The regional program providing the needy with food, toys, clothes, school supplies and other basic items during the holiday season expects to serve about 1,000 Carroll families for Thanksgiving and Christmas, nearly one-third more than in 1990.
Neighbors in Need, administered here by Human Services Programs of Carroll County Inc., has received applications from more than 600 county families for Thanksgivingmeals this year, said Lynda Gainor, HSP deputy director.
Even with the increased demand, Gainor said she expected all clients would receive help, but the Christmas boxes packed with food and gifts may contain less than last year.
"I expect everyone will getsomething," she said.
Last year, the program served 765 differentfamilies -- 2,093 people -- for both holidays, she said. Some families received help on both occasions.
The Thanksgiving meals will besponsored by county businesses, families, and service, church and youth groups that "adopt" needy families. Many will deliver the dinnersto the adopted families' homes. As of last week, about 150 families had not been matched with donors, said Gainor.
"I'm a little worried," she said. "We have more people who have asked for help, and most of our old stand-bys have called in (to volunteer for adoption). Some others we haven't heard from."
She said some individuals and businesses that had assisted in the past hadn't volunteered as of the week before Thanksgiving, adding that she planned to contact them to request their help. Still, some people might not receive Thanksgiving dinners if matches aren't formed, she said.
As of last week, 181 donors had volunteered their services, including 42 families, 35 businesses, 33 church groups, 21 community groups and 11 school groups, Gainor said.
Most families receiving help are referred by the county Department of Social Services, Health Department, Food Sunday and other government and non-profit human service agencies, she said. The program is coordinating its efforts with groups such as Shepherd's Staff, Taneytown Caring & Sharing and The Salvation Army.
Neighbors in Need accepts all referrals because it does not have the staff to evaluate all clients, she said.
"These are not people who are trying to cheat," Gainor said. "A lot of people might have been doing OK last year, but need help this year.
"Some don't look like they're in poverty. They might live in a home that looks OK, but that doesn't mean they can provide a holiday meal or buy gifts."
Several businesses and individuals are helping many families. Sizzler Restaurants of Westminster is providing dinner for 75 people who have received priorinvitation. An anonymous donor has contributed 250 vouchers for $25 each to be used at Weis Markets, Gainor said.
Any individuals or groups who wish to adopt families for Neighbors in Need's Christmas drive should call HSP at 857-2999 before Dec. 6. Donors may contribute items or services of their choice to assist needy families.
Other organizations providing assistance for Thanksgiving include:
* The Westminster Rescue Mission, a 36-bed facility that helps men with alcohol and drug problems. WRM planned to give out 52 food baskets for the poor containing turkeys and canned goods for a Thanksgiving dinner on Tuesday night. It served about 69 people last year, said The Rev. William M. Correll III, executive director. "We're always open to help someone in an emergency or with a food basket," he said. For information, call 848-2222.
* The Mount Airy Jaycees, which planned todeliver 27 dinners to needy families in the area. The Jaycees also donates items such as sugar, pancake mix, syrup, fruit, soap, laundry detergent and dish soap.
* Gary's Widows Inc., a group of about 25elderly women based in Sykesville, which has adopted four South Carroll families from the Neighbors in Need program.
* Meals on Wheelsof Central Maryland Inc., Carroll chapter, which delivers meals to about 100 homebound clients daily. The agency serves fewer clients on Thanksgiving because many of the homebound have dinner with family, said program administrator Gail Burton. Traditional holiday meals willbe accompanied by "tray favors," or decorations, made by Brownies and Girl Scout troops. Those wishing to qualify for Meals on Wheels weekday service throughout the year can apply by phone by calling 857-4447.
* The Westminster Jaycees collected canned goods during a dance the group conducted Saturday at the Armory. The food will be sent to the city's new homeless shelter on Railroad Avenue in time for Thanksgiving. The new shelter holds about 30 people.