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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Baltimore Nonprofit Helps Families, Community Children in Need

Anyone can need a hand and find themselves in need of help if it takes an unexpected turn. Dominique Ruffin knows how valuable receiving assistance can be if a dire situation arises. In 2015, Ruffin was employed part time as a library media specialist at a school when her eldest daughter became ill because of sickle cell anemia disease. The mother found herself not working for two months while trying to assist her child with improving her health.

Since the school secretary was aware of the situation, Ruffin was given an application to fill out for her family to possibly be adopted for Christmas help. Rev. Deborah Shepperson Smith, founder, president and CEO of Angel Wings Ministries, Inc. stepped in to lend support. She is known for empowering the community members in need through her nonprofit.   

“That’s how I know Miss Deborah and I’ve been one of her families ever since,” Ruffin said.

This year marks Ruffin’s first year that she does not need Christmas help since she became familiar with Angel Wings Ministries, Inc.

Volunteers prepare Christmas gifts to be wrapped for families.
Photo credit: Angel Wings Ministries, Inc.

Shepperson Smith—a semi-retired community leader who stays on the go helping others in need—  is on a mission to support children, individuals and families from crisis to wholeness through the interfaith spiritually-based outreach program that is based in Baltimore. The nonprofit was incorporated in 2000 to serve families with children like Ruffin’s.

“I think of Ms. Smith, Ms. Deborah, she’s literally like an angel on Earth if I’m quite honest with you,” Ruffin said. “She’s assisted me in the past with Christmas for me and my two girls. She’s assisted me in the past with school supplies and uniforms. She also helps me out with cleaning products. She’s given me gas money. They’re truly doing the Lord’s work.”

Paul D. Smith is Shepperson Smith’s husband and a board member of Angel Wings Ministries, Inc. Shepperson Smith said that her board is comprised of nine board members and three advisory board members.

“Basically, we serve families going through a crisis. We also do an annual back to school drive where we supply families with uniforms, and those schools that don’t have uniform requirements, we buy them basic clothing to attend school. We give out clothing and school supplies,” Shepperson Smith said.

Although the organization is Baltimore based, the founder explained that people in various locations have received help.

“We have sent things out of state for families, but basically, we serve the greater Baltimore community and some surrounding counties, so it depends on who referred the people to me. Also, when we do Secret Santa, the schools vary from year to year, but we usually serve about six schools, and then we have other referrals,” Shepperson Smith explained.

School social workers make recommendations to identify families who need assistance.

Shepperson Smith noted that underclothes, undershirts, socks, pajamas, outerwear, an outfit and jackets are provided in addition to toys, during the Secret Santa distribution. Three or four other items such as books, puzzles, and games may also be provided.

But Shepperson Smith’s organization is accustomed to lending a hand to families who experience a variety of crisis situations. Another example involved a family that was recently evicted and lost their furniture. Shepperson Smith found out through an email that assistance was needed for them to start over in a new place.

“I was able to get them a sofa and loveseat. Tonight, they’re going to be picking up a bunk bed and mattress,” Shepperson Smith said.

Other families who find their way to Angel Wings Ministries, Inc. may need emergency food. Some individuals have received help finding employment or filling up the gas tank of their car to transport their children to school or drive to work. When people are striving to improve and become self-sufficient, they may even need assistance to make ends meet because child support payments do not arrive.

Shepperson Smith mentioned that her church family at The One God One Thought Center for Better Living has been extremely supportive of her vision.

“I’ve always been a person that felt that we should help one another. So, if you come through your own crisis, or maybe not a crisis, your own hard time, you should be able to lift your brother or your sister up,” Shepperson Smith explained. “I believe that there’s power in numbers. Everybody might not individually be able to help someone, but together everybody’s little bit makes a whole lot and can help.”

New jackets, gloves, and hats are currently needed. Gift cards from stores such as Forman Mills, Walmart or Target are useful for making purchases for children. Funds are also needed to purchase more outerwear for children who may wear bigger sizes. Grocery store gift cards ranging from $30-$50 are desired, too. Monetary donations can be sent via CashApp $AngelWingsMin. Call 410-982-7647 to donate items, sponsor a child or family of children. Visit https://www.angelwingsministries.org to learn more about Angel Wings Ministries, Inc.

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