There are plenty of stories where a single negative incident can give a bad rap to an entire group of people, whole communities, schools, etc. And, for every one of those negatives, there are plenty of amazingly positive people and outreach efforts that, in my opinion, effectively reinstate the good in humankind.

One such group of those who have that type of effect is Jennifer Whiddon's Long Reach High School Leadership Class. Whiddon is a government and government mastery teacher at Long Reach that teaches a social studies elective that allows students to earn service hours as they research, plan and execute service projects. Her class recently coordinated a school-wide food drive with a set goal to collect 12 carts full of food on behalf of the Elkridge Food Pantry, a local resource that provides for the less fortunate or those who have recently come upon difficult economic times because of job loss, illness, or the loss of their home or loved ones.


"I feel that taking part in this project has been a good experience and it makes me feel good that people would take the time to help out someone else who needed it," Leadership student and project chairwoman Abigail Caspar said. Senior Anthony Baldelli added, "I feel that this project was a good way to give back to the community … a way to get people to work together to reach a common goal."

To market the project, students crafted posters, created commercials that were shown on the morning announcement program, and came up with other creative ways to publicize the drive. They also tracked the donations in order to award prizes to the class and the student organization that donated the most food.

The leadership students and their teacher delivered the donations in person to the Elkridge Food Pantry on March 27, appropriately enough in a bright yellow school bus. Tracy Crowder, the parent of a former Long Reach student was the bus driver (and an instrumental part of the loading and unloading process). The bus was gratiously provided courtesy of Bowen Bus Service.

Upon the students arrival at the food pantry with their busload of goodies, Lori Gerus, volunteer and garden coordinator at the pantry, provided the group with some background about the organization, its philosophy, and how the pantry operates. After unloading, the students spent the morning sorting the goods and organizing the food pantry so everything would be ready the next time the EFP opened its doors.

"The students very much enjoyed the visit to the Food Pantry and have already asked if we can go back to help out again. They especially liked the idea of helping out in the organic garden," Whiddon said.

Project chairwoman Caspar summed up the project: "In achieving this goal, we feel as a school that we have accomplished something big. We are very proud of everyone who participated in this event."

Congratulations to these fine young men and women of Long Reach High School.

Speaking of feeding those in need, this coming weekend is the annual Scouting for Food drive. Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Venturing Crews and Girl Scouts are working together to help feed the hungry in the Howard County. On Saturday, April 21, these young ladies and men will be going door-to-door to collect donations of non-perishable food and then delivering it to more than 30 food pantries in the county. Last year, this initiative collected more than 87,000 pounds of food and the goal is to do even more on behalf of our local hungry families.

Be on the lookout for a tan plastic bag from Mars grocery which will be dropped off at your home a few days before collection day. Fill it with unexpired, non-perishable food and leave it at your door or by the mailbox and the scouts will pick up your donations on April 21.

For more information, please email scoutingforfoodNPD@verizon.net or call chairperson Sori Meredith at 410-303-4890. The scouts would like to thank you in advance for your generosity.

Here's something reminiscent of a bygone era: The Spring Tea at Grace! Don your most colorful spring hat and gloves and join the ladies for Tea at Grace on Sunday, April 22 at 2 p.m. at Grace Episcopal Church, 6725 Montgomery Road.

"A Victorian Spring Garden" has been chosen for this year's theme, and this charming event will feature a delectable lunch buffet. Allow them to pamper you with tea, scones and teacakes elegantly served at each table. Tickets are $20, and a prize will be given for the best hat.

For more information, call Darlene Ciepiela at 410-796-3270.

Kindness counts. And, on that note, here's a very special opportunity you don't want to miss! Finding Kind, an award-winning film, and the film's creators, Lauren Parsekian and Molly Thompson, will be presented at Elkridge Landing Middle School on Wednesday, April 25 at 7 p.m. The film deals with the effects of meanness in the "girl world."


It also introduces the "Kind Campaign," an internationally recognized movement based upon the powerful belief in KINDness that brings awareness and healing to the negative and lasting effects of girl-against-girl "crimes." The event is free and recommended for ages 11 and older (parents are also invited and encouraged to attend).

Filmmaking partners Parsekian and Thompson met as college students at Pepperdine University. Both of these young ladies have their own heart-wrenching story that adversely affected them during middle and high school. Parsekian had even developed an eating disorder and had attempted suicide in middle school as a result of bullying from her group of so-called friends that suddenly turned on her and ostracized her from what they collectively referred to as "their group."

As college students, these young women felt a call to help change the tide of the growing concern of bullying. Their own personal suffering led them on a cross-country road trip with their moms to document on film the cruelty of female bullying.

