Christmas Spirit in April

March 19, 1992

April is the dandiest of months. It is full of renewal. Flowers bloom into a new season, infecting people with the optimism of sunlight. There are chores to be done, for sure, such as cleaning the house and the barbecue grill. But no one minds a bit of extra work because the ups and downs of winter are finally over.

Thousands of Marylanders are gearing up for extra work on April 25, when the third annual Christmas in April will take place here. Part of a national drive to aid help needy neighbors in the American barnraising tradition, this year's event will send volunteers, supervised by building professionals, to fix up the houses of scores of homeowners throughout the state.

Seventy-seven homeowners in the Remington area of Baltimore City and the East Towson neighborhood of Baltimore County will have their houses repaired. In Howard County, more than two dozen homeowners will have volunteers fixing porches, installing doors and repairing gutters and downspouts. Similar drives are held in Montgomery and Prince George's counties.

The Christmas in April is supported entirely by voluntary contributions of time, materials and money. Funds will come from corporations, individuals, labor unions, foundations, trade and civic organizations, churches and synagogues.

The Christmas in April concept sprang up in Midland, Tex., and has been steadily growing. When the first Christmas in April was held in Baltimore in 1990, not even a day-long heavy downpour discouraged hundreds of volunteers from descending on a group of homes near Coppin State College.

About 2,500 volunteers participated in last year's drive in the city, which fixed up 65 homes in the Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello and Better Waverly neighborhoods of Northeast Baltimore. This year promises to be even bigger.

"We are now recruiting organizations that will adopt an individual home by contributing $1,500 and volunteer workers," said the Baltimore campaign's president, Howard Hunt. Information about the Christmas in April drive can be obtained by calling 321-7870.

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