Many thanks to the students and families
of St John the Baptist School for the food collection that was taken up as part of their annual Service Liturgy in October.
Each class was assigned a different food to collect. Eighth graders and their parents
went the extra mile by helping deliver
and shelve all of the food.
On December 2nd, Brian Crowe and his team from St Elizabeth Parish in Rockville delivered 154 bags of groceries to the pantry. After a full year of collecting food on the first Sunday of every month
and delivering it to the pantry the next day, their total is up to 1,912 bags of food.
Wow. Thank you!
This Thanksgiving 200 turkeys were
provided to our pantry clients thanks to
our partners at Holy Redeemer Kensington.
They also sent some canned food along with the wonderful turkey donation.
Thank you to David Bonfiglio who spearheads many of these efforts and continues to be committed to our pantry.
With the incredible support of our many partnering churches and schools - so many
we fail to recognize them all here - the pantries are able to continue serving the
many families who come to us for help.
Winter Edition - December 2019
A Bountiful Harvest
A BIG THANKS to the Beltsville Agricultural Research Ctr for inviting pantry volunteers to once again come “glean” in their fields. The squash in
the field we visited was grown solely
to study the insects that it attracts. Entomologists do research on these bugs that destroy so much of the
squash crops grown in the US.
So it was a free-for-all for the many insects (squash bugs among them),
then a free-for-all for us as we went behind and picked the many, beautiful, untouched gourds. Many hands made light work, and in an hour’s time we picked many lovely varieties of winter squash to share with our clients
and their families.
An additional thank you to our cheerful crew of gleaners.
A Surprise Windfall Donation
The pantry was blessed with a huge donation in early October that, in turn, allowed us to
be a blessing to others. WR Grace & Co
had a 28 foot box truck full of food and
serving supplies that they didn’t just give
to the food pantry, but they drove from Baltimore directly to the pantry! They also came with 16 workers to UNLOAD it for us. The flurry of activity was an amazing sight
to behold. About 20% of the food (fresh produce, bottled water, bottled juice,
pint-sized cartons of milk, cereal, etc) was
kept by the pantry and shared with our clients; the rest of the food and goods (plastic aprons, paper coffee cups, napkins, commercial bulk sizes of pasta, sauce, cheese, bacon, salad fixings, coffee creamers, etc) we were able to share with the parish offices and neighboring elementary schools.
A day of blessings to be sure!
Pantry volunteer, Carole, helping sort and direct
Pantry leader, Bernie, taking care of business
Behind the Scenes - Sinia Aldana
St Camillus parishioner Sinia Aldana has always loved being able to help others.
Several years back, an announcement was made at the end of Mass asking for
once-a-month volunteers to help in the pantry. “I heard about it, and I emailed Jean,
and that was the beginning.”
On the second Monday of each month, Sinia and some of her family go to the pantry to shelve all of the food that was donated at Masses the weekend before. This work can take 10 minutes or upwards of an hour,
depending on how much food is collected.
Sinia Aldana, left, and her family
When asked how long she’s been volunteering at the pantry, she answered, “I think it has been a little over four years, but I really can’t remember when I started. I just know that this is part of my life now, and I love doing it.” Well, time really must fly when you’re having fun,
because it’s actually been seven years this winter!
Sinia, who works full time at Suburban Hospital, says of her pantry work, “I like the feeling
of knowing that even the small things that we do in life can help others. I like that my kids
get to help and know that we are doing a small act of kindness.”
If you are interested in helping with the Monday shelving, please contact us at - we have a spot available on the rotation!
Why I Volunteer
by Sheila Harron
My husband, Bill, and I were aware of the food pantry as soon as we started coming to Mass at St. Camillus. It's often mentioned in the bulletin, and people fill the boxes in the front of the church with items for the pantry. What got me to volunteer was my retirement from full time work at Saint Luke Institute five years ago and participating in an "Engaging Spirituality" Just Faith group where Joyce Romanus, one of the leaders of the Pantry, was also a participant.
