MFB’s Backbone: Innovative Donors Keep Us Moving | Maryland Food Bank
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MFB’s Backbone: Innovative Donors Keep Us Moving

The Maryland Food Bank is made up of many moving pieces coming together to create a well-oiled food distribution machine. While this work is conducted by committed staff, a diligent board of directors, and hard-working community partners statewide, none of it would be possible without the support from dedicated donors who believe in our mission.

This year in particular, our donors have stepped up to feed Marylanders in a huge way. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to purchase and distribute food at unprecedented levels, but generous donations from across the state has allowed us to continue serving the increased need during this time.

This outpouring of love and support has manifested from people of all ages and walks of life. Below are just a few examples of supporters who have found innovative ways to donate to MFB during this tumultuous year:

Contactless Giving through NextDoor

Since being assigned a graduation project to serve at a soup kitchen in high school, Pete Hypolite has been inspired to give back to communities in need. Now a mature adult, he’s made it his mission to help others whenever he can.

“My wife and I consider ourselves very fortunate,” said Pete. “We live in comfort and safety and I consider the few problems that we do encounter to be trivial compared to what other people are going through. So, we’ve always looked for ways to give back, especially locally, because then you can see the results of your donations, labor, and help.”

This year, however, COVID-19 presented obstacles to Pete’s typical ways of contributing to his community through giving and volunteering. But the pandemic could not stop the Severna Park resident from giving back to those in need, so he thought of a contactless way to generate food donations through the NextDoor application.

Nextdoor food donation post

“I was looking for ways to still make an impact without the danger of exposing myself to COVID or exposing other people to it, so I thought of NextDoor,” Pete said. NextDoor helps simplify the process of recommending local services and advertising neighborhood events to bring communities together.

“I use it all the time and thought it was a great way of letting people in my community know I would start up a quick collection, and whatever was donated between 8 AM and 12 PM, I’d bring to the Maryland Food Bank,” he explained.

Pete saw responses to his post almost immediately, with many people going above and beyond the ask to raid their pantries and purposefully going out to grocery stores to purchase items to add to his food collection.

“When I came back at noon, the bins for the packaged goods were completely full. Actually, people had to leave bags next to it. And I could barely lift the bin I had for canned goods into the truck.”

In just under 4 hours, Pete and his community managed to collect 175 pounds of food – enough to provide roughly 145 meals!

“It really felt good to be able to do something so impactful, and it wasn’t difficult to do,” Pete said. “It’s something anybody could do. I think people were looking for ways to give back during the holidays and they rose to the occasion. Anyone could easily be in a harsh situation and they’d be looking for someone to reach out a hand, so we were very glad to do it, and we’ll do it again.”

A Virtually Communal Benefit

Every year, devoted educator and Baltimore Women’s Giving Circle member Judy Pittenger hosts lectures based on historical events. 2020 marks the second year in a row that she donated the proceeds from her event back to the community.

“I think it’s interesting for people to learn more about our historical origins while coming together as a group to reach out and find a way of giving thanks by giving to others,” Judy said. “I thought it would be a lovely community experience if we, as a group of learners, came together and gave to charity. I thought pretty quickly of the Maryland Food Bank this year with the hunger issue related to COVID and so many more people being under stress now because of lost jobs.”

Entry to Judy’s two-night lecture on the arrival of pilgrims on the Mayflower cost a minimum $25 donation to their charity of choice between the Maryland Food Bank and the Baltimore Hunger Project. Ultimately, 250 people participated in the event, raising more than $11,500 for the food bank!

“The majority of the students I teach are mature adults who have been blessed with a lot of comfort. Most of them have not been dramatically challenged by the pandemic, but we’re all aware of the need,” said the Baltimore native. “I don’t think people will ever forget that we did this together. There was a real sense of solidarity, community, and outreach.”

Used to interacting with her students face-to-face, this year was the first time Judy would need to replicate this connection over a screen, which she executed with ease.

“Somehow, doing this as part of a group that has been with me for many years magnifies this sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. We turned our attention outside our own selves as a group, and that was particularly satisfying.”

child in t-shirt fundraiser letter scan

Giving from a Young Age

There’s no doubt that our future is in good hands when there are kids like Jackson Argis who are already focused on helping others in their community.

Jackson is a 13-year-old eighth grader at Perry Hall Middle School. Despite having to attend school from home, he selflessly thought of others during the pandemic.

“One of the things Jackson decided he could do was combine his love of art with his desire to help,” said Elizabeth Milwee, Jackson’s mother. “He picked the Maryland Food Bank because he knows you guys are helping provide food to kids in his community.”

Thus, Jackson designed his own t-shirts to sell during the month of September, donating 100% of the profits back to the food bank.

At the conclusion of his fundraiser, Jackson’s t-shirt sales ended up raising $370 to help feed food-insecure children and families.

“We hope that we can help in some little way through our efforts,” Elizabeth said.

Calendars of Care

One of the earliest advancements in news surrounding COVID-19 was the impact it had on senior populations.

As a result, senior homes and living communities enforced some of the toughest restrictions to preserve the health of seniors. These restrictions have been socially damaging, especially during the holidays – a time where social interaction with family and friends is most precious.

At Brightwood Living, an independent senior living community in Lutherville, senior residents engaged in a creative activity that managed to lift people’s spirits while simultaneously raising money for the Maryland Food Bank: they posed for and created their very own movie-themed 2021 calendar!

These golden-aged residents reenacted the posters of iconic films including “The Graduate,” “Annie Get Your Gun,” “Titanic,” and many more. While embodying individuals and characters such as Marilyn Monroe and the Godfather, these generous residents produced a professional calendar and are selling them for $15. Calendars can be purchased by contacting Brightwood Living directly.

These accounts merely scratch the surface of the innovative donations we’ve received throughout the year. Residents at Brightwood Living, Jackson, Judy, Pete, and all of our donors are not just helping feed Marylanders in need; they are also helping restore hope and faith in the lives of so many who may have otherwise gone hungry during these challenging times.

We Need Your Help

Programs, campaigns, and educational outreach at the Maryland Food Bank has always relied on the philanthropic support of charitable individuals like you.

Much like our food distribution efforts, outreach activities at the Maryland Food Bank rely on generous donations of money and time.

We hope you’ll consider a contribution.

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