During the holidays, it is easy to get caught up in creating materialistic “Wish Lists” of items to give to family, friends and co-workers. However, the reality of the holiday season is much different for the over 15,000 people in our area living below the poverty line. Their “Wish Lists” include basic household and survival items.
Donations of these items are always appreciated, and also capture the true spirit of the holiday season. The list below includes items often requested year round by local agencies and gift-giving programs that welcome donations.
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Local Charitable Giving-Wish List Suggestions that Change Lives
Give the magic of the season to a Child
Every child deserves to experience the joy of Christmas morning, but families that struggle financially question how to provide a gift or two to deliver that magic under the tree for their children. Thanks to the Salvation Army Angel Tree Project, thousands of American families receive help from “Santa’s elves” to make dreams come true. Program volunteers decorate Angel Trees with numbered paper angel tags with the first name, age and gender of a child in need of presents. Contributors remove one or more tags from the tree and purchase appropriate gifts for the child or children described on the tags. Visit the Angel Tree Project drop off location at The Mall in Columbia. Open daily from 10 a.m.- 8 p.m. until Saturday, Dec. 12.
Contribute food for a Holiday Meal
Glenelg United Methodist Church Food Pantry in Glenelg, Md.–Open Saturday, Dec. 19 from 9-10 a.m. to distribute food. Call 410-489-7260 to make a donation.
Church of the Ressurection in Ellicott City, Md., 3175 Paulskirk Dr, Ellicott City, MD 21042 (410) 461-9112— Offers a food pantry, financial assistance and accepts donations.
FISH of Howard County, Ellicott City, Md.–Provides emergency food and financial assistance to Howard County residents. This organization provides up to 5 days of emergency groceries to those in need, with agency discretion as to how often this service can be used.
Many local organizations also welcome grocery store gift cards.
Give NEW Outerwear and Clothing
Winter coats are expensive clothing items for low-income families, and may not be affordable for families living in extreme poverty. Shelters also get chilly and residents welcome warm clothing like sweats, fleece, and wool socks.
Grassroots Crisis Intervention has a detailed Holiday Wish List with items broken down by age, gender and interests for those who wish to contribute. Donations may be dropped off at the main center location at 6700 Freetown Road in Columbia anytime before Monday, Dec. 21.
In Montgomery County, The National Center for Children in Families will collect items for their Holiday Wish List until Monday, Dec. 14.
A local Glenelg High School freshman and her friends are currently collecting donations of toiletries and makeup to give to the Heartly House this holiday season. The Heartly House provides an emergency shelter for victims of domestic and child abuse. The students have over 30, Thirty-One brand bags donated that they wish to fill. Please drop off donations by Dec. 15 to any of the following Glenwood locations: Damon Forman Music Center, Books with a Past bookstore, or the Glenwood Branch of the Howard County Library. There are boxes for the donations at the front door of each drop off center. All locations are conveniently located near the intersection of Rt. 97 and Carrs Mill Road.
Wrap in Blankets
While blankets and comforters don’t seem like a glamorous gift, they are much needed items for individuals facing high energy bills in the winter. They are also a highly requested items in emergency situations. A donation of $15 can purchase three blankets from the American Red Cross.
Dishes are a great gift for parents through an Adopt-A-Family holiday program. Small appliances like microwaves, toasters and space heaters also make it to the top of many low-income parents’ wish lists. These practical are often unaffordable for a family struggling to pay their rent.Travel mugs are also suggested for adults who rely on a bus to get to work or daytime rehabilitation programs. Organizations like AmVets and Purple Heart offer local pick-up services.
When a family barely has the money to put food on the table, another basic necessity that may be neglected are cleaning supplies. These items (especially larger appliances like vacuum cleaners) are also practical, much-needed gift items for poor families. A Wider Circle in Montgomery County collects dish detergent, laundry detergent and basic cleaning supplies and may offer pick up services to individuals located in Montgomery County.