In the beginning, very few were aware of the amazing success story behind the West Annapolis Pop Up Pantry (WAPP); a grass-roots organization started to help provide groceries to those directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as word spread of the WAPP’S good deeds, WBAL-TV picked it up and a spate of news articles began running across social media. Then, the top-rated NBC Today Show came calling to run a segment on its morning edition. Suddenly, everyone wanted to know more about the women behind the masks. Who was this dynamic duo who spent the last four months acting as role models for an ever-increasing corps of volunteers and community churches eager to help?
The Face Behind the Mask
Enter Diana Love, who originated the project when a landscaper who had worked in her West Annapolis neighborhood died of COVID-19. He left behind a wife and family who quickly found themselves without a provider. Soon after, she learned of other similar stories and realized the burgeoning number of families left behind in COVID-19’s path of destruction.
Diana Love and Amy Marshall
Love reached out through Facebook to spread the word of the needs of the Hispanic Community, asking for volunteers as well as contributions of food, dairy products and diapers. One of the first to heed the call to action was Amy Marshall. She was a friend and mother of four, who quickly offered her empty Airbnb as a storage site for the donations that Love was storing on her property. Love and Marshall, who met while their daughters were attending elementary school together; quickly became a tireless team. The need for WAPP’s services soon surpassed what the two women could do in their spare time, as they soon found themselves working at the pantry 40-60 hours per week!
West Annapolis Pop Up Pantry
Through an Anne Arundel County Public Schools social worker, the women were connected with a list of approximately 240 families in need, including several new mothers. “Once again our community responded, and we were able to host several baby showers on their front lawns,” says Love, noting that 25 percent of the Annapolis population is Hispanic/LatinX. “Amy and I decided to help this community directly,” she says. “But although we may be leading the charge, it’s our 60-plus volunteers and the generosity of our partners that makes it work.”
How You Can Help WAPP
Many local families are receiving critical help from WAPP. Love estimates that she devotes 40-60 hours a week to managing the different facets of the operation. However, flexibility is essential. “It’s definitely a full-time job – one that requires constant pivoting,” says Love. “I speak with our core group of 120 families multiple times each week – I know their problems, their needs. I come across women who can’t read, and we laugh because I don’t speak Spanish well…but we make it through and I love that,”
So I ask the same question of Love and of Marshall. “How much longer can you keep doing what you’re doing?” Neither of them has a firm answer. “Through the New Year, at the minimum,” Love responds. “As long as we can,” muses Marshall.
Truly inspiring! To volunteer or donate please follow them on Facebook.
(The Face Behind the Mask: is a series of blogs dedicated to those making a difference in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County during the COVID-19 Pandemic.) For more articles like this, click here.