Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin : October 2006

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Attorneys Put Food on the Table of Hungry Marylanders

In 1988, a small group of lawyers rallied together to fight one of Maryland's most disparaging adversaries hunger. Since then, Maryland attorneys have donated over $2 million to help the Lawyers' Campaign Against Hunger in its cause. All proceeds go directly to the Maryland Food Bank and Capital Area Food Bank. Through the contributions of many generous lawyers, the campaign aims to raise money in order to support food distribution and hunger-related efforts for the needy.

FEW LAWYERS
have ever experienced
hunger in the manner in
which those we assist are
experiencing hunger.

Neil Helfrich
MSBA Past President

"The campaign shows the positive light the legal community can have," says Mont Brownlee, III, an attorney with the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Office of Research Administration, and chair of the campaign's executive committee. "It was a humble, small beginning, but it grew into a huge campaign. I am proud that the beneficiaries of the Food Bank are throughout the state."

With every donated dollar equating to $14 worth of food, the Maryland Food Bank was able to provide 13 million pounds of food to Maryland's poverty-stricken in 2005. Worth more than $19 million, last year's donation translated to approximately 10.5 million meals and allowed nearly 65,000 Marylanders to receive food weekly.

The dream of a few lawyers quickly imbibed hundreds of altruistic attorneys, but expanding the assistance to encompass more of the state has been a goal of the campaign since the beginning.

"Historically, [the campaign] was made up of young to mid-career attorneys in downtown Baltimore," explains Brownlee, whose goal is to begin "spreading the reach to broaden the people and areas involved."

One way to broaden the campaign's scope is through "Network Captains": essentially ambassadors at various firms (especially large firms). Their duties include sending e-mails, memos and pledge sheets around the office to keep people notified and generate new interest in the campaign. Brownlee feels that the face-to-face personal connection is an effective way of recruiting new donators.

The campaign also features a youth-focused movement as representatives from both the University of Maryland School of Law and the University of Baltimore Law School sit on the Campaign's executive committee. Brownlee highly regards this aspect, as he began his own involvement with the Lawyers' Campaign Against Hunger while a student representative for the University of Maryland School of Law. As incentive for fellow law students to be active in the Campaign, the UMD representatives set up a canned-food drive in which every participant that donates does not get called on in class that day.

"The law students are a really nice aspect," Brownlee remarks. "They have great awareness and long-standing activity [within the campaign]."

As the colder weather begins to sweep across the state, the tax-deductible donation can bestow a huge amount of emotional and physical aide to those afflicted by hunger. For instance, a $75 donation provides 220 pounds of food; a $100 donation supplies a soup kitchen with enough food to prepare 840 meals; a payment of $250 allows the purchase of a chest freezer; $500 can buy tools, hoses and supplies to cultivate a community garden that provides fresh produce; $1,000 transports a truckload of cereal from Michigan and bananas from the port of Delaware to the Food Bank; and $3,000 funds a new School Pantry Program from the current waiting list for the entire school year.

"Few lawyers have ever experienced hunger in the manner in which those we assist are experiencing hunger," wrote past MSBA President Neil Helfrich in a letter encouraging new attorneys to help fight hunger. "People in their position must make choices. They must allocate their money to pay for basic needs such as food, shelter and utilities that cost more per month than they earn. They exist by robbing Peter to pay Paul."

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: October 2006