Linda Greenberg's lifestyle is far-removed from the problems of the poor. But for nine years, the Annapolis businesswoman has led an effort to help the homeless. Once again, she and her family will be collecting donations of toys and goods this weekend in Crownsville.
Greenberg and her husband, David, have what might be considered the ideal life. They live on a farm between Annapolis and Crownsville with their two sons, who are enrolled in private school.
Both Greenbergs head their own businesses. He is the owner of Greenberg Jewelers in Brooklyn Park. She is the owner of Cheerio Inc. London Coach Limousine Service in Annapolis.
Nine years ago, Linda Greenberg recalled, "I was watching the Donahue show and there was this young boy who used to go out into the streets of Philadelphia with his father to beg.
"I looked at my own two boys coming down the stairs, dressed in their nice warm pajamas. I looked at all we had, and I felt such rage and guilt.
"I became committed then. I knew I had to help," Greenberg said, referring to her on-going campaign for the poor.
"I come from a very philanthropic family," Greenberg said. "My mother was very concerned with the homeless. Both my mother and father were very generous people.
"I can remember [my mother] telling me to give my sweater to a kid who had no sweater and was cold. I've always believed that there but for the grace of God go you and I," she said.
Greenberg's commitment to helping the homeless keeps her constantly on the telephone, calling anyone and everyone she knows, seeking donations. Her efforts seem never-ending.
"We just finished Thanksgiving," Greenberg said. "We served twice as many people as last year.
"I also get sponsors to send about 40 kids to camp during the summer. That's $390 per kid. So you see that's why I need more help. I can't go back to those same people. But there are so many out there who need help."
Throughout this weekend, Greenberg and her helpers will be accepting donations for her ninth annual drive for the homeless.
Two 25-foot trucks will be parked at the Fiddlers Green parking lot at 1355 Generals Highway in Crownsville to collect food and clothing.
Drop-off times are 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. today, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. tomorrow and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Then on Monday, Greenberg and helpers will distribute the food and clothing at shelters in Baltimore.
Greenberg needs fruit, candies, snack foods and sodas, back-packs, sleeping bags and three-ply garbage bags. "I desperately need [diapers], formula, blankets new and old, clothes new and old, and toys," she said. "Lots of toys."
"There's one shelter I visit that has about 80 kids. I was the only one they saw last year, the only one to bring them something for Christmas," Greenberg said.
Greenberg said that despite the current recession, people were generous in their giving for the Thanksgiving dinner she sponsored for the homeless. She said she is hopeful the public will continue to be generous this Christmas.
"People are busy going to the mall, and they're all wrapped up in the glitter of Christmas when the true essence is helping," Greenberg said. "If they gave to the homeless, then they would have the greatest Christmas. They would have the greatest gift."