Dinner with Linda

November 26, 1992

Two years ago, Crownsville's Linda Greenberg invited 250 people to Thanksgiving dinner.

Last year, she expanded the guest list to 500.

Today, the county's most relentless doer of good deeds is expecting 1,000 to show up at Camp Letts in Mayo to feast on turkey, pumpkin pie and anything else she can coerce volunteers into bringing.

If you're one of those people who has nowhere to go for Thanksgiving, it's worth the trip to Mayo. Though every year the frenetic Mrs. Greenberg appears to bite off more than she can chew, she's proven she can deliver on plans for these holiday extravaganzas.

Her strategy -- whereby she announces she will feed some enormous number of people, then badgers volunteer organizations, businesses and the local media until they agree to help -- may annoy some. But it works.

For today's feast, Mrs. Greenberg has five florists donating hundreds of carnations. (This is something new. She likes each year's dinner to be more grandiose than the one before.)

The Arundel High Key Club is bringing 40 turkeys, and the Heritage Harbor seniors are baking 50 pies. The wives of the Washington Capitals are donating formula and diapers, a county Civitan club is sending members dressed as Pilgrims and Indians, and a Baltimore minister is supposed to play the trumpet.

Granted, it's a little offbeat, a far cry from gathering around the dining room table with the folks and watching the Dallas Cowboys on TV.

But for a growing number of county residents Thanksgiving doesn't mean a big dinner at home any more.

Organizations like Helping Hand and Holiday Sharing can't keep up with the demand for Thanksgiving food baskets and sponsors to donate meals to the needy. They say the demand for help is greater now than it was last year, despite signs that the economy is about to improve.

They also remind us that the need for food isn't seasonal, though the spirit of giving unfortunately is. The summers are especially bad times for those trying to assist the poor. In August, the Anne Arundel County food bank had to stage a special food drive because supplies got so low.

Not everyone has the time to do what Linda Greenberg has done, which is essentially turn her life into a crusade for the less fortunate. But it wouldn't hurt any of us to imitate her spirit, not just now, but all through the year.

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