OCEAN PINES, Md. - A group of Ocean Pines Residents, who dubbed themselves the "Teal Bay Mitzvah Team" (after the Hebrew word for good deeds), is collecting food to help fight food insecurity.
They say Margit Novack, along with four other neighbors in the Teal Bay neighborhood of Ocean Pines, have the goal of supplying local children with healthy weekend snacks for 30 weeks.
This is not the first campaign for the Mitzvah team, as member Helen Johnson says that they collected more than 1,000 pairs of shoes for their "Soles for Souls" campaign in 2021, and later collected more than 2,000 pairs of socks for their "Joy of Sox" drive later that year. They say donated items were then distributed during the holiday season to assisted living facilities, long term care facilities, Diakonia, and Worcester County GOLD.
According to the Ocean Pines Association, the group has also held a pet food drive in the past where all three goals were met.
“We just want to give back to the community and those in need in some way. We feel that we’re all very fortunate, so we want to do what we can for others,” she said.
“We now are focusing on food insecurity, because we knew it was something that children in our community struggle with,” Johnson continued. “There is poverty in this area and you’re always hearing about the need.”
The Mitzvah Team's latest drive, shared on Facebook two months ago, asks for donations for the Berlin Head Start Program. Johnson said that Head Start supplies food during the week, but when the weekends come deliveries become less consistent.
“We thought it would be good to send them home with a little bag of food items, and we’re specifically collecting things suggested by a nutritionist with Head Start,” she said.
The Mitzvah team says that they would like to run the program for 30 weeks, with 30 snacks per student donated and distributed by the teachers for the children to take home. They say that they have been successful so far, delivering 240 bags over the first eight weeks.
“They [Head Start] were very excited. It’s a federal program, so we had to go through all the proper channels to do this,” Johnson said. “And we’re very happy that this has worked out, so far.”
Johnson says that people can order items directly from Amazon and have them shipped to Novack at 2 Riverside Court in Ocean Pines.
“People can go online and order a case of Ramen noodles, for example, for just $15 or $20 while having coffee in the morning. That goes a long way to help local kids,” Johnson said.
“Our donations have slowed a little, and we know this is a hard time of year because everywhere you look people are wanting donations. So, we’re doing what we can to get the word out,” she added.
Snacks approved by the Head Start nutritionist include:
- Single serve fruit cups and squeezers
- Single serve Cheerios cups
- Instant oatmeal packs
- Granola bars with no peanuts
- Ramen noodles
- Small raisin boxes
- Fruit roll-ups
- Whole grain crackers
- Small popcorn bags
- Bobos fruit filled mini muffins
- Small bags of pretzels
- Bel Vita biscuits
- Teddy Grahams
- Dried apple chips