Nonprofit to spend holidays at mall

Neighbors in Need to set up shop in Carroll center

November 04, 2001|By Maria Blackburn | Maria Blackburn,SUN STAFF

Neighbors in Need is no longer in need of a new home for the holidays.

The nonprofit group, which provides Carroll families with new clothes and toys in December, has struck a deal with TownMall of Westminster.

The charity will begin moving into an 8,000-square-foot store this month.

The site formerly was occupied by SERRV International gift shop.

"We can start singing `Jingle Bells,'" said Pat D. Kennedy, community resource specialist for Human Services Programs of Carroll County Inc. "This has put us all in the holiday spirit."

Neighbors in Need accepts donations of new adults' and children's clothing and toys for distribution to hundreds of families during the holiday season. Last year, the program helped 1,171 families.

Last month, the program's organizers were fearful that they might not be able to offer their full services this year because of their inability to find an appropriate space. "That would have been a real loss," Kennedy said.

In March, the nonprofit group was forced to vacate its donated storefront in Westminster Shopping Center at Englar Road and Route 140. The owner of the property, Washington Real Estate Investment Trust of Kensington, was preparing the 14,670-square-foot storefront for a new tenant.

Since then, Neighbors in Need has stored its toys, winter jackets and other items in two tractor-trailers.

The group's organizers had considered several dozen sites for the program, but couldn't find anything that met their criteria.

They were looking for at least 10,000 square feet of free, handicapped-accessible space for December.

After speaking with mall representatives last week, their search was over. As a temporary tenant of TownMall, Neighbors in Need will pay only for utilities.

"We're thrilled," said mall spokeswoman Peggy Funk. "We happen to have this space for a short amount of time, and we're always looking for ways to reach out to the community."

Neighbors in Need allows eligible families to shop for gifts during two days in December.

Families are paired with a volunteer "elf," who guides them through the store.

How much a family receives varies according to financial need, but each person may select a new article of clothing, and each child receives about $35 worth of new toys. The group is still seeking volunteers and donations for the holiday season. Information: Neighbors in Need, 410-857-2999.

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