CHRISTMAS CHARITY lasts all year for tree designer and cheerleading coach Mary Anne Hoffman and her family.
For the past three years, Hoffman has helped design and create Christmas trees displayed and sold at the Festival of Trees benefit for Kennedy Krieger Institute.
This year, on behalf of her employer, Patient First, Hoffman designed an 8-foot tree sponsored by Deutsche Banc Alex.Brown. The theme of her tree was Winter Wonderland. It was decorated with more than 180 hand-made ornaments in colors of pearl white, crystal, silver, and light to medium greens.
Hoffman, of Sykesville, enlisted the help of her three children, Kelli, 18, JD, 15, and Jay, 12; her sisters Ellen Prete and Patty Uhlich; and a few co-workers to create the ornaments.
"I start thinking about the theme for the next tree right around Christmas," said Hoffman.
She has six months from Christmas to firm up her theme, she said. During this time she searches craft stores in Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland to gather necessary materials.
Once all the materials are purchased, Hoffman gets to work in her craft studio, a room in her home. Hoffman is a certified craft designer through the Society of Craft Designers.
This year, the festival had a new category for mini trees. Because Hoffman coaches cheerleading at Century High School, she encouraged her daughter JD and JD's friend Jen Langley, 15, both cheerleaders for Century High School, to design and decorate a tree. Their tree had megaphones and stars representing the cheerleaders, and was in green and gold, Century's colors. The tree was titled "Century Knights."
Hoffman also decorated a small tree in the colors of Century High, and named it "Let it Snow."
Hoffman dedicates a great deal of time to the festival because it raises so much money for the children of Kennedy Krieger. The tree sales are part of the fund-raiser, she said. Ticket sales and corporate sponsors represent the largest donations.
The three-day festival raised more than $700,000 for the institute, said Hoffman. More than $25,000 was donated by her sponsor and employer through her efforts, not including money raised from the sale of the tree. Hoffman is reimbursed for the materials she buys, but volunteers her time.
She participates in one other charity during the year. She volunteers as arts and crafts director for the American Cancer Society's Pediatric Sibling Camp. The five-day camp in Pennsylvania is designed to help the siblings of critically ill children whose families are struggling with the impact of a child's illness.
"I need to give back," she explained. "I have been very fortunate in my life."
She also hopes her work will make an impression on her Century High cheerleaders as they take their place in the community.
Faith Lutheran Church is holding its 20th annual live Nativity scene at 5:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday on the lawn of the church facing Liberty Road.
According to John Glessing, evangelism chairman, the congregation has provided a live Nativity in Eldersburg at that location before the church was even built.
The scene will include live animals. Music written by parishioner Todd Wells will accompany the Nativity, with traditional Christmas music.
The public is invited to attend, and to enjoy supper of homemade soup, bread, desserts and hot chocolate afterward.
Faith Lutheran Church is at 1700 St. Andrew's Way in Eldersburg. Information: 410-795-8082.
Bikers donation run
The Alliance of Bikers Aimed Towards Education (ABATE) will hold its sixth annual donation run at 10 a.m. Saturday, leaving from Roy Rogers in Eldersburg to Springfield Hospital Center outside Sykesville.
The purpose of the run, according to director Ward Glass, is to give necessities to hospital patients who cannot provide for themselves, and are without friends or family to help.
ABATE will take donated toiletries such as hand lotion, toothpaste, soaps, shampoos and other items. Winter gloves and hats also are needed.
Items will be distributed by the bikers as they stop at Springfield buildings.
Donations can be taken to Roy Rogers that morning, or can be made by calling 410-239-4102 or 410-876-2778.
Debra Taylor Young's Southeast neighborhood column appears each Tuesday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.