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Effort was ‘a Christmas miracle’


Staff writer

Two women, who hadn’t met until just recently, came together to give more than 150 Calvert County kids in need toys, clothes and other items this Christmas.

Erica Randall and Rhea Luckett founded Calvert Cares at Christmas, a Facebook page created “to help any family in need during this holiday season to make their children’s Christmas a wonderful one!”

“I didn’t realize until this started that there are so many needy kids in Calvert. I knew it was around us; I just didn’t know how bad,” Randall said.

“If there was ever a Christmas miracle, this was it,” said Luckett.

In mid-November, Randall said she noticed people posting on the Calvert County Maryland Facebook page asking for help with presents, coats and clothes.

Randall said she wrote a private message to the administrator of the Calvert County Maryland page asking if there were already any efforts to help under way.

When the administrator wrote back saying that “it would be great if someone would help,” Randall said, that’s when Calvert Cares at Christmas was created.

It was one post in particular on the Calvert County Maryland Facebook page that touched Randall, she said.

“The whole reason I started this was because of a single mom in the St. Leonard area and her son has Asperger’s disorder and he wears a size 4X,” she explained. The 16-year-old boy, she continued, only had two shirts that fit, and one hoodie that “was basically wearing out.”

Luckett, who offered Randall her time after she saw a post from Calvert Cares at Christmas on the Calvert County Maryland Facebook page, said she got in contact with a man in Hagerstown, who is giving the young man clothes, a new coat and new shoes.

“One family turned into five and now I think there’s 150 kids. It seems to keep growing,” Randall said of how quickly Calvert Cares escalated.

Luckett said, “If it wasn’t for Facebook and networking, this never would have happened.”

In the first couple weeks, Randall explained, she and Luckett were doing anonymous sponsorships in which a family requested items in a private message to the Calvert Cares page, and then either Luckett or Randall would post the needs and someone would choose to sponsor those needs.

“It got so big, Anthony’s [Bar and Grill] decided to do a toy drive,” Randall said.

On Dec. 7, Anthony’s Bar and Grill in Dunkirk hosted the “Rock-N-Roll Christmas Toy Drive” and collected enough toys to load the van, Randall said.

Luckett said the three bands — Others May Fall, School Daze and Bottle and a Throttle — who performed at the toy drive that night “packed the house.”

According to the event flier, a toy was required for entry.

“It took four hours to unpack all the toys,” Luckett said.

“All the kids that didn’t get sponsors got two to three toys a piece,” Randall said, adding that it helped nearly 40 kids. “The toy drive went absolutely amazing.”

On Dec. 21, Randall said there were only a few families left that were going to have their items by Christmas Day, but the page was beginning to get requests from teachers for clothes for students.

“Rhea and I don’t know how to stop,” Randall said.

She said she and Luckett “could not have asked for a better group of [sponsors and volunteers].”

Luckett said next year, Calvert Cares is partnering with the local Toys for Tots, where all of the extra toys are going this year. She said Calvert Cares has also given coats and clothes to Project ECHO, a transitional housing organization that helps reintegrate homeless individuals into the community.

“It’s really a Calvert County blessing,” she said.