Needy get brief bounty

December 22, 1992|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff Writer

For Janet Boyd, helping "neighbors in need" is a family tradition.

So Ms. Boyd, the director of E.S.C.A.P.E. Inc. of Sykesville, was among dozens of volunteers yesterday who helped distribute packages of food, clothing and toys to hundreds of needy Carroll County families at Cranberry Mall in Westminster.

"I remember helping my father deliver food baskets for the Lions Club 25 or 30 years ago," recalled Ms. Boyd, whose own children are now community service volunteers. "We delivered to people in three-sided shacks. You don't see that any more but the need is still there."

For example, the annual "Neighbors in Need" program, coordinated by Human Services Programs Inc. in Westminster, will provide Christmas dinner trimmings and gifts to 1,026 families in Carroll. Last year, Neighbors in Need helped 965 families.

About 400 families picked up goodies at the mall yesterday. Helping to pass out donations were volunteers from Carroll County Food Sunday, the Salvation Army, Taneytown Caring and Sharing Ministries, E.S.C.A.P.E. (Enabling Social and Church Advocacy for People Enrichment), Shepherd's Staff and NESAP, the Northeast Social Action Program.

"We're serving people that were laid off, disabled -- people who have come on hard times," said Lynda Gainor, deputy director of the Human Services Programs, a private, non-profit agency that

helps low-income people. "Some of them are Social Services clients."

Other families will receive food and gifts through adopt-a-family programs sponsored by county fraternal and non-profit groups, Ms. Gainor said.

Neighbors in Need -- through community food and gift drives -- provided families with vouchers for milk, eggs, bread and poultry and boxes containing canned goods and cereal.

The volunteers also handed out gifts, coats and stocking stuffers.

"We've given them enough food for a good meal at Christmas plus some staples for the shelf. We know they'll be hungry after Christmas, too," Ms. Gainor said.

Neighbors in Need, an annual clearing house for holiday drives every fall and winter, spent about $40 on each needy child, picking up necessities such as clothing, mittens and shoes, and some toys, Ms. Gainor said.

Toy guns and military playthings were excluded unless they were specifically requested.

The agencies, Ms. Gainor said, also tried to spend $10 on each parent. Many families requested essentials, such as clothes, winter wear, pots and pans and towels.

"Most requests were very minimal," Ms. Gainor said. "Nobody was asking for luxury items. We had a lot of requests for underwear, socks and school supplies."

Few luxury items were distributed. Four children received new bicycles because of a business donation. No Nintendo games or other such items were given out, she said.

"For a lot of people, we met their specific needs," Ms. Gainor said.

Recipients such as Patsy Keeney of Westminster stopped by vacant store space at the mall to pick up boxes of food for Christmas dinner. Ms. Keeney, a 45-year-old grandmother, also found toys and gloves for her grandchildren.

"I think this is real nice," said Ms. Keeney, who said the donations would help make a better Christmas. "I like this."

Volunteers said they found satisfaction in helping others.

Michael Johnson, a 17-year-old Francis Scott Key High senior, was among the members of the school's Varsity Club who helped cart goods to recipients' cars.

"I think being here shows all of us how good we really have it," he said. "There are a lot of people who are less fortunate it than we are. This puts things in perspective."

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