“Happy Helpers for the Homeless” was chosen as the Department of Pathology’s holiday project for the season of 2010. The Happy Helpers provide food, household goods, and gifts each year to people who usually have little to celebrate.
Thanks to the generosity of so many Pathology employees, dozens of bags and boxes of gently used clothes and food were collected. These items were delivered weekly to the Happy Helpers during the months of November and December. We delivered the donations on Friday evenings, and the items were distributed to the needy on the following Sunday.
- More than $500 cash (=150 lbs. of lunch meat)
- 59 – $5.00 McDonalds Gift Cards
- Clothes, Food, and New Toys
- 2 Car Loads, 2 Truck Loads, 1 Van Load
The coordinator of the Happy Helpers charity, Bobbie Coffman, called not long after we had started our drive to ask if we could also seek $5.00 McDonald gift cards. Many people in the Department responded generously.
One Thursday evening I made an appointment to drop off some of our collected items. When I arrived, Ms. Coffman was in the small garage sorting new items. The donations had been dropped off earlier in the day from various groups to be used as presents. There were seven other people helping. She went through each sack, bag or gift bag, sorting items by size, age, and sex. Different organizations were asked to donate different new gifts. One group gave very warm glove and hat sets. Other groups brought sweat suits, long underwear (tops and bottoms), children’s toys, backpacks, or blankets. When the sorting was finished, a 25-foot tabletop was piled high with gifts that were then gift wrapped and tagged. Over 250 gifts were wrapped that evening. This was only a small number compared to the gifts already wrapped and placed into piles for men, women and children.
During the garage sorting, the warmest gloves and hats were set aside to be delivered that evening before dark to “Tent City” located under the Jones Falls Expressway bridge. The temperature was expected to fall below 10 degrees that night. XX-Large-sized items were also placed in a special place so the volunteers could hand these items to those most in need. Much effort was made to assure the items were going to those in greatest need.
The gifts were distributed on Sunday, the 17th of December. In a parking lot under Interstate-83, the Happy Helpers set up the trucks and vans to distribute the gifts, food, and blankets. Volunteers manned different stations including Men’s Gifts, Women’s Gifts, Children’s Gifts, Food and Hot Chocolate.
The men’s gifts were passed out of a small moving truck. Each person was given a small ticket so the number of people could be counted and controlled. The vans and truck containing the presents were placed large distances from each other to keep from overcrowding. Each person was given a wrapped present and a blanket. Many of the people were very excited and also very thankful. Ms. Coffman works very hard to make sure that each and every person receives a new, wrapped present for Christmas.
Near the end of the “party,” Ms Coffman asked the people to form a line and we passed out the gift cards that the Pathology Department and another organization collected. Both children and adults were very happy to receive these. They were the “hit of the party!”
Thank you so much for your support in this project.
Department of Pathology