Spring Drive for Schools on Friday, April 20, from noon to 5 p.m., and Saturday, April 21, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Donations can be dropped off at the Fellowship Hall of St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church, located at 1108 Providence Road in Towson. Volunteers will be collecting and sorting donations for distribution at Padonia International Elementary, Pot Spring Elementary, Essex Elementary, McCormick Elementary, Campfield Early Learning Center, Fullerton Elementary, Cockeysville Middle, Pine Grove Middle, Parkville High, Chesapeake High, Dulaney High, and Loch Raven High, as well as Empower4life (a terrific nonprofit that runs programs for schoolchildren living in homeless shelters). Many school counselors have created discrete pantry space so they can give students in need access to some of the daily staples we take for granted.

Some of the most wanted products for the drive are nonperishables such as cereal bars, granola and protein bars (no nuts), crackers, tuna, fruit in flip-top cans, whole-grain Pop Tarts/Rice Krispies Treats, and the like. Now more than midway through the school year, it can be helpful to replenish essential learning supplies such as notebooks, binders, loose-leaf paper, pencils, pencil sharpeners, erasers, highlighters, folders, dividers, gently used books for children ages 5-11, reusable tote bags, reusable water bottles, new/gently used gym bags, and even backpacks. Toiletries are definitely a welcome contribution, too, including deodorant, shampoo, soap, lotion, sunscreen, body wash, lip balm, feminine hygiene supplies (especially sanitary pads), acne wash, nail care kits, even diapers and pull-ups.

Household supplies such as paper towels, toilet paper, laundry detergent, disinfectant wipes, and tissues are always good to have in store. Additionally, new sheets and pillows, and clean towels and blankets are super helpful for shelters. New underwear, socks (all sizes — for students K-12), bras, and new or gently used shoes are also sincerely appreciated. To help or to volunteer, contact ParkvilleHighPantry@gmail.com.

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