Loch Raven food pantry is healthy addition to school

Families in need of food are invited to pick up food at the food pantry at Loch Raven Technical Academy, at 8101 LaSalle Road on Saturday, Dec. 17, between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. This program is sponsored by the school and the Maryland Food Bank.

The program is new at the school and came to fruition over the past nine months after a series of meetings between 5th District County Council member David Marks, Maryland Food Bank representative Nancy Smith and Stacey Johnson, the school's principal.

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"When the program was explained to me, I loved it right away," said Johnson said. "I had been looking for a way to reach it to the community in a more effective way, and to have our students see what it means to reach out to those in need."

The school expects to have the pantry one morning each month.

Their program is different from most; since they don't have room to store the food, a delivery will be made by the Maryland Food Bank before each distribution date.

More than 20 middle-school youth from the Loch Raven area were among 3,000 youngsters and youth leaders who attended the "Alive 2011: Ignite" youth conference in Ocean City the weekend before Thanksgiving.

The event, sponsored by Youth for Christ, draws youth from across Maryland and adjoining states to help develop their faith.

Loch Raven Campus Life Club leader Sara Gorman accompanied local youth who attend Loch Raven Academy and are members of the Campus Life Club.

The Alive program included speakers, entertainers and musicians, as well as activities that stretched from arrival on Friday evening until the departure on Sunday around noon.

Entertainers included recording artist Leeland, a five-piece worship band from Texas; Schwinny, a professional mountain bike stunt rider; and "The Horn Guy," Dave Enns.

National youth speaker, "Runks," presented a stand-up comedy routine, speaking about issues teens deal with and theological values.

Classes also touched on themes of faith and leadership, including "Be the Change," "Friend for Life," "For Girls Only," "Prayer Power" and "What Do I Do Now?"

In down time, the exhibit hall was open with an art room, bookstore, cafe, Wii sports activities, dance, games, karaoke, hair makeovers and face painting.. Dodge ball, a scavenger hunt and the Encounter Room — a prayer and worship area — filled idle moments.

Participants found the weekend inspirational.

"Hands down, the best weekend of my life," said Melody MacInnis, a member of Loch Raven Campus Life. "This is the first time that I have ever felt truly loved, and have been able to open up so easily. The music was amazing."

Bob Arnold, executive director for Youth for Christ said, "Many of the problems that were formerly high school problems are now prominent in every middle school across the country.

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The goal of the conference, he said, was to, "provide tools for these students to deal with the issues that they face daily."

Contact me by Sunday to read your Loch Raven news here.

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