Mitzvah Meals Volunteers Give Back with Federation

This summer, the Jewish Federation of Howard County launched Mitzvah Meals, a new initiative to help those in our community who do not have enough to eat. Once a month, volunteers drop off ready-made lunches at a Federation site, which are then delivered by the Federation to Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center, a homeless shelter in Columbia.

“We’re very appreciative of what the community is doing,” says Dorothy Howard, the center’s Kitchen Manager. “This helps families, children, and single men in the community who are homeless.”

Although Grassroots has been used to having a routine number of volunteers, since coronavirus hit the community, the center has had to reach out to solicit meals.

“The generosity is just amazing,” Dorothy says, “Everyone has pitched in to help.”

That includes Federation Mitzvah Meals volunteers Alisha Rovner, Meri Gelb, Ann Poltilove, and Darla Strouse.

“Unfortunately, during this very difficult time, there are far too many in our community in need of daily meals,” says Darla. “I feel blessed that I am able to help and contribute to this very important program.”

Alisha makes her donated lunches together with her children, Aaron, 11, and Abbey, 9.  

“I’ve used it as an opportunity to talk to them about the fact that although the past five months have been difficult for them…our family is very lucky that we’ve had a sense of security that not all families have had during this crisis,” Alisha says.

So far this summer, thirty-one households have donated 365 bagged lunches to Mitzvah Meals. Already 122 lunches are promised for the September date.

“The generosity of our community is inspiring,” says Shauna Leavey, Federation’s Program Director.  “Our volunteers possess a palpable enthusiasm for this project, and we’re grateful for their partnership on this important initiative. The Federation is committed to helping make the greater Howard County community safe and secure for all of its residents, and we fully support Grassroots and its mission.”

“It’s wonderful that during a time when all of us can’t be physically together, the Federation has been able to come up with safe ways that we can continue to support our community,” adds Alisha.

Here what our volunteers have to say: 


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