Charities need more food, gifts for needy families

November 22, 1992|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff Writer

More people than ever are asking for help to put a Thanksgiving dinner on the family table, and most of them are being turned down.

The most encouraging news one local agency has is that it at least guarantees help at Christmas for all 771 families who have asked so far.

Also, it isn't too late for people to donate money for food, although it will be too late by Tuesday.

Anyone who may wish to donate $25 toward gift certificates for the families who were turned down should call Human Services Programs Inc. tomorrow at 857-2999.

Neighbors in Need is an annual clearinghouse for holiday drives every fall and winter in Carroll County. It is coordinated by Human Services Programs in Westminster, a private, non-profit agency that helps low-income people.

Of the 771 Carroll families who have asked for some kind of holiday-related help this year, 595 included a request for a Thanksgiving basket of food, said Lynda Gainor, deputy director of the agency.

But donors came forward for only 172 families, she said. Another 50 people (15 to 20 families) will receive certificates for a buffet Thursday at the Sizzler Restaurant in Westminster, donated by the owners.

A surprise, last-minute donation Friday from the students of Westminster High School will feed another 25 families, said Mindy Orr, adviser to the National Honor Society chapter at the school.

The Honor Society members, led by seniors Jennifer Binford and Joy Bullock, raised about $1,300 by collecting loose change from classmates. They will donate $600 for Thanksgiving and the rest for Christmas.

Because of food basket programs run by the Mount Airy Jaycees and St. Michael's Church, the southwest part of the county is taking care of its own this year, Mrs. Gainor said.

"Everyone in Mount Airy who needs help is getting it," she said. "Elsewhere, it's not so nice." She said Neighbors in Need focuses more on Christmas by receiving donations of new toys, clothes and other gifts, as well as food baskets, then distributing them to families.

"We almost guarantee that if you need help, we can help you then," she said. "If they need help for Thanksgiving, I don't know what to tell them to do."

Anyone wishing to donate toward Christmas may drop off food and gifts between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. at the National Guard Armory on Hahn Road in Westminster on Tuesday, or call Human Services to arrange another time.

Last year, Neighbors in Need helped a total 965 families. Although the requests so far have not reached that number, Mrs. Gainor expects them to surpass it by the time baskets and gifts are given away Dec. 22.

"We're getting a lot of requests from people who've never asked for help before," she said.

So far, 250 of the families who have asked for help are new names that haven't used the program before, Mrs. Gainor said.

Volunteers will be sorting the donations in a vacant store space donated by Cranberry Mall. Neighbors in Need also will maintain an information table at the mall, near the Santa display in the center court.

Other families or individuals who want to sign up for help should go through any social service agency they might already be using and ask for a referral to Neighbors in Need.

Families also can be referred by their local school if they ask a teacher or counselor. Those who are not connected with any agency or school should contact Mrs. Gainor directly.

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