More people are asking for help than are offering it this Thanksgiving, although Carroll charities and churches are trying to ensure some joy for the increasing numbers of needy residents.
Some 200 families will get food baskets through various Carroll agencies, and another 25 will be offered a free meal at the Sizzler restaurant in Westminster tomorrow.
But some people asking for help for Thanksgiving won't get it, said Lynda Gainor, deputy director for Human Services Programs Inc., a private, non-profit agency acting as a clearinghouse for donors and needy families this holiday season.
Gainor said the agency still needs volunteers to help drive families to Sizzler, which is donating the free meal for the second year in a row.
People willing to help drive can call her before 4 p.m. today at 857-6242. And although most spaces at Sizzler will have been filled today, families can call Gainor to get an invitation.
On the brighter side, Gainor said probably all families needing help at Christmas will get a basket of food and some presents for children, because more people and groups offer to help at that time.
Still, the number of those asking for help is likely to far surpass last year's total of 587 for Thanksgiving and Christmas. So far, 423 families have asked for help, with another month to go, Gainor said. All the families asked for help at Christmas, and about half also asked for Thanksgiving baskets, she said.
Gainor said the total requests will probably be higher than the 650 the agency has projected by Christmas.
Gainor said some of the increase can be due to an increase in the agency's role as a clearinghouse for people who may have sought help directly from churches or schools before.
"But I also think it's the economy. People are just realizing it's going to be harder this year," she said. She pointed to increased numbers of applicants for welfare and Aid to Families with Dependent Children in Carroll and statewide.
Many who seek help around the holidays are "working poor" who aren't on welfare, but still are having trouble making ends meet, she said.
Any individuals or groups willing to adopt a family for Thanksgiving or Christmas may contact Gainor, who can give them a handout describing a typical basket.
Also, staff from the agency will be stationed at Cranberry Mall Friday through Sunday to sign up donors for the Neighbors in Need program to adopt families for Christmas.
Among the agencies offering food baskets or meals for Thanksgiving are: * Carroll County Food Sunday will make sure no one who comes to them goes hungry, but won't be able to give out anything special for Thanksgiving this year, said executive officer Paul Martin of Taylorsville.
For the past four years, the volunteer-run agency has given away turkeys and chickens donated by area businesses and churches, but this year no one offered the birds, Martin said.
"It's been a rough year, so we just don't have any money to buy them," Martin said.
* The Westminster Rescue Mission handed out about 50 food baskets to area families at a service last night. The mission sends word out early in the fall in its newsletter to churches, service clubs and residents to let them know the baskets are available. The mission uses a combination of donated canned goods and buys the turkeys and any other foods to round out each basket, said assistant director Gladys Correll.
* Loaves and Fishes Free Meal, a joint venture by area churches, will keep to its regular schedule noon to 1 p.m. today at the Ascension Episcopal Church, 23 N. Court St., Westminster. However, there will be no Thursday meal at St. Paul United Church of Christ, which conducted its Thanksgiving Day Loaves and Fishes Meal yesterday.
* ESCAPE Inc., a coalition of 13 churches in South Carroll, gave out about 30 baskets of food yesterday to some of the families it has helped with emergency services during the past year.
* Taneytown Jaycees is giving out 38 food baskets to town residents referred to it by Human Services Programs. The Taneytown Kiwanis Club will give out food baskets to those families at Christmas. Gainor said these two clubs probably will have covered all requests from the town.
* In the Hampstead-Manchester area, a church and a business pooled efforts to help about 25 families.
Immanuel Lutheran Church in Manchester is giving baskets to 12 families, and the two Jos. A. Bank plants will help six or seven families each, she said.
* Mount Airy Jaycees will distribute 12 food baskets to families referred by Human Services, plus 16 more to families referred to them by other sources.
* St. Michael's Church in Mount Airy will give out baskets to eight families through Human Services.
* Students at East Middle School collected donations to feed six families referred by Human Service Programs.
* Brownie Troop 408, Cub Scout Pack 49 and Girl Scout Troop 593 each adopted a family and provided them with the makings of a Thanksgiving dinner.
* Meals on Wheels will serve only about 25 of its 100 regular clients on Thanksgiving Day, because the agency encourages families to include the homebound.