PERRYVILLE — Maryland Transportation Authority Police came alongside Lion of Judah Bible Cafe at 304 Aiken Avenue to provide a full Thanksgiving dinner to 25 families in need.
This new-found relationship began when Corporal Frank Esposito pulled over Merian Harmon, the owner of the cafe and community service organization.
“I gave her a ticket and she offered to pray for me,” Esposito said Monday. Harmon used the stop as an opportunity to tell the officer about her. ministry. “I came back later and visited her.”
He learned that Harmon had 25 turkeys but no side dishes.
While the Hatem Bridge detachment of MDTA has been active in collecting toys, Esposito said this is their first time helping out at Thanksgiving.
“When I was president of the Maryland Troopers Association we did it all the time,” he said of his days in the Maryland State Police.
The officers took up a collection in-house and went shopping, bringing back canned vegetables, potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and other traditional elements of the All-American meal. In Joy, a veterans and seniors social center, also donated additional bags of food for distribution.
“This is our second year doing this,” Harmon said of her organization, which recently celebrated its first anniversary. She identified the recipients from relationships she’s formed in that year.
“We’re geared toward veterans, senior citizens and families,” Harmon said.
Harold Anderson was one of those veterans.
“I’m picking up for myself and a friend,” Anderson said. He struggled for a few minutes to figure out how he would carry bags of groceries and 2 turkeys. About that time someone volunteered to go with him and help carry the food.
“This is very much appreciated,” said Anderson, a disabled veteran of the US Army.
Likewise, Sheila Moulden was grateful for the donation for her family.
“It’s a blessing,” Moulden said. “Any time I am short of food we come here.”
Moulden is one of the volunteers at Lion of Judah Bible Cafe.
“I was walking to the store one day and Miss Merian stopped me and told me what they could offer. I’ve been coming here since May,” she said.
In the midst of the flurry of activity, Harmon said the next event at Lion of Judah would be a free luncheon on Dec. 2 at noon.
“People are invited to come in and sit down for a meal as a community,” Harmon said.
Just before the officers went back to their barrack, Esposito handed Harmon a handful of cash; more donations from the Hatem Bridge staff. Harmon then prayed for the officers, thanking them for their service and seeking protection and safety for each.