Severna Park Voice

Giving Back: Linda’s Legacy Lives On

January 8, 2014

It started with a hat.

Thirty years ago, Linda Greenberg gave her hat to someone living on the street. From there, she would drive into downtown Baltimore each year on Christmas Eve to give out food and clothing to homeless people. This was not her job, nor was she a part of any organization. She gathered her family and took the trip to the inner city on her own accord because she simply wanted to help those who were less fortunate than herself during the holiday season.

This year, hundreds of volunteers came together in the name of Linda’s cause. Giving Back: Linda’s Legacy has become a major annual production; every year more and more families from the local community volunteer to give up their Christmas Eves and help those in need. In 2004, Steve Anstett joined the organization as a leader to help with the rapidly growing group of volunteers.

During the four days leading up to Christmas, the volunteers collect donations at the Farmer’s Market in Annapolis. They organize the trucks and stuff backpacks to prepare for the trip into Baltimore. This year, over 20 trucks were sent out, filled to the brim with clothing and supplies that would end up in Baltimore’s homeless shelters, or in the hands of Baltimore’s homeless people.

On the Giving Back website,, the organization explains their mission as having two parts. First, as volunteers they intend to bring high-quality supplies to those of the community in need. Second, they hope to make memories and provide experiences for the families who help make the program possible. The people who are given backpacks and food are so thankful, and the interactions between them and the volunteers are exactly what create those experiences people will take with them the rest of their lives.

“I’ve been participating in Giving Back with my family for the past five years, and each year I have had a very enriching, unique experience. The people in the shelters that we visit are so appreciative and the joy that we are able to bring them reflects what Christmas is all about. It’s become my favorite part of the holiday,” noted Severna Park High School graduate Kat Gowland.

This brings the mission full circle, going back to what Christmas really means in the community. The volunteers don’t look at it as giving up their Christmas Eve plans. Instead, it’s a way for them to embrace the generosity and spirit of the holidays. Giving Back is an opportunity for families to help and connect with people they most likely would not have met otherwise. “The people we met on the streets were friendly and more talkative than I had expected. Many of them turned down the food but all were excited to get a coat and the backpacks with warm clothes inside,” said first-time participant and local mother Ruthellen Sheldon.

Some may have been a bit hesitant to step outside their holiday traditions and observe a completely different way of living, but the experience has been deemed worthwhile by an increasing number of returning volunteers. It all started with a hat, but it has become a plethora of coats and food and supplies. Thanks to an overwhelming number of volunteers, Linda’s Legacy continues on.

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Jeanette Sudano