This past spring, the St John the Baptist Knights of Columbus partnered with the pantry to hold the 2021 St John the Jogger Virtual 5K/1 Mile Run/Walk with all proceeds supporting the pantry. It was by all accounts a huge success. For nine days in early May, participants were invited to run, jog, walk, skip, dance, or mosey their desired distance. The event organizers were delighted that 336 individuals of varying ages and abilities signed up to participate, getting out there in both sun and rain. The now-familiar yellow race shirts can still be seen sometimes at the food pantry and even in nearby neighborhoods. The effort was blessed with generous sponsorships from pantry volunteer Jessica Keigley, Adelphi Friends Meeting, Saval Foods, The Ed Mahoney Foundation, and Dominic’s Italian Grille. Final calculations show over $14,000 was raised for the pantry! Thank you, everyone.
Summer Edition - June 2021
The Many Benefits of Volunteering
My awesome chiropractor has an informative message screen in her waiting room that rotates through a series of various slides. The one about volunteering always catches my eye, and as I read I nod in agreement with the benefits touted. Here is a sampling of the perks of volunteering:
One of the more well-known benefits of volunteering is the impact on the community, but volunteering is a two-way street: It can benefit you and your family as much as the cause you choose to help. Dedicating your time as a volunteer helps you in so many ways.
Make new friends and contacts
One of the best ways to make new friends and strengthen existing relationships is to commit to a shared activity together. Volunteering is also a great way to meet new people.
Increase your social and relationship skills
While some people are naturally outgoing, others are shy and have a hard time meeting new people. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to practice and develop your social skills, since you are meeting regularly with a group of people with common interests.
Volunteering provides many benefits to both mental and physical health
Volunteering helps counteract the effects of stress, anger, and anxiety. The social contact aspect of helping and working with others can have a profound effect on your overall psychological well-being. Nothing relieves stress better than a meaningful connection to another person.
Volunteering combats depression. Volunteering keeps you in regular contact with others and helps you develop a solid support system, which in turn protects you against depression.
Volunteering makes you happy. By measuring hormones and brain activity, researchers have discovered that being helpful to others delivers immense pleasure. Human beings are hard-wired to give to others. The more we give, the happier we feel.
Volunteering increases self-confidence. You are doing good for others and the community, which provides a natural sense of accomplishment.
Volunteering helps you stay physically healthy. Studies have found that those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate than those who do not.
Volunteering is a fun and easy way to explore your interests and passions. Doing volunteer work you find meaningful and interesting can be a relaxing, energizing escape from your day-to-day routine of work, school, or family commitments. Volunteering also provides you with renewed creativity, motivation, and vision that can carry over into your personal and professional life.
In March, super-longtime pantry volunteer and leadership team member Kris Leary took off her pantry hat, packed up the house, and, along with her husband John, moved north where they put on their full-time grandparent hats. Over years Kris has played many roles at the pantry: bagging food, registering clients to receive food, writing grants, paying food suppliers, making all sorts of hard decisions, and, more recently, laying the groundwork on spending the big infrastructure grant we got last August. She has been a wonderful teammate and a friend to us all. We probably wouldn't be willing to let her leave for anything less worthy than her grandchildren. God bless you, Kris!
See You Later
The pantry is looking for help unloading, sorting, and storing food deliveries. This work is done on Thursdays, generally mid-day from 11:30-1:30. Please contact Patty Kolar at if you are interested in joining the team!
Do You Remember...
Most longtime pantry volunteers likely all remember the big clock that hung in the friary basement back room that was formerly known as the “new pantry” before becoming the “old pantry.” The big, old, quirky Bulova clock was in the backdrop of many pantry memories and a few pictures, like that one of Mike --->
We all knew it as the clock that would run eerily backwards after a power outage. The Bulova name was at the top of the face of the clock, but “Fleishers Jewelers” and their original Mt. Rainier address was displayed more prominently. Fleisher’s was a big client of Bulova, and, being the businessman that he was, store founder William Fleisher was eager to get his company name out in the public eye. So sometime likely in the 1950s (definitely between 1949-1962 when the store was still located in Mt. Rainier), he ordered an unspecified number of these clocks from Bulova and then, according to his son Fred, gave them away to whichever local businesses wanted and would display them. Fred remembers a dress shop and many other stores across the street that had the clocks hanging on their walls. We have no way of knowing how one of those clocks found its way down to the friary basement, but previous writings about the store mentions the Archdiocese of Washington as one of their clients.
So last year one of our pantry volunteers took the clock down to Fleisher’s new location on Route 1 in Hyattsville’s Art District to see if they would be interested in having it back, and they were! For quite a while I’ve wanted to drop into the shop to ask about the clock’s history, so I settled on a day and stopped in, talking with second-generation store manager Fred Fleisher and his managing partner Luis Pena. Luis told me about the return of the clock and how he opened it up and cleaned its parts. Two (quite possibly original) light bulbs were still in the back. When working bulbs are in place, it illuminates the face of the clock, but because there is no power switch for the lights, they have to remain on all the time. As we know, it doesn't have to be lit up to display the time just fine, so the store does not keep bulbs inside. Ever since its return and polishing up, our old pantry clock has been hanging on the wall, a reminder of the business’s early days. And it’s kept perfect time; the wacky thing was as soon as he turned around to point it out on the wall, he realized that it had stopped working. He unplugged it then plugged it in again to no avail. So while we were visiting, he and Fred took it down off the wall, so he could check it out. In a few minutes time, he got it working again, but while trying various power outlets, the quirky, old clock, in true form, gave us a few seconds of running backwards.
Continuing to Serve
Looking Forward, Looking Back
As the chart shows, the numbers of clients served are starting to come down. Covid restrictions are lifting, businesses are beginning to reopen to previous capacities, employees are going back to work. In addition, the seasonal work is picking up; our clients are resuming jobs with landscaping and construction companies, which always brings down our springtime numbers. So the need for food assistance is not as great as it was this time last year. However, it is obvious that our numbers are still much higher than they were two years ago at this time. The effects of the Covid shutdown are still tangible.
We are incredibly grateful to all who have rallied to support the pantry in so many ways these past 15 months. There have been food drives, book drives, collections for winter weather gear. Our partner parishes and nearby churches have delivered food, diapers, and incredible monetary support. Volunteers have come from far and wide to help staff our ever-adapting operation. We have never had a shortage of masks, gloves, or hand sanitizer. For this we are truly thankful, and we look forward to continuing these partnerships as we move forward.
Thank you for helping us help others!