In their 10,000-mile journey, the women met and talked with more than 30,000 girls, visiting more than 60 cities and set-up "Truth Booths" capturing tearful and poignant memories and confessions from girls across the nation. After a presentation by Parkesian and Thompson to the seventh- and eighth-grade girls at Houston's Kinkaid School, Robin Doran, a school counselor encouraged them to take this message out to the masses to help alleviate some real world issues for pre-teens and teens alike.

The Finding Kind movement and message is catching on. Parsekian has appeared on "The Dr. Phil Show" and the campaign has appeared in the New York Times, Variety and online at http://www.huffingtonpost.com.

After the Elkridge Landing screening, Parsekian and Thompson will host a forum about girl world and the views girls have of themselves and others. "Finding Kind" presentation is sponsored by the Elkridge Landing PTSA, Young Life, ELMS WyldLife, area churches and businesses, and local families.


"I think it is really important to have this conversation," event coordinator Cindy Barr said. "The students and community have been so responsive to this, and I am excited to meet Lauren and Molly and for our local girls to experience this film and to have the chance to talk with these young filmmakers on such a crucial topic." Cindy can be contacted at findingkind@elkridgewl.org.

For additional information, go to http://www.findingkind.com or http://www.kindcampaign.com. Don't miss the chance to see this dynamic film event at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 25th at Elkridge Landing Middle School!

Keep the Patapsco Heritage Greenway 13th annual Garlic Mustard Challenge on your calendar for May 6, 1-4:30 p.m., in the Orange Grove Area of Patapsco State Park. This event primarily centers on a garlic mustard-pulling contest, but the PHG has made a regular celebration out of this yearly battle with the invasive garlic mustard, and the event will feature a chef contest, old-fashioned games, music by Elkridge's own Sam "the Muleman" Miller, a watershed scavenger hunt, environmental exhibits and more.

If you'd like to get involved, volunteers are needed for all areas, including set up, registration, cleanup, games, cooking and poster contests, refreshments, scavenger hunt, cleanup, etc. If you are interested, please email Betsy McMillion at patapscofriend@gmail.com.

Bill Leishear, director of fundraising for the Elkridge Hurricanes Football and Cheer Organization, has hopes of "bringing down the house" at this season's benefit concert on May 12 from 4 p.m. to midnight at Daniels Restaurant, 5854 Washington Blvd. This concert event will headline Baltimore's premiere AC/DC cover band High Voltage and opening for High Voltage will be the Hurricanes' own I'm Just Sayin'.

Tickets are $20 per person and on sale now at http://www.showtimetix.com. All proceeds — including 10 percent of all food and beverages purchased on May 12 at Daniels — will go to the Elkridge Hurricanes to help offset the cost of uniforms, light rentals, field usage and other equipment. Tickets are limited, will not be sold at the door and will not be available after April 30.

This is family-friendly event and guaranteed to be fun for all, so get your tickets now, and make plans to come out and support the Elkridge Hurricanes. For additional information on the event, or corporate sponsorships, call Leishear at 410-336-1021 or email bleishear@printingimages.com.

Doug Emery, tournament director for the Karl Wolf Memorial Tournament held at Rockburn Park on April 8, would like to thank the volunteers for their time and dedication that made this event such a success.

"It takes dozens of volunteers to plan and staff this event and there are four key people that spent hours planning and working during this event that I am especially indebted to: Janice Harman, Tracy Simmons, Tiffany Wendt and Carol Flock. This event would not have happened without these parents," Emery said.

Emery would like to also extend sincere appreciation to the following volunteers that added to the success of the day: Ann Shilling, Patty Groft, Betsy Emery, Christine Mauser, Julie Bruner, Mary Aquino, Bee Graef, Darlene Fuller, Mark Simentelli, Kelly Robinette, Ken Pfeiefer, Jen Walsh, Chuck August, Natalie Glone, Lori Gerus, Eileen Kaplan, Melissa Ruggles, Robin Snyder, Julie Rund, Heather Demers, Patty Mills, Sandy Crothers, Diane Patton, Will Land, Rolf Wendt, Chad Ruggles, Frank Aquino, Tim Flock, George Wilkerson, Brian Groft, Brian Robinette, Ed Kaplan, Herb Savaj, Jeff Freidman, Lee Pfeifer, Donna Hart, Claire Striebich, Tom Singleton, John Mauser and Michael Duffy.

Emery also credits the past efforts and work of Gary Limon who ran this event for a number years and made it easy to step in and continue the success of the Karl Wolf Tournament. Emery is already planning for next year's event, so, if you'd like to help out in any way, please let him know at 410-796-6592 or by email at doug_emery100@yahoo.com.

If you've got anything to share with your friends and neighbors, I'd love to hear about it and pass it on. Until next time, please pay it forward and practice random acts of kindness. Thanks and have a stellar week!