By Paula Wolf
Now that another Christmas holiday season has passed, the Arbutus Business and Professional Association extends its grateful appreciation to Jeff Utzinger, Santa's number one helper in Arbutus, Arbutus Town Hall, Arbutus Auto Painting and Bodyworks, Community Real Estate Team, Donna Marino, Karen Herring, Diane Winchester, Buckingham Automotive, the Ice Cream Cottage, John Cadigan, the Law Offices of Terrence M. Nolan, Ted Harding, Rodney Sparrow, Jerry Kramer, Grayson Bennett, Ron Woynovitz, Jim Zinkand, Jim McKeldin, Sign-A-Rama Catonsville, M & N Plastering and the Boumi Temple clowns, along with those previously acknowledged, for their generous contributions.
The association could not have made Christmas merry for so many without them.
On a less festive note, Nancy Smith, major gifts officer for the Maryland Food Bank, described the operations to the members of the Arbutus Business and Professional Association during the group's December meeting.
The Food Bank recently celebrated five years at its facility in Halethorpe.
It serves the state with the exception of Montgomery and Prince George's counties, which are served by a bank in the Capital Area Food Bank, through the main distribution facility in Halethorpe, six subsidiary distribution sites in central Maryland and from an Eastern Shore facility in Salisbury.
The Maryland Food Bank has been operating since 1979.
Each week, it helps 60,000 Maryland families with items distributed to shelters, food ministries and other providers.
These providers, known as Network Partners, purchase food at a nominal price per pound which allows the Food Bank to recoup some of its costs.
According to Smith, assistance providers are seeing an increase in the number of traditionally middle class clients faced with rising housing, utility and fuel costs, often coupled with unexpected health issues.
Many do not qualify for public assistance, yet cannot afford to put food on the table.
Smith said the number of such families is double that of just three years ago.
A new challenge for the Food Bank are manufacturers who previously donated less than perfect goods who now sell those items to "dollar" and discount retailers.
The Maryland Food Bank distributed more than 14.5 million pounds of food in 2007 and is on track to exceed that in 2008.
They receive products from corporate food drives and directly from wholesale and retail suppliers.
Funds generated through donations are used to purchase additional food products.
Smith assured ABPA members that the Maryland Food Bank is up to meeting the challenge.
Those interested in how the Food Bank operates or who want to donate online should go to www.mdfoodbank.org.
The Maryland Food Bank may also be reached at 410-737-8282.
The ABPA also welcomed Betty Okonski, director of Southwest Emergency Services, to the meeting.
Okonski, a frequent visitor to the Food Bank, emphasized the importance of the Food Bank to her mission.
She agreed with Smith that hunger is increasing while donated supplies and funds are decreasing.
On Dec. 12, SWES held a toy and clothing giveaway for more than 800 children from the 21227 ZIP code.
Okonski expressed particular appreciation to the St. Agnes Foundation for the financial gifts and the services it provides residents, regardless of their ability to pay.
She also recognized Arbutus dentist Art Vail for providing pro bono services to her clients.
Jim McCain, president of the Ravens Roost #97, announced that his group raised more than $2,000 this year for the Casey Cares Foundation, Ribbons of Comfort, and the Arbutus Little League.
The Roost meets at Penguin's, 1065 Maiden Choice Lane, on the second Thursday of each month.
The Economic Development Committee recently met with Lisa Akchin, associate vice president for marketing and public relations at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
ABPA members Terry and Patti Sue Nolan (Law Offices of Terrence M. Nolan), Bob Wolf (Wolf's Cycles), Tonya Crowl-Gifford (RAF Consulting) and Paula Wolf (Get Organized) discussed the findings of a recent "field trip" to College Park during which businesses that served the college community were observed.
Some ABPA members currently participate in UMBC's Red Card program, which allows students to make purchases using funds on deposit with the college.
Merchants may also offer discounts through the card program.
Akchin has offered to create a survey for students and staff to determine the types of businesses and services they think would entice them to Arbutus.
ABPA members are encouraged to contact Terry Nolan with suggestions for the survey.
UMBC representatives will be invited to a future meeting to discuss how more ABPA members can participate.
The 2009 ABPA Directory is nearly completed and only a few ad spots remain.
To advertise your business, call Teal Cary at 410-744-8458.
The ABPA's next meeting will be Jan. 15 at 1:00 p.m. at Leon's Triple L Restaurant, 5309 East Drive.
The ABPA welcomes:
MidAtlantic Processing, represented by Randy Shifflett.
MidAtlantic provides credit card, check and gift card processing services to businesses.
Call 410-753-1000 or go to www.map-llc.com.
Pizza 786, a restaurant and carry-out location at 5209 East Drive, represented by Adeel Kiani.
Community Real Estate, a full-service real estate brokerage at 5205 East Drive, Suite V.
Call Nancy Hackley at 410-242-3535.
Re-Max New Beginnings, represented by Deborah Sebour, will open at 1424 Sulphur Spring Road in January 2009.