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Sharing and Caring event promotes education, provides meals and gifts

Stacy M. Brown | 12/4/2015, 6 a.m.
More than three hundred underprivileged Baltimore youth and their families will be provided food, gifts and a day of entertainment ...
(Above) Doris McQuaige-Duncan (front center green shirt), and staff of the Caring and Sharing Committee at John Wesley United Church. (Courtesy Photo)

More than three hundred underprivileged Baltimore youth and their families will be provided food, gifts and a day of entertainment as the Sharing and Caring Committee at John Wesley United Methodist Church hosts a daylong community event on Saturday, December 19, 2015. The event will be held at the church located at 3202 W. North

Avenue in West Baltimore from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

The Sharing and Caring program, which has been held annually for the last 34 years, will include a performance by a children’s choir and other entertainment. Children attending will be provided hats, gloves and needed school supplies.

“It started with just me and some family members before the church adopted the program and they began to give donations toward it,” said Sharing and Caring founder Doris McQuaige-Duncan.

Inspired by Mary McLeod Bethune, the famed educator and leader best known for opening a private school for African-Americans in Florida, McQuaige-Duncan says that she is driven by education, a foundation that she says is needed by all children.

“I am very big on education. The one thing about this program is that it promotes education and reminds the children how important it is to learn,” she said.

Additionally, the Sharing and Caring Committee promotes higher education by awarding students who have perfect attendance, averages of B+ or higher in reading, language or mathematics and improved social/emotional behavior.

Students come to the event from Rosemont Elementary, Edgewood Elementary, Belmont Elementary and Alexander Hamilton Elementary schools as well as City Springs Elementary/Middle School, according to McQuaige-Duncan.

“Sometimes, we ask schools for 25 or 50 people, but often the schools will send more,” she said. “We don’t turn anyone away and sometimes schools from the county will send children, who must come with their report cards so that we can see their grades.”

The Sharing and Caring program event will begin at approximately 9:30 a.m. with attendees provided a choice of hot or cold cereal, fruit, pancakes, sausage and juice. Coffee is available for adults as well, McQuaige-Duncan said.

More than 300 children and parents are expected and McQuaige-Duncan said she’s hoping that local residents and others will open their hearts and wallets to help provide toys and coats for children as well as bicycles, analog watches and other gifts.

“Last year, we gave out more than 30 watches. We don’t do digital because I want children to learn how to tell time,” said McQuaige-Duncan, who has reached deep into her own pockets, using money set aside to pay her mortgage to help fund the event.

“When you learn that the child who came previously is still on the honor roll and then you see them stand up and say they’ve earned it, it’s a beautiful thing,” she said.

“It’s essentially important to the community that the primary purpose is that you’re supporting education; encouraging and motivating children to attend school and stay in school.”

Many of the children live in tough neighborhoods, most of which are drug-infested and the most of the families receive public assistance.

“With education, you learn the correct way to do things, the importance of hard work and honesty,” she said. “There’s nothing like it because honesty and hard work can motivate children. And, for us who can help, I’m a firm believer that God blesses us to help others. I’m an adult who was a high school dropout, got pregnant and married shotgun style. But, my children saw me graduate.”

Donations are welcome and can be dropped off at John Wesley United Methodist Church located at 3202 W. North Avenue in West Baltimore. When making a donation, please indicate that the contribution is for Sharing and Caring.