Posted on : Sunday October 24, 2010

By Tim Durkin, Baptist Family & Children’s Services

COLUMBIA, Md.—For the fourth year running, Maryland/Delaware Baptists collaborated in a unique way with Baptist Family & Children’s Services to distribute school supplies to families in need.

This year we saw increased demand for supplies, with more families taking advantage of the distribution project. Overall, 1,152 children were served.

Along with its partner churches, Baptist Family used its proven “Good Samaritan Project” process to hand out supplies.

Nine churches scheduled events in August and publicized the availability of school supplies to their surrounding neighborhoods. Families were invited to come to their local church to browse for items for their children. They were asked (though not required) to bring a donation of $1 or one canned good.

Baptist Family has found that this nominal donation gives the families a sense of giving back, and preserves the dignity of those who might feel uncomfortable asking for help. The donations go directly to a local food pantry, building up resources for other families in need.

In its most recent long-term strategic plan, Baptist Family committed to serve the counties in Maryland and Delaware that are experiencing the highest levels of poverty.  The school supply distributions were planned to meet the poor where they live and to help bring them comfort and support.  Stores were set up in Baltimore City (poverty rate: 19 percent), Dorchester County (14 percent), Allegany County (15 percent) and Sussex County (Delaware, 12 percent).

A family leaves a Baltimore City supply distribution after receiving school supplies provided by Maryland/Delaware Baptists in a unique partnership with Baptist Family & Children’s Services.

In Baltimore, The Church on Warren Avenue in Federal Hill served 258 kids. Patterson Park Church served 191. Salem Gospel Ministries (a refugee outreach that meets at Patterson Park Church) served 50. The Pen Lucy Action Network (a coalition of churches and community resources in Baltimore’s Pen Lucy neighborhood) served 161. Ninty-five children living in Lower Waverly (near the site of Baptist Family’s supply warehouse) were also equipped.

Outside of Baltimore, LaVale Church saw 126 kids at their event. FBC Hurlock handed out supplies to 80 students. FBC Cambridge did the same for 71. Grace Church, Seaford, served 50.  In addition to these, a large number of children participating in Baptist Family’s Good Samaritan Network were supplied.

Baptist Family’s project manager for this year’s distributions was Cindy Yost. When asked about her goal for the event, she said, “My goal for this year was to get out to all of the churches. I wanted to talk to parents and take pictures of the families after they had collected all of their supplies. It was a humbling experience to hear parents tell me how grateful they were. Many of them had been laid off from their jobs and getting their kids outfitted by us was a huge help to them.”

One of the best things about this year’s effort, Yost said, “was the way that God’s people stepped up and gave at the last minute.”

In late July and early August, Baptist Family was projecting to supply 900 children. But several large, last-minute donations meant that we could beat that projection by 28 percent.

Baptist Family & Children’s Services, 7161 A Columbia Gateway Dr., Columbia, Maryland 21046, (410) 872-1050