Community churches, organizations, individuals come together to put together East baskets for sober living homes in county

Hannah Himes, The Frederick News-Post, Md.
·4 min read

Mar. 27—Toothbrushes, soap, and Easter eggs were just some of the items packed into Easter baskets bound for 10 sober living homes across the county Saturday at Strong Tower Christian Church.

Paul Foss, president of Waterboyz for Jesus, pastor at Damascus Road Community Church and an organizer for the project, described it as a community effort done by a group of churches and individuals, connected by CarePortal, social media and word of mouth.

"This idea of meeting specific needs, done in an extravagant way, is our way of saying, 'We believe your journey to recovery is courageous, you're a valued man and woman to God, you matter to him, ... and we live in a kingdom of plenty,'" he said. "Frederick is a generous community. Over the last 16 years, we have discovered time and time again that when you put an ask, a need out to our community, they just respond."

CarePortal is an initiative of Crossed Bridges, a local nonprofit. Carol Switzer, co-founder of the organization, said that through the database they were able to list 10 sober living homes, number of people, if the house is for men or women and what they needed.

"CarePortal has grouped many churches, right now we have about 16 churches, that we find out the needs from the agencies in the area and then we send those directly out, real time into those churches and they respond," she said.

Examples of needs include toothbrushes, toothpaste and paper towels.

"It was just this past week, so within five days ... a major, major dent was made in those churches delivering the goods ... they dropped them off at Damascus Road or another place and then compiled them together," Switzer said.

Crossed Bridges has been around for just more than three years and helps run Frederick County Goes Purple for National Recovery Month.

"It's kind of a no-brainer, not only do we get the churches involved together but then also with the sober living, our organization with Crossed Bridges helps with getting training done for families and individuals in recovery," she said. "And so our organization is in that realm and so this was definitely something we wanted to come out and help with."

As for what those receiving the baskets take from them, Switzer said she hopes they feel the love of Christ "from people that they didn't even know."

"And show how important they are," she said. "The courage that it takes to be in recovery, to be in a home with others is really inspiring and to feel that we as a community surround you, whatever we can do to help but definitely those comforts and those things that we take for granted of just the basic necessities but then to get some fun, little things in the basket too."

Prior to the event Saturday, about 30 baskets had already been prepared. The goal is to create 150 baskets.

Irene Holley is chief of staff at Alliance Material Handling.

"It started with Paul reaching out via social media asking for assistance in putting together Easter baskets for people in sober living houses," she said. "I wanted to pitch in and help. I didn't want to just give donations. I wanted to actually put some together."

Holley started out by putting 28 baskets together and that expanded to doing more. And in addition to the baskets, donations will also be made to the sober living homes and there will be an Easter meal for each person as well as a bag with cleaning supplies, she said.

The CEO of the company is helping sponsor the project.

"We do a lot of things for our community," Holley said. "And so this kind of fell in line with helping people in the community, so he saw what I was doing and he said that he wanted to sponsor."

Robin Nicholson was a volunteer Saturday and is also a member of Damascus Road.

"I actually posted the CarePortal request and worked with Carol in doing that," she said. "It's a way of touching those that aren't always touched or remembered. It's a way of letting them know that they're loved and cared for and that there's a God out there that loves them more than anything and we just want to share."

Nicholson also said it's amazing to see all the hands that have come together for the effort.

"It's this community," she said. "The beauty of all of this is that it's a community and not just from one neighborhood. It's a ... large community, the community of Christ and it's just really wonderful to be a piece of that."

Follow Hannah Himes on Twitter: @hannah_himes