Each new school year brings a fresh start – new teachers, new classmates and new school supplies. This year’s beginning brings the added fresh start of moving past many of the pandemic constraints that we have experienced over the last couple of years.
In addition to all the positive aspects of this, I heard from parents in the weeks leading up to the school start, about needing to purchase school supplies and having to prepare for school lunches. The federal grant to provide free lunches to all school children ended recently, at the end of the summer. For the first time in over two years, families will need to complete the application and meet the income criteria to receive free or reduced price school meals.
These additional back-to-school expenses are especially difficult for some families. One of our recent clients at SPAN left a lasting impression with me as he reiterated how thankful he was for the food and how hard it was for him emotionally since he was not used to being in a position of needing to ask for help. I am reminded of another client recently who was particularly thankful for shampoo. She said she had been adding water to hers to make it last longer. Toiletries are often specifically requested items and are always wonderful things to donate; they are not covered by food stamps.
These client interactions stay with me as do the regular reminders of how generous and caring this community is. I am always impressed and feel blessed that when we communicate a need, we see a wonderful response from the community. I love how members of this community are quick to step up to make sure the needs are met. As we start this new school year, our current wish list includes snacks (cookies, crackers, bars and nuts), peanut butter and jelly, and packaged fruit.
I am reminded how we are moving past this pandemic in the many little parts of our routines that have resumed and that we all took for granted before March 2020. I am also reminded of how we are moving on when I look at SPAN’s data for the year that just ended. The need we see for emergency financial assistance has increased dramatically in recent months. When COVID first hit, government assistance increased and the number of families needing emergency financial assistance dropped considerably. Reflected in the end of the pandemic phase is the increased need for financial assistance.
The average monthly amount of emergency financial help SPAN provided increased almost 250% between the first and second half of Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22). The average number of families we have assisted with financial aid has likewise doubled in the second half of FY22.
With this increased need, it is great to have our largest fundraiser, the 10th SPAN Turkey Trot, back for the first time since 2019. It is coming up on Saturday, November 5, and will be held at Kinder Farm Park. Registration is now set up; you can go to www.active.com and type in “SPAN.” Thank you to all who are sponsoring and donating prizes for the event – we have had wonderful responses for both!
SPAN (Serving People Across Neighborhoods) is an independent nonprofit food pantry and emergency services provider that has been helping local families with eviction prevention, utility turnoffs, medical/prescription bills, and food since 1990. SPAN serves 14 zip codes in Anne Arundel County. SPAN is located behind Our Shepherd Lutheran Church at 400 Benfield Road in Severna Park. Hours are Monday through Thursday from 10:00am-1:30pm. For more information, call 410-647-0889, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.spanhelps.org. Financial donations may be made through the website. Food donations may be dropped off 24/7 using the storage bin behind SPAN’s building. Please “like” SPAN on Facebook!
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