Pasadena resident Pat Quesenberry has been providing Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners to families in need for three years.
“This ministry started three years ago and it was over a bag that I had got from one of my clients that had toys and gloves and hats,” said Quesenberry, an active member of Lighthouse Church in Glen Burnie. “I asked a friend of mine that was a nurse at Park Elementary [in Brooklyn] if she could use it. She said she would take a look at it and she asked me if I wanted to make Christmas baskets.”
In her first year, Quesenberry donated to 25 families; the second year, she provided for 50 families; this year, she has donated to 97 families from five schools, all while maintaining a full-time job as a hairdresser and raising two children.
The donations go to local Title 1 schools. Title 1 schools are low-income and receive funding from the government to prevent students from falling behind. Many of these students are on free or reduced lunch programs and may not have food when they are home.
“Not only are we providing a meal, but we are providing take-home food for these children who don’t have food for the time that they are off of school,” said Quesenberry.
With the help of Facebook friends and members of her church, she has not been alone in her efforts. In addition to meals, she encouraged friends to adopt a child during Christmas and together they donated gifts to 99 children.
“Facebook has been my vehicle,” said Quesenberry. “I’ve been blessed enough to put that out there, and people provide.”
Quesenberry looks for new ways to lend a helping hand as her ministry grows.
After learning that many teachers have to buy their own supplies, the ministry changed directions, and she has provided everything from backpacks to electric pencil sharpeners for every teacher at Park Elementary.
“We are raising a generation and that is huge. They’re teaching those kids,” said Quesenberry. “It’s important to give back to the teachers that are looking after our children.”
She also supports BKind Gives, a nonprofit organization based in Glen Burnie that provides meals, toiletries and clothing to those in need every Saturday behind the old Harundale Mall. Recently, Quesenberry received a donation of frozen turkeys from Costco and assisted the organization in providing its own Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.
“I feel blessed and honored that I’m able to help out,” said Quesenberry. “I don’t have needs. If I see the need and I’m able to provide, it’s just about giving back.”
She credits the support from her “church family” for keeping her going. The support from the community has given her the opportunity to grow the ministry into more than she ever imagined.