Huntingtown, MD – In 1972, 14 individuals in North Beach formed an organization aimed at helping their community. These fourteen good Samaritans would bring gifts to hospitalized patients, cook food for those in need over the holidays, donate items to families who lost their homes, and did everything they could to directly help the public. Forty-five years later, The HELP Association is now over 50 volunteers strong and has donated over $2 million to organizations in Calvert County.
The HELP Association obtains its donations by running a thrift store in North Beach. One-hundred percent of the proceeds from the items purchased go towards helping the community. The HELP Association doesn’t limit their range of assistance. Their donations support organizations involving care for the elderly, feeding the hungry, public safety, animal welfare, education, and the youth—just to name a few. Because of how exponentially this organization has expanded, the members aren’t always able to directly help the public anymore, but their donations to nonprofits make all the difference in the lives of Calvert County residents. They have even supported national organizations in the event of natural disasters.
On July 27, The HELP Association celebrated their 45th anniversary with a dinner at the Huntingtown Volunteer Fire Department Banquet Hall. In attendance were not only almost every single volunteer, but also Calvert County Commissioners Steven R. Weems, Pat Nutter and Evan K. Slaughenhoupt, Jr., and Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. The volunteers were a wide array of individuals, from different walks of life, all with one common passion—helping others in need. The evening was emblazoned with laughter, as members reminisced on their years working together. A slideshow featuring photos over the decades played throughout the dinner, along with some testimonials given by those that have received donations. Organizations such as Patuxent Habitat for Humanity, Special Olympics, End Hunger in Calvert County, College of Southern Maryland, Boys & Girls Club of America, and even a police dog named Silko were all included to show how greatly The HELP Association has impacted them.
There was an endearing, warm ambiance in the room as the volunteers all received awards for their years of participation. Special awards were given by the commissioners and Senator Miller to the President of the HELP Association: Norma Houston, Kathy Hurst for 34 years of her service, and to RubyLee O’Dell for being one of the original members, dedicating 45 years of her life to helping others. The evening ended as heartfelt as it started, with Commissioner Weems serenading Norma, Kathy and RubyLee with a little Elvis.
Starting from just 14 people in a room, to over fifty working in their own thrift store, The HELP Association has enriched lives, changed lives, and provided a greater future for the Calvert County community for almost half of a century, and that is undeniably worth a celebration.