Boxing Up Hope for the Holidays
Every year around this time, the Maryland Food Bank follows the same mantra: It’s not a holiday when you’re hungry.
While many proclaim that “it’s the most wonderful time of the year,” others look at it as an especially challenging period. The adversities Marylanders may face daily do not magically disappear during this time. Individuals who’ve recently lost their jobs, families on fixed incomes, and communities with limited access to fresh food are not only suffering economically; they are emotionally drained from the toll it takes to endure the holidays without celebration, gifts, and most importantly, satisfying meals.
This year, with COVID-19 in effect, more and more families are struggling to find joy in dire situations. Those who have physically and economically suffered as a result of the pandemic are finding it difficult to put holiday meals on the tables for their families, many for the first time ever.
A Holiday Unlike Any Other
To relieve the burden of hunger during this special time, we are working with our network of dedicated community organizations to distribute more than 25,000 holiday meal boxes, each containing traditional holiday fixings and paired with a turkey to feed a family of four.
“I’m here today to get a Thanksgiving meal,” shared Richard C., a man we met at Eastern Interfaith Church. “I had brain cancer two years ago, and I’m on disability. I get a very small check for my family of 6 to live off. We have four kids, ages 18, 15, 13, and our youngest, who is seven, has special needs. But this food will help us greatly. It keeps my family happy and our bellies full… If this wasn’t available, I don’t know what we’d do.”
It’s people like Richard who keep us motivated to restore hope in families through food. This year, we believe it’s especially crucial to continue this holiday tradition, as hundreds of thousands of Marylanders not only worry about how they will afford to prepare holiday meals, but how to gather and celebrate the holidays in a safe way.
“I had to keep faith that something good would happen,” said Reeta T., a woman waiting her turn to step up and receive a holiday box at 40 West Assistance and Referral Center. “Times are a little hard and I am trying to get out of debt. Prices are increasing tremendously in the stores and I take care of my elderly father, so I’m just trying to make sure that he has food for Thanksgiving and beyond. But I feel very blessed to know that even in these days and times, there are still people willing to help others.”
Facing Hunger in the Time of COVID-19
For many families, this will be the first year they’ve had to endure the holidays without the guarantee of a delicious and satisfying meal.
“This is my first time reaching out. I’m going through a rough time, and I needed some help—especially with Thanksgiving coming up,” said Carla J. at 40 West. “I had a part-time job at a store, but because of COVID, they had to shut things down. I want to thank you—there’s a lot of people out here who need help.”
With the pandemic upending the lives of so many who have lost their jobs, their homes, and sadly, their loved ones, now more than ever, we’re working hard to fill the gaps that many food-insecure Marylanders currently face. The holiday boxes may be temporary fixes, but the joy and hope they bring to families in need can last a lifetime.
“I would not have been able to afford Thanksgiving dinner this year, due to COVID-19, which made me lose my restaurant job,” shared Sophia W. outside of St. Edwards Church. “I am so thankful for St. Edward’s along with the Maryland Food Bank for providing my family with this Thanksgiving meal. This act of kindness and compassion is what is bringing us together as a family.”
The Spirit of the Holidays
This holiday season, it may be a little harder to be cheerful with all the economic, health, and personal concerns that many have dealt with this year. People are feeling immense pressure trying to make the holidays happy for their families. But thankfully, we are able to help relieve some of that pressure.
“I just went back to work doing security in August, and they started me out part-time. Things have gotten better, but my wife has got to be at home with the girls for virtual schooling, so sometimes it’s hard. Money’s tight right now, so this holiday meal really helps out a lot,” said Michael H. from Eastern Interfaith Church.
Marylanders need us now, more than ever. People are yearning for any semblance of normalcy they can latch on to this holiday season. Our holiday meal boxes help provide that – restoring hope for those who may have temporarily lost it.
We Need Your Help
Your support will go a long way this Holiday Season. Together, we can keep food flowing into communities of need. Help us ensure that vulnerable populations of children, seniors, and hard-working individuals won’t go hungry during this time of the year.