The real spirit of Christmas ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY

December 24, 1992

For all its splendors, the holiday season lends itself t disillusionment. The build-up is too great, the expectations too high. The reality almost never matches the myth.

We dream of white Christmases, but it never snows. We sing of peace while relatives squabble around the dinner table. We take the spirit of giving to a mall and lose it among the crowds.

And yet, there is reason to believe.

From Brooklyn Park to Rosehaven, hundreds of ordinary people are working without thought of reward to make Christmas truly a time of generosity and goodwill. We take this opportunity to pay tribute to all those who have fed someone hungry, given a needy child a toy or come up with some quirky, individual way to make the season as joyful as it should be.

Who are these people?

They're the students at South River High School, who, led by the National Honor Society, collected more than 1,500 cans of food.

They're volunteers for Baltimore Goodwill Industries, who came to Severn and gave away 375 pairs of shoes to Anne Arundel children.

The shoe giveaway was a poignant reminder of how comparatively little most of us have to complain about. These children were more happy to get shoes -- for some, their only present -- than many children are with extravagant gifts.

Crownsville dynamo Linda Greenberg has been collecting food, toys and clothing for the needy for 10 years. She's at it again, badgering people for donations right up until Christmas.

Members of the Emmanuel Lutheran Church of Stoney Creek built a 4-foot by 8-foot model train layout, complete with two snowy villages and two locomotives and worth $2,500. The train set will be raffled off, with proceeds going for food for the homeless.

In Glen Burnie, where residents are mourning the death of perennial Santa William Padfield, Chick Schulz vowed to take over as Santa, continuing his predecessor's annual Christmas Eve ride through town. "There's too many kids depending on it to stop now," he said.

So forget the snow and mistletoe. The real spirit of Christmas lies not with them, but with all the people who have done their part to make some small piece of the world a better place.

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