THE KENNEDY Institute has helped thousands of children since it opened in 1967. Benefiting disabled children for a lifetime is what the institute is all about.
Volunteers help year-round at the institute, but for eight days in December, there is a need for at least 100 each day.
Help is needed for the ''Festival of Trees'' fund-raiser to be held at Festival Hall from Dec. 8 through Dec. 15.
Proceeds will benefit the Kennedy Institute, where research, treatment and evaluation have touched more than 6,000 children and adolescents from around the world with inpatient and outpatient services. Its many services include a Pediatric Brain Injury Unit, the first in Maryland; a Severe Behavior Unit to treat children with mental retardation or autism; a school for learning disabled; community programs and job training for the handicapped.
The institute, 707 N. Broadway, is professionally affiliated with, but financially independent from, the Johns Hopkins Hospital and School of Medicine.
At Festival Hall, a display of 70 silk trees, 10 feet tall, will be the center display all decorated by professional designers for local corporations and surrounded by smaller trees and an aisle of wreaths, by local florists and garden clubs.
Volunteer Suzanne Twells will need help in the shop area. She is in charge of the Secret Santa Shop for children, the craft, gift and bake shops. Twells heard about the Festival of Trees from her sister-in-law, Sally Michael, and ''I also felt the need to volunteer because I have friends whose children had been helped there.
''Also, I've been lucky to get four of my friends, Amy Elias, Margo Randolph, Ann Phelps and Sallie McDavid, who are helping. Plans for the Festival of Trees began in February and we have worked on it all summer,'' she says.
Volunteer Peggi Ambler has taken on the job of organizing the entire physical setup of the festival and will need volunteer help in every area.
Ambler and her husband, Bruce, president of Constellation Holdings, came to this area about a year ago from Philadelphia. Her interest in the Kennedy Institute came ''when we took a tour there and I wanted to stay all day I was so impressed with the work being done. I knew then I'd put my energies into something as positive as that,'' she says.
For many reasons, says Ambler, excitement is running high with those who have worked on the event. ''For one thing, it has been a fun community effort, and it is that time of the year when giving and sharing become extra important. The Festival of Trees imparts that whole holiday feeling, and I am sure those who visit it or who volunteer to help us will sense this feeling,'' she says.
Entertainment will be constant at the event, and the Kennedy Institute will have a display for visitors to learn more about the work done there. Opening ceremonies are 11 a.m. Saturday. The fair will be open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 8-15. Admission is $3 general and $1.50 seniors and children under 12. Discount coupons are at Crown stations. Festival details, 332-4191.
If you will volunteer to the Festival of Trees, call 550-9460 before Dec. 1.