East Baltimore children make dreams come true The gift of giving

December 13, 1993|By Linell Smith | Linell Smith,Staff Writer

This Christmas, Jewel Bennett set her charitable goals high: to teach children in her East Baltimore neighborhood the rewards of helping needy families.

Ten youngsters, ranging in ages from 8 to 12, signed up for her course: Ann Jones, Gail Callaway, Kelly Binns, Rudolph Walker, Steven Smith, Zakiya Simms, Danielle Rigby, LaTrice Callaway, Lennora Jones and Shawntria Cox.

They named themselves Children With a Dream -- and got right down to work orchestrating a series of community fund-raisers. They sold sticky apples, twice. They sold chicken wing dinners. They made and sold jewelry. They held a 50/50 raffle. There was even a one-night "wakeathon" in which they asked for a minimum pledge of 10 cents for each hour they could stay awake.

And they have raised $504 for the children in two needy families identified through the Mrs. Santa adopt-a-family campaign, a program which the Afro-American newspaper has sponsored for more than 40 years. So far, they have purchased a Christmas tree with decorations, toys, clothing and shoes. "They've been on a mission," says Miss Bennett, who works as a data processor for the state's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

"I think it's nice to help other families that are less fortunate to have a nice Christmas," says 11-year-old Latrice Callaway, a sixth-grader at Canton Middle School. "It wouldn't feel right if we were to have a nice Christmas and there were a whole lot of other people looking sad. It just wouldn't feel right."

A lot of us agree. The following is a list of organizations and programs that aid needy families. Though many of these charities operate year round, they often receive more requests about how to make donations or to use volunteer help at this time of year. Financial contributions are always welcome.

* Mrs. Santa campaign, sponsored by the Afro-American, will help more than 500 needy families in Baltimore this year chosen from lists supplied by various organizations, churches, civic groups and communities.

Each Friday, the newspaper runs a list of cases describing the special needs of families. The newspaper then links up interested callers with the families they wish to sponsor. The program also needs volunteers to help deliver gifts and baskets of food. For details, call (410) 554-8200.

* Maryland Food Committee, 2521 N. Charles St., is accepting donations of infant foodstuffs such as infant formula, juices and cereal. No milk, please. For details, call (410) 366-0600.

* St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center is accepting donations of turkeys and nonperishable food items as well as toys and gifts for children up to the age of 18 through Dec. 16. St. Ambrose will distribute the donations to 255 needy families it serves throughout the city. The program, which helps people with low incomes to find affordable housing, serves many disabled people as well as those with AIDS. Deliveries can be made to the center, 321 E. 25th St. For details, call (410) 366-8550.

* Santa Claus Anonymous, founded in 1934, raises money to buy gift certificates -- redeemable for children's clothing and toys only -- to needy families identified by the Department of Social Services. It has reached 40 percent of its goal of raising $500,000 to serve 50,695 children in the metropolitan area. Volunteers are needed for the fund-raising drive. Mail contributions to Santa Claus Anonymous, Carrollton Bank, 2 Charles Plaza, Baltimore 21201. For details, call (410) 685-4830.

* Toys for Tots, a national campaign to aid needy children, is accepting unwrapped toys and clothing at various drop-off points until Dec. 20. Boxes are at Exxon stations, Jiffy Lube, Luskin's and Value Food stores. Toys also are accepted at the Toys for Tots warehouse, 2413 Oakleigh Ave. in Perring Park shopping center. The drive, run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, distributed 28,000 toys last year. This year's goal is 60,000 toys. For details, call (410) 668-8142.

* The Salvation Army is accepting used toys, clothing and furniture at its adult rehabilitation center, 2250 Gable Ave. New toys, canned goods and other nonperishable foods can be brought to the Baltimore area command, 2602 Huntingdon Ave. The organization will serve 1,000 needy families which it already has selected. For details, call (410) 366-4898.

* Family and Children's Services of Central Maryland, 204 W. Lanvale St., tries to provide presents for their clients' children. More than 100 still need gifts. The organization also serves many elderly people who need warm bathrobes, sleepwear and outerwear. Other needs include infant disposable diapers, adult diapers and waterproof bed underpads for the elderly. For details, call (410) 669-9000.

* Health Care for the Homeless, 111 Park Ave., needs personal care items (such as toothbrushes, deodorant, combs, wash cloths and toothpaste) and warm clothing such as gloves, sweat pants and men's long underwear. For details, call (410) 837-5533.

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