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Achieving Independence

Our DailyBread

One of Shehan Baird’s earliest memories is of accompanying her grandfather on weekly trips to drop food donations at Our Daily Bread and seeing “so many people outside waiting, so many people in need.” A love of volunteering is baked into the Baird family, and among many other projects, Shehan, 16, and her sister Morgan, 14, had participated in a sandwich-making project for Our Daily Bread Employment Center at St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Cockeysville. Their mother, Lizzy, was impressed that they would “go in to school an hour early for that, to see that love of service.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the family realized people weren’t gathering for those kinds of volunteer projects. Hot meals were still the priority, but the required shift to grab-and-go meals made sandwiches needed more than ever. “After three years of getting up and making sandwiches every Thursday morning, it felt wrong to stop when schools shut down,” Morgan said. “So we decided to continue what our school had started.” The family planned to make 100 sandwiches that first week. Lizzy emailed a few friends to “see if I could add 10 more to ours.” That first week, 400 sandwiches arrived. “And this was a time when nobody was going shopping. Food was scarce,” Lizzy said. “So we knew people were dipping into their pantries.” The second week, they had 1,000 sandwiches, and it kept going. “It’s really exciting on Tuesdays because people from all over the neighborhood will come to our house and bring PBJ sandwiches,” Morgan said. “Little kids are so excited to drop off their sandwiches.” An unexpected benefit was the camaraderie of drop-off days, the chance to catch up with friends from a safe distance—and, as the word spread, to make new friends—during a time of quarantine isolation.

Shehan is a senior at Notre Dame Prep, and Morgan is a freshman. They plan to continue the project. For Morgan, “even making one sandwich makes a difference.” And Shehan is reminded of her early memory of that line of hungry people “and how important it is that we keep this up.” By the end of June, the Bairds and their network had donated more than 12,000 PBJ sandwiches, dozens of casseroles, and hundreds of desserts, loaves of bread, and nonperishable items. The girls have both done several other service projects and will do more as they get more involved at NDP. For them, what started with their grandfather will continue. “We have so much,” Morgan said. “It’s important to remember that.”