I volunteer one Friday afternoon a month from 2:30 to 5:00. From 2:30 to 3:00 we help bag produce and/or baked goods and get ready for the shift. From 3:00-5:00 we refill small bins with the food items for individual client's bags and distribute the contents of the bin into the client's bags. I like doing both. The first job is a little more physical. The second job involves one-to-one contact with the (mostly) women who come to get food. There are usually 4 of us doing these particular tasks. At the end we make sure that the storage rooms are swept and in order and that the bins are filled for the next day's pantry shift.
I enjoy the volunteer work immensely because there is a wonderful group of men and women who volunteer. The ones I have met are from St. Camillus, the Adelphi Friends Meeting, and St. Elizabeth's Church. We talk while we are working and when things are slow. We also meet some impressive young students who sometimes come as part of their service hours.
I like the one-to-one contact with the clients. It is not easy to come to seek food at a pantry. The atmosphere reflects St. Vincent's admonition to his followers, "Don't make the poor forgive you for the bread you give them." You can see the gratitude and feel good about the respectful way those who use the pantry are treated.
The other reason I enjoy it so much is that it is brilliantly organized. Both Joyce Romanus
and Bernie Relf do a fabulous job of running the pantry which is much more complicated
than what I described as my small part of it. Everything about it is well run--having volunteers sign up monthly, getting food from various places, storing the food carefully, efficiently managing the actual giving out of the food, registering, having Spanish speakers interacting and providing books for the children who accompany their parents, and I don't know what else!
It is an impressive operation and probably reflects years of tweaking and improving.
My other volunteer activity is teaching English to a woman from Afghanistan for an hour once a week. I love working with people so closely.
For over 30 years the Gannon family and their many friends have organized a massive food drive to help feed the hungry
in the DC area. Now known as the Greg Gannon Canned Food Drive, the effort is only getting bigger. Friends, neighbors, students, and parents in neighborhoods, schools and parishes collect canned and boxed, non-perishable items and then distribute them for delivery to many charitable organizations who then distribute them directly to the families who need the help. It unfolds in a beautifully orchestrated, highly-energetic, smile-filled way. The St Camillus Food Pantry has been
very fortunate to be among those on the receiving end
of these efforts for several years.
In early December, volunteers from the food pantry went to
Holy Redeemer School in Kensington (one of the GGCFD partners) to pick up our generous portion of this year’s collection. More volunteers were waiting on the other end to help unload the THREE cars, all jam-packed with bags of food. It took two hours and many arms to stock the pantry shelves, but just two words sum up our gratitude: THANK YOU!
Pantry volunteer, Jean, with
Patti Garayta, Greg Gannon’s sister
For more information on the Greg Gannon Canned Food Drive, please visit: https://www.ggcfd.org/about/
Jorge Garayta (in photo at left), a nephew of Greg Gannon and the person responsible for the drive at Holy Redeemer-Kensington, leading discussion after the Prayer Service that kicks off the Big Day
Chickens for Christmas
For several years, Randy and Lisa Holtz from St John the Baptist Catholic Church have recruited the help of their family and friends to raise funds to help our food pantry clients. Each year at Easter and Christmas, the funds are used to buy whole chickens, which are a wonderful bonus to the food our clients receive. In December, their crew was at it again, coming early the Friday before Christmas to deliver 400 chickens! Not only did they deliver, but they helped get the cases of chickens downstairs and into our freezers - not an easy job. We so appreciate their continued support!
Continuing to Serve
How You Can Help
You may also want to consider helping the pantry financially. All donations directly support the Pantry. We are an all-volunteer ministry.
We have three easy ways to give:
1) Write a check made payable to the
St. Camillus Food Pantry and
send it to the church address or drop in the collection at Mass.
2) Send your donation (check or money order) to our mailbox at:
St. Camillus Church Food Pantry
1600 St. Camillus Drive
Silver Spring, MD 20903
(Feel free to email us to let us know a donation has been sent by mail.)
3) Donate online to our
Go Fund Me Campaign at:
The pantry is always looking for more volunteers. If you have family or friends eager to join our ministry, we are currently looking for:
--Volunteers to help unload and shelve food deliveries on Thursday afternoons
--Bilingual (Spanish/English) volunteers who are comfortable using a computer
to help register families to receive food during our operating hours on
Friday afternoons and/or
--A volunteer to maintain our website and create our seasonal online newsletters
--A person, couple or family to cover
once-a-month Monday shelving
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
if you are interested in helping!