Linda Finiff's goodwill will make Christmas joyful and...


December 22, 1991|By Mary Corey

Linda Finiff's goodwill will make Christmas joyful and toy-full 0) for kids she's never met

Linda Finiff's basement resembles a Toys R Us stockroom more than a family den.

There are toy boxes lining the walls, baby dolls covering the coffee table and enough crayons to keep Crayola in business for decades.

But such is life for the 49-year-old Dundalk grandmother who has collected nearly $7,000 worth of toys for the Salvation Army's needy families.

As one of the organization's leading volunteers, Ms. Finiff has spent the last eight years making sure that children have gifts for the holidays. This year alone it took a van and truck to deliver her contribution -- 435 toys.

"There's never a goal in mind," she explains. "There's just this drive inside to do as much as you can for as many as you can."

To accomplish that, she's developed a network of friends and relatives to track sales, purchase items and mend damaged toys.

Her various hobbies -- reading, embroidery, playing the organ -- have become secondary to this pursuit. But while the Salvation Army has tried to introduce her to the beneficiaries of her good will, Ms. Finiff prefers to remain behind the scenes.

"It's enough to know when you get up on Christmas that children somewhere are doing all right," she says. He models. He paints. He breeds dogs, and he tends to his ailing parents.

Meet Michael Evans, renaissance man for the '90s.

One of the city's most successful black models, he -- and his well-toned 6-foot-1-inch physique -- has graced the pages of GQ as well as the runways of Paris.

But don't you dare, as schoolmates once did, call Mr. Evans a "pretty boy."

Posing for the camera, after all, is only one facet of his life. A self-taught artist, he also creates paper mosaics, one of which hangs in Patti Labelle's kitchen.

"People are beginning to see that models are not what they thought they were -- prima donnas. We're hard-working," says the 42-year-old, who lives in West Baltimore.

A late bloomer, he was 30 before he entered the business. At first, weighing a measly 138 pounds almost caused his demise.

"They told me they liked my look, but I needed to gain some weight. So I started having milkshakes every day," he says.

Thirty-two extra pounds later, he has a career that has allowed him to travel around the world.

His real love, however, is training show dogs. "They're like my kids," he says proudly of his two Sealyham terriers. "For me,

showing them is like sending them to college."

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