Long before the children and grandchildren of our food pantry clients started back to school, the Ladies of Charity Calvert County were hard at work on providing them with backpacks and supplies for the new school year. Project co-chairs Rochelle Gay and Phyllis Morgan reached out via email, “Flocknote,” and St. Anthony of Padua’s (North Beach) parish bulletin for donations of such items as pens and pencils, dry erase markers, lined filler paper, pocket folders, composition books, and highlighters. Phyllis used her artistic talent to craft a cardboard “school bus” that we placed in the church foyer as a collection box for donations.
Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of one parishioner in particular, we had more than 150 brand-new backpacks to distribute, plus an abundance of the supplies needed to fill them. Several LOC members volunteered in late July to stuff the backpacks with grade-appropriate school supplies, and Phyllis and Rochelle distributed them at each food pantry opening until mid-August.
With the onset of the COVID pandemic in March of 2020, we had moved our food distribution operation to the pantry parking lot so that our clients could stay in their cars and receive their groceries with a minimum amount of exposure. Our backpack distribution worked the same way. Using an electronic database developed and refined by volunteers, we were able to identify clients with school-age children in their households and ask if they needed school supplies. When the ticket listing clients’ food choices printed out, it also showed the number and ages of the children in their homes so that Rochelle and Phyllis could select age-appropriate backpacks and deliver them to the clients in their cars. By the time school started in late August, they had given away 102 backpacks, with plenty left on hand for next year’s distribution.
Submitted by: Peggy McKelly
Calvert County Ladies of Charity