'TIS THE SEASON TO BE JOLLY — but for many people, this Christmas will be an especially difficult time. The bad economy has cast a somber cloud over many activities, but the spirit of giving during the holidays will survive.
Pasadena, like many other suburban communities, is holding its own. Getting lean but never mean.
There are too many caring people for that to ever happen. Individuals in churches, schools and in little pockets up and down the peninsula are coming together to help their neighbors.
Here are a few listings of collections that will be happening in December. If your group is not listed and would like to be included, please call and let me know.
* Members of the Optimist Club of Mountain Road will be out in force this weekend and next, collecting food for their annual Christmas Food Drive. Normally, the group collects only from shoppers at Angel's Market, but this year is expanding the drive to Lauer's Super Thrift on Edwin Raynor Boulevard.
"It is hard enough to put food on the table, let alone think of putting presents under a Christmas tree, so if we can ease some of this burden with a few cases of food, then we have fulfilled our purpose," said MRO President John O'Hara.
In past years, 20 food baskets were distributed. But this year,the group is expanding the Food Drive to try to help 50 area families.
Donations will be accepted at Angel's Market from 6 to 9 p.m. today; 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. tomorrow and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8.
Next weekend, the drive will continue at Angel's and start at Lauer's Super Thrift during the following hours: 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec.13; 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14; and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday,Dec. 15.
* The Pasadena Roller Skating Center, 2318 Mountain Road, is sponsoring a Feed the Hungry night from 7 to 10 p.m. Monday, Dec. 9.
Admission is a donation of canned or boxed non-perishable food. All food collected will be given to the Severna Park Assistance Network, which provides help to needy families in the Pasadena and Severna Park communities.
"We have been collecting food from the community for eight years now, but this year, more than ever, we wanted tohelp out," said rink manager Vera Kane.
For more details, call the center at 437-3636.
* Now through Dec. 17, the Human Relations Committee at Solley Elementary is collecting canned goods, new (or used but still in good condition) toys and books that will be wrapped and given to needy families in the area.
The response was so overwhelming last year, with more than 2,000 toys and books donated, that the school, anticipating another record turnout, needs wrapping paper, bows, tags and tape so students can wrap the gifts for Christmas giving.
If you can help, contact the school at 255-0530.
* Northeast PTSA's Caring and Sharing Program will be collecting canned goods during two upcoming events at the school.
Items can be donated at the Dec. 13 boys varsity basketball game or at the 7 p.m. Holiday Music Concert on Dec. 19 in the school auditorium.
Collected items will be donated to individual families in the area and to the Harvest for the Hungry program.
More than 30 students in the Maryland'sTomorrow program at Northeast will take caring and sharing out into the community when they visit patients at North Arundel Convalescent Center next week.
PTSA President Carlene Heilman said students andchaperones will be visiting the center Dec. 10. They have adopted three residents from the center's Wishing Tree program and will be bringing presents, cookies and good cheer to patients for the holidays.
The Human Relations Committee at Sunset Elementary will sponsor its annual Winter Bake Sale Dec. 10, following the evening Holiday Program.
Once again, parents, teachers and friends of Sunset will have been busy baking homemade goodies to be sold. Proceeds help to support Grandparents Day, Kite Day, Good Citizens, a new student breakfast program and the essay contest at the school.
* Sunset spokesman Veronica Williams said the community fully supported last month's "Have a Heart for Veterans" program at the school.
More than five large boxes of items were donated and have been delivered to the patients at Fort Howard Veteran's Hospital.
The results of the October PSAT will be distributed to junior and sophomore students at Northeast High School during a special program set to begin at 7 p.m. Dec. 16 in the media center.
In addition to returning and interpreting the PSAT scores, the program will also include important information on choosing a college.
"The program is especially valuable to parents of current 10th- and 11th-grade students," said counselor Suzanne Kaufman. "They should begin planning for post-secondary education now, and we encourage parents attending with their student."
Parents interested in attending should contact the guidance office at 437-6400 by Dec. 10.