It was a night of faith, a night of fellowship, a night to help those in need.

Coinciding with Gov. Larry Hogan’s “Day to Serve” initiative and Jewish Volunteer Connection’s “Day to Unite,” the Baltimore Jewish Council and the Church of the Redeemer participated on Sept. 13 in an interfaith gathering at which 300 “Blessing Bags” were packed with supplies for homeless Marylanders.

The two-hour free event, which attracted more than 100 participants and included a kosher pizza dinner, took place at the Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St. Besides the Episcopal church and the BJC, the two-hour gathering was co-sponsored by Repair the World Baltimore, a social action group for Jews and others in their 20s and 30s.

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The assembled care packages included such non-perishable food items as granola bars, trail mix and apple sauce packets; clothing such as socks and hand-warmers; hygiene products and toiletries; and other resources for distribution to the homeless. Participants took the “Blessing Bags” and placed them in their vehicles, to distribute whenever spotting a homeless individual on the street in their communities.

The Samuel I. Rosenberg Endowment Fund provided the grant that covered costs for supplies for the “Blessing Bags” and food at the event.

Among the speakers greeting the participants were Rev. David J. Ware of the Church of the Redeemer; Rabbi Andy Gordon of Bolton Street Synagogue in Roland Park; and Iman Hassan A. Amir, a chaplain at Johns Hopkins University and executive director of the Muslim Social Services Agency.

Among the politicians in attendance were Sen. James Brochin (D-42nd), Del. Shelly L. Hettleman (D-11th), Del. Dana M. Stein (D-11th), Del. Angela C. Gibson (D-41st) and Del. Bilal Ali (D-41st). Also attending were representatives of City Councilman Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer (D-5th).

Kathy LaPlant, director of children’s ministries at the Church of the Redeemer, said she received a lot of “good feedback” about the event from her staff and congregants. She said she and her colleagues first met BJC representatives last May at the church’s “Welcoming the Stranger” event series, and they were pleased to be invited by the BJC to participate in the “Blessing Bags” gathering.

“There’s not a lot of community engagement things you can do with families, especially when kids become teenagers,” she said. “But this was something you could bring the kids to, and the kids really enjoyed it. … There was a lot of good energy there. We had all races, all ages, all faiths. It felt really good.”

Photos by Carl Schmidt/Federal Hill Photography




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