Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Annual food drive honors officer’s legacy

Police launch May donation campaign to fill the shelves of Capt. Joseph Mattingly Food Bank

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After Capt. Joseph Mattingly died on duty in September 2003, Montgomery County Police looked for the best way to honor a man known for his dedication to the community.

The obvious choice was to name the Mid-County United Ministries food pantry, which opened in 1998 at the Mid-County Regional Services Center on Reedie Drive, after Mattingly in 2006, because of his lasting interest in helping citizens in need during 28 years on the force.

‘‘It was his vision to show that officers care about the community and they really make an impact and work in a positive way to provide services to those in need,” said Capt. David Gillespie, director of the special investigations division for county police, a colleague of Mattingly’s in the Fourth District and a member of MUM’s board of directors.

Throughout May, county police will honor Mattingly with the Fourth Annual Police Food Drive, which will benefit the Capt. Joseph A. Mattingly Memorial Food Bank. The drive, which began May 5 and will run through May 23, comes at a time when the community is in desperate need of help, said Diane Schroeder, the pantry director.

With food costs, unemployment rates and housing foreclosures rising, the pantry is struggling to keep up with demand, Schroeder said. On the first day of the drive, 14 people came in to get food for their families, she said.

Schroeder estimates the tiny pantry will give away 1,800 bags of groceries this year, as opposed to 1,300 last year, when demand was still high. She expects an increase in families frequenting the pantry during the summer when schools are closed for the summer. Those residents will join the many senior citizens living on fixed incomes who require aid.

She said citizens should donate items like cereal, powdered milk, peanut butter and other snack items, but anything the public can provide will help in a time of significant need.

‘‘As fast as the food comes in, it goes out,” Schroeder said, adding that MUM serves more than 900 clients a year.

Collection boxes will be located at each police district and division station, the Emergency Communications Center and police headquarters. Gillespie said he hopes residents will join police in increasing donations from previous years.

Last year, the drive collected more than two truckloads of food and $500, although that was less than previous years, Gillespie said.

Mattingly’s widow, Liz Mattingly, has extended the legacy of her husband by volunteering at the pantry every Wednesday morning. She said her husband ‘‘loved being a police officer” and an event that helps the community is the perfect way to honor him.

‘‘It’s such an honor that they did this and it means so much to me that his vision and his ideas were taken to the next level,” Liz Mattingly said. ‘‘That way he lives again.”

Capt. Mattingly was a longtime Fourth District officer who was heavily involved with the Mid-County Neighborhood Initiative’s Community Policing Workgroup, which provides assistance, outreach and safety to residents and youth. Gillespie said Mattingly was transferred to police headquarters in the spring of 2003 just as he was beginning an initiative to open another food bank in Wheaton.

In September of that year, Mattingly died in a single-car crash while on duty. He was 51 and left behind his wife and four children. Mattingly’s vision of a new food pantry in Wheaton was never realized but served as the inspiration for renaming MUM after Mattingly, Gillespie said.

Capt. Mattingly’s mother, Marion Mattingly, a longtime member of the board of the directors for the Capital Area Food Bank in D.C., said she was proud that her son’s desire to help with the community is being honored by the food drive.

‘‘Something good has come out of [his death] – and it’s sometimes hard to see – but it is something good and it’s been very positive,” she said.

donation drive

Food or cash donations can be made at the following Montgomery County locations through May 23:

Police Headquarters: 2350 Research Blvd., Rockville

First District Station: 1451 Seven Locks Road, Rockville

Second District Station: 7359 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda

Third District Station: 801 Sligo Ave., Silver Spring

Fourth District Station: 2300 Randolph Road, Wheaton

Fifth District Station: 20000 Aircraft Drive, Germantown

Sixth District Station: 18749 N. Frederick Road, Gaithersburg

Joseph Mattingly Food Bank: 2424 Reedie Drive, Wheaton

Police Volunteer Services Office: 12500 Ardennes Ave., Rockville