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In an unexpected but nonetheless happy turn of events, the Southern Maryland Food Bank was able to open its doors for distribution to area food pantries on Monday.

“In a three-day time frame, we received 14,000 pounds of food from all the drives in the community,” food bank Director Brenda DiCarlo said. “That was enough for us to open up our doors, and we fully expect to be open for the next week as well.”

DiCarlo cited the food bank’s unexpected windfall of donations to the generosity of the members of the surrounding community.

“I thought there was no way we’d be able to open this week, but happily I turned out to be wrong there,” DiCarlo said. “I’m always pleasantly surprised by the outpouring of support we get from the community when we fall into a time of need. That’s one of the great things about Southern Maryland.”

Charles County government released a plea for donations for the food bank on Facebook and other channels, and the public and local media outlets online and in print also gave the issue attention.

DiCarlo said that on average, the food bank distributes around 15,000 pounds of food every Monday to tri-county food pantries and other organizations. The amount of donations received was “certainly enough” to prepare them for this week’s round of donations, and more are slated to come in.

The food bank also received 8,000 pounds of food from the Maryland Food Bank, which served to further alleviate the need for donations, at least temporarily.

Although DiCarlo said that the food bank is on solid ground for the next few weeks, she will be concerned once more come April 1 if it seems donations are starting to slip once more.

“We’ve been blessed for now, and I hope that continues, but there’s no way to tell,” DiCarlo said. “People don’t know we need help if it’s not made public knowledge, and I know I need to work on letting people know ahead of time, rather than when it gets to be too bad.”

A variety of local organizations have held food drives to help alleviate the food bank’s need.

Bud Humbert of the Waldorf Lions Club said he heard of the bank’s need for donations while dropping his children off at school on Wednesday.

“When my wife and I went to the Lions Club meeting that night, I brought it up and almost immediately we got something going,” Humbert said. “An email went out later that night, and the donations started rolling in. We made a big donation Thursday, a huge one on Friday, and then again [Monday] morning after a full weekend of collection.”

All in all, Humbert said, the Lions Club has donated around 3,000 pounds of food to the food bank, and their drive is not stopping just yet.

“Today especially ... even with a reasonable job ... people just don’t have enough money,” Humbert said. “Seniors especially often have to choose between food and medication and they need that medication, and so they cut back on food. The food bank supplements them. Even though this is one of the wealthiest counties in the country, there’s still a huge need for support. We will continue support until there is no longer a need there.”

lrenner@somdnews.com

How to help

Food donations from citizens are accepted to help relieve the shortage. Donations can be dropped off at:

-Southern Maryland Food Bank, 8395 Old Leonardtown Road, Hughesville. Call 301-274-0695.

-Southern Maryland Association of Realtors, 8440 Old Leonardtown Road, Hughesville. Call 301-870-2323.

-Long & Foster, 3165 Crain Highway, Waldorf. Call 301-932-5148.

-Weight Watchers, 3082 Waldorf Market Place, Waldorf.

-Davis Realty, 109 La Grnge Ave., La Plata. Call 301- 934-8882.