A single act of kindness more than thirty years ago was the spark that started what has now become Giving Back – Linda’s Legacy. Linda Greenberg, a resident of Anne Arundel County simply gave her hat to a homeless person who needed it a lot more than she did. Soon Linda was collecting all sorts of clothing from the community and distributing it to the homeless each Christmas, first from the trunk of her car and then from the trunks and vans of many friends. In 2003 the collection of clothes and other items was formalized and the Farmer’s Market in Annapolis became the official collection site for the Holiday Drive to Help the Homeless. Here people from all over could drop off gently used clothing, toys and personal items that would then be sorted, packed in boxes, and loaded into trucks waiting to be delivered on Christmas Eve, and the donations poured in.
The other major component of the Drive, and a key component of our Mission, is the involvement of school children is stuffing backpacks with winter clothing which they pay for themselves. This past year GBLL delivered over 1700 of these backpacks as part of the more than 20 truck loads of clothing and other items which were delivered on Christmas Eve. GBLL’s 2010 drive involved over 500 volunteers delivering goods to more than two dozen shelters and on the streets, affecting the lives of thousands of men, women and children.
In 2004, as the Drive was getting much too much for one person to handle, Steve Anstett stepped in to help Linda keep things growing and developing. Steve quickly became a major force in Giving Back and took the steps that allowed the organization and its reach to greatly expand. In particular he initiated the backpack program which has become a major component of the organization. He continues to lead the organization and inspire more and more people to get involved with this effort.
In 2009 the organization, which was previously known as Giving Back and operating under an umbrella organization, formally incorporated and received its own 501 (c) 3 certification. To honor the tremendous work done by our founder, Linda Greenberg, the organization’s name was changed to Giving Back – Linda’s Legacy. An Executive Board of four members was formed to assist and guide Steve in the continued development of GBLL. In 2011 an Advisory Board was formed to get some of our more dedicated volunteers involved in the process.
At the current time GBLL’s only formal action is the Holiday Drive. This Drive generally starts in September when we receive commitments from various groups to provide backpacks and start ordering the materials. We also start reaching out to the various shelters to find out what materials would be most needed at their facility. In the following weeks volunteers known as shelter coordinators visit each of the shelters to coordinate the deliveries of the appropriate items.
In October and November, Steve and other volunteers meet with dozens of local civic groups, schools, clubs, scout troops and church communities asking them to help with the Drive by purchasing backpacks. We then supply all the materials for them to stuff the backpacks and they become part of our deliveries. Backpack parties are becoming a popular event, not only at the schools which often purchase large quantities, but as part of small neighborhood Holiday parties. GBLL also gets a number of financial contributions from individuals and corporations. These funds are used to both purchase additional clothing items to be distributed and to pay for the rental of the trucks and other expenses associated with the Drive.
For the four days before Christmas, the Farmer’s Market in Annapolis becomes the Drive collections site. People from all over different communities come by to donate items which are then sorted by type and gender, and targeted to the specific shelter where they will be needed the most. A great deal of the work of sorting and separating the donated items is done by local high school students who are on Holiday break.
On Christmas Eve the trucks leave the Farmer’s Market and make their way through Anne Arundel County, Washington, DC, and Baltimore. They stop at more than two dozen shelters during the day where volunteers following the trucks unload the materials and often meet with the residents of the shelters. There are always memorable experiences on these deliveries. At night several trucks head to the streets of Baltimore where hundreds of people who cannot get into a shelter meet us outside to receive their backpacks and other gifts, often including some food. The last stop is the Code Blue shelter which houses 400 men and women from the streets each night. At each of these night stops there is one-on-one interaction between the homeless person and the volunteer as the volunteer assists each in receiving their items. Again, this is always a memorable experience.
GBLL’s Executive Board direct the business operations and provides the decision making and leadership of the organization. Its members are as follows: