Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and many of us are looking for ways we can give back to our Southern Maryland community. The season reminds us that not everyone has a full table during the holidays. Have you considered donating to one of Southern Maryland’s food pantries?
You can donate as an individual, but you can magnify your donation if you organize a food drive. This is an easy fundraiser that doesn’t require a lot of time or special skills, and it is a great way to get kids of all ages involved. Whether you run the drive as a family or as part of a school, church, club, or other group, a food drive is a great way to give back during the holidays – or any time of year. Here’s how.
First, round up your volunteers. You shouldn’t need more than two or three people to help you organize a food drive. Divvy up the roles, and you’ll find the workload won’t be too great.
Second, identify the organization you’d like to support. There are many food pantries in Southern Maryland, some large and some small (see resources below). Many churches have food banks and collection boxes already. No matter which group you decide to support, contact the organization first to find out what their specific needs are. For example, organizations that serve families may have a special need for baby food, while those that work with senior citizens may need low-sodium food. Your donation will have the most impact if you’re donating items that the organization actually wants and needs.
Third, plan how you will run your drive. Will you collect on one day, or will you accept donations over several days or weeks? Can people donate cash? Where will people drop off their donations? Who will collect and deliver them? You can also connect your drive to an event like a holiday party or game.
Fourth, promote, promote, promote. A food drive is only successful if people know about it. Pass out flyers, and share your food drive on social media. If you’re running the drive through a club or church, ask if you can announce your drive at meetings and services. You can also post your food drive on local calendars like Southern Maryland Online or The BayNet.
Fifth, make the donation. Set up a time with the organization or food pantry you’re supporting for drop off. Who knows – maybe you’ll want to get more involved now that you know what the organization is all about!
Sixth, don’t stop when the holidays end. Everyone wants to give back during the holidays, but food pantries see families in need throughout the year. Now that you’ve led one successful food drive, perhaps you’ll want to do another at a different time of year.
Southern Maryland Food Pantries
There are too many food banks in Southern Maryland to list here. The websites of these larger organizations will help you find a food pantry closer to home.
Southern Maryland Food Bank
This large organization is run by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington. It is a bulk food supplier, which means it collects food to distribute to food banks throughout the three Southern Maryland counties.
End Hunger in Calvert County
Founded in 2008, End Hunger in Calvert County maintains a warehouse in Prince Frederick from which it distributes food to many food pantries in Calvert County. The organization also offers job training services and works to end the root causes of hunger in the county.
Find End Hunger in Calvert County’s list of food pantries here: http://www.endhungercalvert.org/partners-food-pantry/
Lifestyles of Maryland Foundation, Inc.
Lifestyle’s Samaritan Project is a food and clothing program available to those in need.
Find Lifestyles of Maryland’s list of food pantries here: http://www.lifestylesofmd.org/samaritan-project-
Maryland Food Bank
You can also use the searchable list at the Maryland Food Bank website to find local food pantries. Find the list here: https://www.mdfoodbank.org/need-food/.
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