(Nov. 21, 2014) Walking into their monthly meeting on Monday at the Ocean Pines Recreation Center, members of the Worcester County Democratic Women’s Club were astonished to see tables overflowing with blankets, basketballs, stuffed animals, robots, board games and Disney storybooks.
Although members expected donations for their two signature holiday drives on Sunday and Monday, they did not anticipate just how much support they would receive.
Judy Baumgartner, who chaired the drive, said she only noticed a few things on the table when she first arrived at the Recreation Center’s Assateague Room on Monday.
“I was a little concerned because there are 40 women,” she said. “Then it just seemed like I turned around and got come coffee, and ‘oh my gosh, what happened?’ It’s kind of like the loaves and fish with Jesus. It was amazing.”
Barbara Schmid, who co-chaired the drive, was particularly amazed at the variety of donations.
“We were just told to bring toys for kids whose mothers were in jail – that’s all we were told,” she said. “If you look at all of those toys, it goes the whole spectrum. It’s boy’s toys, girl’s toys, teenager’s toys, baby’s toys. It was the weirdest thing that no one coordinated this thing, and yet there’s something for everyone.”
The blankets will be delivered to Meals on Wheels over the holiday as part of the Blankets: Gifts for the Homebound program, and toys are given to the children of 40 women currently serving time at the Worcester County Jail in Snow Hill under the Santa’s Sack initiative.
“The gifts are for the children or the kids in their lives,” said Terri Humphrey, a club officer. “We bring them gifts and wrapping paper and wrapping materials and they can select for their sons and daughters or nieces and nephews or granddaughters and grandsons.”
The club will deliver will deliver the toys on Dec. 3 along with a small gift bag for the women, usually filled with beauty care items like lip balm, shampoo and deodorant. The jail determines which women receive donations.
The club started the program in 2004. President Judy Butler said the club usually receives between 125 and 150 toy donations.
“We do this for those forgotten children who can’t get a present,” she said. “Some of these women are not there because they committed a crime. Many are undocumented immigrants, and that’s one of the hardest things that we see there.”
Butler said the facility keeps unused toys in a “birthday closet,” allowing children of women serving time in the jail to receive birthday gifts throughout the year.
The Blankets program, new this year, helps Worcester County residents served by Meals on Wheels.
“There are 40-plus people in the Meals on Wheels program that are homebound, and we got 43 blankets, which is just enough,” Butler said. “This group of women are very generous and they have always been.”
Baumgartner said the blankets, mostly 50 by 70 inches, are delivered by Meals on Wheels in December.
“Folks that are getting their meals can also get a brand new warm, comfy blanket,” she said.
Sandy Miller collected blankets at the South Side Fire Station in Ocean Pines on Sunday, along with more than 30 bags of food and $180 in donations.
“It’s impressive,” she said. “We do this food drive every third Sunday, so we got a huge amount of food, and we just asked everybody if they could bring a blanket or a toy – that was extra.”
Debbie Ritter, volunteer coordinator with the Worcester County Commission on Aging, helped coordinate the Meals on Wheels drive.
“It was wonderful,” she said. “We have so many needy people in Worcester County and it’s wonderful to be able to give them – not only a warm meal – now we can add a little Christmas present to it as well.”
The club will continue to accept blankets and toys for its holiday drives through the end of the week. It’s next food drive is Sunday, Dec. 21 at the Southside Fire Station from 1-3 p.m. Donations benefit the N.O.E.L. Christmas dinner hosted by St. Paul’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Ocean City. For more information call 410-208-1551 or visit www.dccwc.org.
To donate to Meals on Wheels call 410-632-1277 or visit www.worcoa.org.