The following individuals were recognized by the Thurmont Grange with the Grange Community Citizen Awards, both of whom generously volunteer their time to serve our community through programs that fulfill a great need: the Clothes Closet and the Thurmont Food Bank.
The first recipient of the Community Citizen Award is Sandy Moser from the Clothes Closet. Sandy was born and raised in Thurmont. She has been married to Jim Moser for 60 years. Jim and Sandy have five children, eight grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. Sandy has been a member of Thurmont Grange for 60 years. She is a 7th degree member and over the years has served as Grange lecturer and all the Graces. She is also a lifelong member of Thurmont United Methodist Church where she has been a youth leader with her husband, as well as youth director. Her involvement with the church is how she found her way to the Clothes Closet.
Thurmont United Methodist Church organized the Clothes Closet over 50 years ago to serve an apparent need for families in the surrounding communities with clothes, shoes, coats, bedding, and towels. Sandy has been volunteering with the Clothes Closet for the last 15 years. She is currently the distribution chairperson. Sandy, with the help of other volunteers, inspects clothing for defects, displays and organizes clothing, and oversees the Clothes Closet during open hours. She is also available for emergency calls, such as individuals needing outfits for interviews, weddings, or funerals, or children removed from their homes and put into foster care without any of their belongings. Sandy sees that clothes are distributed to other organizations, such as the Frederick Rescue Mission, Healthy Families of Frederick, Mountain Manor, Emmitsburg Pregnancy Center, and a mission in Honduras. She sees that all donations are put to use. Even those that are not suitable for wear are given to the Rescue Mission, who sells them as rags to support their efforts or to local veterinarians to use as towels and sheets.
The Clothes Closet sponsors a Christmas Open House the first Monday in December. There is a toy shop with new and gently used toys for newborns up to teens. The Thurmont United Methodist Church also provides each family with a Walmart gift card. Families can also pick up Christmas trees, decorations, and other holiday items at the open house.
The Clothes Closet has been church-sponsored for over 50 years. Currently, there are 6 board members and 32 volunteers. They receive approximately 150 bags of donations every week and are able to serve 60 families per month. These families come from a 12-miles radius with three to five new families each month. The Clothes Closet is open the first and fourth Monday evenings and the third Tuesday morning of each month. Sandy stated that many people come not only for clothes but also for fellowship and prayer.
The second recipient is Pastor Sally Joyner Giffin from Harriet Chapel and also director of The Thurmont Food Bank. Over the course of her life, Pastor Sally has resided in many states, from Virginia to Vermont, before finding her way to Frederick County and Harriet Chapel. She and her husband, John, have been married for 40 years. They have two children, a daughter who lives in Colorado and a son who lives in Frederick.
The Thurmont Food Bank has been assisting families since the 1970s. It has been housed in several locations, always outgrowing the space. Eventually, the opportunity arose for the Food Bank to rent the former Town Office building. This larger space allowed room for freezers and refrigerators to be installed, which expanded the types of food that can be distributed.
Pastor Sally has been involved with the Thurmont Food Bank for 15 years and has served as its director for the past 14 years. She oversees some 40 volunteers who unload trucks, collect donations, stock shelves, distribute food, and handle the monetary donation jars that are placed around the community. Donations come in from churches, civic organizations, businesses, the police department, the post office, the boy scouts, and individuals. The Town of Thurmont is also a huge supporter, providing regular shipments of food in large supply. In addition to food, the food bank also distributes hygiene items such as shampoo, soap, and shaving supplies; adult Depends; diapers; baby food; laundry detergent; paper products; and gas vouchers for those who have medical appointments but can’t afford gas to get there. No food donations go to waste at the Thurmont Food Bank. Expired items are given to the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and local farmers who feed them to their animals.
The Thurmont Food Bank is supported by the Ministerium, which is comprised of faith-based organizations and churches throughout Lewistown, Thurmont, Rocky Ridge, Utica, and Sabillasville. Through the Ministerium, there is assistance available for other needs such as emergency homelessness by providing a few nights’ stay in a local motel and financial assistance for medical bills that is coordinated through Seton Center.
There are times of the year when the Thurmont Food Bank is able to provide something extra for the families they serve. The food bank coordinates the Christmas gift program by finding sponsors for children and the elderly or shut-ins who may not otherwise receive a gift at Christmas. Additionally, during the Christmas season, the Colorfest Committee donates 200 hams to the food bank. At Thanksgiving, 220 turkeys are distributed, with all the trimmings, for a Thanksgiving meal. At Easter, hams are provided to families as well.
The Thurmont Food Bank sees 200-300 families per month. That equates to between 1,000 and 1,400 people. Each month, approximately 7,000 pounds of food are distributed to these families. The Thurmont Food Bank is open every Tuesday, 5:00-7:30 p.m., and every Friday, 4:00-6:00 p.m. Pastor Sally stated that the Thurmont Food Bank is an amazing organization, made up of many donors and volunteers. One does not realize how many lives are touched, not just the families assisted by the food bank, but also the lives of those who make the food bank possible.
Both recipients wished to acknowledge all of the other volunteers with the Clothes Closet and the Thurmont Food Bank, who assist them with all of the activities, programs, etc. and provide a better life for those less fortunate.
Pictured from left: Nancy Richardson, past chairman of Thurmont Clothes Closet; Denise Bentley, chairman of the Board of Thurmont Clothes Closet; Sandy Moser, Community Citizen Award recipient; and Niki Eyler, Thurmont Grange lecturer.