300 people share in holiday meal Insurers' group sponsors Columbia event

December 13, 1992|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Staff Writer

As Andre Owens held a forkful of mashed potatoes to his mouth yesterday afternoon, about 300 other people were also eating, thanks to the efforts of life insurance companies that do business in Howard County.

Mr. Owens, 21, of Long Reach Village, was among those who delighted in the Columbia-Howard County Association of Life Underwriters' Holiday Sharing Christmas dinner for the needy.

"It's pretty good," he said of the meal. "It's nice to see people doing things like this."

The unemployed man was thankful for the meal, at the Florence Bain Senior Center in the Village of Harper's Choice, where he was joined by his fiancee, Morgan Matter, 20, their 4-month-old daughter, Tonia, and four of his siblings.

"Right now, we're trying to get ourselves on our feet . . . and [trying] to get steady jobs," Mr. Owens said of his economic woes.

This was an important day for Tonia, too. "Tonia got to see Santa Claus for the first time and she was excited," he said.

The insurance underwriters' group prepared at least 18 turkeys, and provided a complete meal, including stuffing, carrots and apple pie. It was the eighth time the 100-member group had held the dinner, organizers said. Ken Williams, past president of the group and a member of the Clarksville Lions Club, said the volunteers fed about 50 percent more people this year than in 1991.

The Lions Club collected 600 coats that were made available to people at the dinner on a first-come, first-served basis, said Diane M. Fohl, who was in charge of the collection. "We're thrilled," Mrs. Fohl said. "We wanted to try and give [coats] to folks who needed them in the county."

The coat-giveaway demonstrated how many needy people there are in this wealthy county, she said, noting that only 119 were left after people took what they needed. Yolanda Jenkins, 27, a mother of two, got a wool coat for herself and a blue jacket for her oldest son, Gregory, 7. "I'm happy," she said, adding that the free coats will help her a lot.

State Del. Virginia Thomas, D-13th District, who worked as a volunteer server, praised the Lions Club and the Underwriters Association. "I think it means a lot to these people," she said, and the organizations that sponsored the meal and the coat collection should be congratulated.

Brenda Cochran, 32, of Wilde Lake, was among many who

benefited from the event.

Mrs. Cochran said the groups' efforts really meant a lot to her because she's unemployed, separated from her husband and struggling "to make ends meet."

"If I didn't get help with Christmas this year," Mrs. Cochran said, "I don't think we would have a Christmas," she said of herself and three children. "I think it's nice that they had it. . . . Look at how happy the kids are," she said, referring to her son, Danny, 4, as he pushed a yellow truck -- donated by the Glenelg Country School -- along the floor while playing with other youngsters.

The school donated about 150 mittens and gloves and an assortment of toys.

Taking a break from distributing gloves and toys, Adam Goss, 10, a fifth-grader at Glenelg , said he has volunteered at the dinner for the past three years.

"I just love to see people's happy faces when they get their toys and food," he said with a smile.

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