Every year, Camp St. Vincent gives homeless children from Baltimore County and Baltimore City an opportunity to escape their unfortunate plights in exchange for a summer of educational fun. Although their lives may be unpredictable, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Camp St. Vincent provides a routine source of love, sustenance, and comfort to 160 underprivileged kids. This year, one of Baltimore’s most active charities is kindly reaching out to the community for assistance and support in the form of healthy snack foods so that they may continue their summer camp operations.
The children, aged anywhere from 5-to-15-years-old, come from homeless shelters and transitional houses from all over Baltimore County. Many of them go without food or a chance to properly learn while at home, and Camp St. Vincent is their only chance for consistent meals, quality recreational time, and a stable family-like environment. In recent years, however, the Camp St. Vincent’s pantry has grown lean, and they are calling on Baltimore County residents for help.
The problem is not providing campers with full meals, but rather the snacks they so crave in between. The camp relies on the community to donate snacks whenever they can, and the need has reached an all-time high. Although the children are still being fed regularly, they could use a little more variety between-meals.
Aside from procuring basic amenities like meals and snacks, the camp regularly takes the homeless children swimming, on trips to play sports and build leadership skills, and also on educational opportunities to learn about other cultures – especially their styles of dance. In addition, the camp offers academic programs in math, science, English, and arts and crafts. For $225, a child is fully covered for an entire week of activities, and St. Vincent de Paul is always accepting donations.
The children also have a wish list of items on Amazon (available at https://amzn.com/w/2F5QXF2EG3JAC) for thoughtful donators to buy as a show of solidarity and support. The cheapest item is a pair of Star Wars swim trunks for boys, valued at a little over $20, and the most expensive item is a high quality Yoga mat for $150. Other items on the modest 2-page list include snacks, shoes, basic toys, and hygiene supplies. Snacks especially dominate the list, underscoring Camp St. Vincent’s urgent need in this department.
Camp St. Vincent is hardly the organization’s first foray into helping the homeless. Founded in 1865, St. Vincent de Paul proudly hosts a dozen programs to for the homeless to reestablish themselves within society. In 2009, they began the Front Door program, in which St. Vincent de Paul acts as the guarantor on behalf of homeless families applying for tenancy. With the financial backing of St. Vincent de Paul, many impoverished Marylanders were able to convince landlords to literally take them off of the streets. The program still goes on to this day with great success.
Homelessness is prevalent throughout almost all areas of Maryland, including Baltimore County. As of 2013, the Maryland Neighborhood Improvement agency identified a total of 919 homeless individuals living in Baltimore County. Maryland residents, however, are not standing by idly to watch the problem worsen. There are more than 30 non-profit organizations in Baltimore County to combat the problem of homelessness and accommodate the homeless population with their daily struggles and overall needs.
For over 150 years, St. Vincent de Paul has been an active non-profit organization in the Maryland area. In 2005, they were awarded the Maryland Nonprofits Seal of Excellence, showcasing their longstanding and exemplary efforts in committing acts of local philanthropy – and all they are asking for in return for their good service is a few packages of snack foods for the kids.