Baltimore, MD - September 3-  About 10:30 a.m., this morning, a silver minivan unassumingly pulled up to Seasons in Pikesville. Out piled a man and four boys, dressed in colorful neon summer tees, who looked like they were on a mission—that’s because they were! By the time they disembarked the van, the rear hatch had already popped open. Its contents--piled high Target bags, stuffed with numerous bottles of Clorox, Pine Sol, and other cleaning supplies, in addition to four cases of bottled water, three packages of napkins, and two packages of paper towels—were quickly revealed as they unloaded the van. In a very organized manner, they lifted everything onto a table that had been set up in front of the store. Attached to it, was a homemade poster that read, ‘Donate For “Harvey” Families’.

Receiving the load were volunteers Merav Levin and Ariel Lutch, who were manning (or rather, womanning!) their 9-11 a.m. shift. Their daughters, 10-year-old Nava Levine, and 14-year-old Tzivia Lutch—both, Bais Yaakov of Baltimore students—were helping them.

It was the crew from The Baltimore Sun that discovered the identities of the benefactors, as they and I were interviewing and snapping away--Shlomo Goldstein and his sons, Yitzchak (13) and Avraham (10), and twin nephews, Avi and Yitzy Hyatt (12), all of whom are Talmudical Academy (T.A.) students.

“It was actually my son, Yitzchak’s, idea,” says Shlomo. “After seeing the call to help our brothers and sisters in Houston, on, Yitzchak went ahead and purchased this stuff on Friday. The store was closed then, so we brought it today.”

“I told my mom and she took me and I paid for it, myself,” explains Yitzchak. “I used my maaser money and spent $118.”

The Levines and Lutches had also read about Seasons’ coordinated store-wide collection effort on Although neither family had a more personal connection to someone who experienced the ravaging storm beyond a Facebook “friend”, they decided to give up a chunk of their Sunday for the cause. As Ariel, noted, ‘Even if you don’t have a personal connection, you feel, ‘What would you want other people to do if you were in that situation?’

The Pikesville Seasons branch joined Seasons’ other locations in New Jersey and New York, who have been collecting different lists of items since last Thursday; today was the last day. The Pikesville list of items included: Heavy duty paper plates, napkins, plastic utensils, plastic cups, drinks and bottled water, toilet paper, tissues, dishwashing gloves, dishwasher detergent, bleach, Pine Sol, Lysol wipes, rags, paper towel, heavy duty mops, 5-gallon minimum buckets, and floor tarps.

It was amazing to see how many shoppers approached the donation table to offer these items, in addition to cash donations. When they were told that cash was not being accepted, some shoppers who had already finished their personal shopping, returned to the inside of the store just to purchase the specific items that were on the list in order to donate them.

Everything collected was sorted into different boxes and loaded onto two rented 16-foot tractor trailers that left for Clifton, New Jersey, tonight. From there, it will be trucked to Houston.

Seasons’ general manager, Zachary Richards, explains, “Within two weeks of opening, we are really trying to bring the community together and rally behind the cause. That is what Seasons is all about—coming together in times of need and helping people out. It fits right in the parameters of the company’s mission and overall shopping experience. It’s the same thing. For us, it’s just an extension of what we already do.”

Seasons CEO, Mayer Gold adds: "When your brothers and sisters are in need, you help out. It's not a question of business or credit. It's just what you do. This is bigger than Seasons, this is a whole community, dozens of communities doing whatever they can to help their family."

Chanan and Elana Weissman, who were there with their young daughters, also donated some items. Although they know people who live in Houston, they are, Boruch Hashem, safe and taken care of—among the lucky ones, as they noted.

Concludes Elana, “It’s a horrible, horrific tragedy that has happened in Texas, and we wanted to do our very small part to help…It was important for us to bring our daughters to see that we are responsible for taking care of the community at large.”

(Photo Credit: BJLife/Margie Pensak)