As we come to the close of another challenging year on the economic front for many, local nonprofit groups throughout the area are struggling to make ends meet and address growing needs in the community.

These groups and the people they serve need our help more than ever.

Below is a listing of local helping organizations seeking donations of either money or items, or both. In this season of giving and Thanksgiving, please share your blessings, by giving to those less fortunate.

Assistance Center of Towson Churches — 120 W. Pennsylvania Ave., Towson, MD 21204, provides food and financial assistance to low-income families and the homeless. 410-296-4855, http://www.actconline.info.

Wish List: Personal items: Deodorant, razors, lotion, socks, adult-sized jackets, toiletries. Food items: Cereal, canned tomatoes, pork and beans, canned vegetables and fruits, pasta meals canned (ravioli, spaghetti), spaghetti sauce, tuna, peanut butter and jelly, soup, dried pasta (spaghetti, macaroni), saltine crackers (boxes), Pop-top canned goods for homeless, care bags, canned meat (beef stew, chili, Spam, etc.), macaroni and cheese, potatoes (boxed), rice Also, food gift cards $5 to $15.

Baltimore Child Abuse Center — Mission is to provide all reported victims of child sexual abuse in Baltimore, and their non-offending caretakers, with comprehensive interviews, medical treatment, referrals, and crisis counseling services with the goal of preventing future child sexual abuse. 410-396-6147 or http://www.bcaci.org.

Wish List: Monetary donations. Also, crayons, colored pencils, markers, coloring books, construction paper, glue sticks, child-friendly scissors, stickers.

Baltimore County Department of Social Services' Fund for Social Welfare — provides assistance to clients through ongoing programs and yearly projects. 410-853-3021 or dward3@dhr.state.md.us.

Wish List: Inquire about sponsoring a family for the holidays.

Believe In Tomorrow National Children's Foundation — provides hospital and retreat housing services for critically ill children and their families. The Believe In Tomorrow Children's House at Johns Hopkins offers families a sense of home where they can stay for days or weeks at a time while their child undergoes treatment or surgery for a life threatening illness. Believe In Tomorrow also offers families five beach and mountain retreat homes, which they can utilize year-round, free of charge, to renew their spirits and reconnect as a family. Believe In Tomorrow's unique programs bring comfort, hope and joy to critically ill children and their families. 410-744-1032. http://www.believeintomorrow.org.

Wish List: Battery jump start pack, Keurig K-cups, Duraflame logs, paper plates and coffee cups, plastic silverware, dishwasher detergent, tea, new sump pump and carpeting.

Casey Cares Foundation — provides uplifting, heartwarming, and continuing programs with a special touch to critically ill children and their families throughout Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic area. 443-568-0064. http://www.caseycaresfoundation.org.

Wish List: $10 or $25 gift certificates for Target, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Ledo Pizza, Pizza Hut, Pizzeria Uno, Three Brothers Pizza, Taco Bell, or Subway. $10 or $25 gift certificates for other national restaurants, big box store and movie theater chains. New, two-piece pajamas (adult and infant sizes are our most needed)

Center for Pregnancy Concerns — is a pregnancy resource center providing free physical, emotional and spirituaal help and guidance to women and children. http://www.cpcforhelp.org. 410-391-6699

Wish List: Baby clothes: (preemie to 4T, new or gently used); Outfits (especially 0-3 months); Onesies and undershirts (especially 0-3 months); Sleepers (especially 0-3 months); Booties, socks, shoes. Baby/mom items: Bibs, blankets, receiving blankets, sheets, hooded towels, disposable diapers (preemie to size 6); Similac Advance Formula, new baby bottles, lotion, oil, powder, shampoo; toys and stuffed animals; maternity clothing (new or used in good condition); umbrellas for women and children (new or used in good condition). Gifts for women: lotions, hand creams, coco butter, night gowns, shampoo, baby books, parenting books, cosmetics, nail polish, small jewelry items. Also, volunteers at the centers and monetary donations.

Christopher Place Academy — provides education and employment training, as well as emotional, spiritual, and addiction recovery support to formerly homeless men. 443-986-9031. http://www.cc-md.org.

Wish List: New single size sheets, blankets, pillows, pillow cases; full-size deodorant, bar soap, shampoo, body lotion, razors, tooth paste; good reading books; new dress and casual clothing; new undershirts, briefs, pajamas; new bath towels and wash cloths; men's shoes: new or very gently used dress, casual and athletic.

Defenders of Animal Rights — is dedicated to eliminating cruelty to all animals by providing services which include rescues, the sheltering of unwanted animals and abuse victims, adoptions through an innovative pet center, spaying/neutering, humane education, youth work, grief counseling, and human health enhancements via pets. 410-527-1466. http://www.adopt-a-pet.org.

Wish List: Animal supplies: Feline pine litter (nonclumping), Pedigree Dry Adult Dog Food, Purina Puppy & Kitten Chow, Purina Dry Adult Cat Chow, cat and kitten canned food, dog and cat treats and toys, rawhides and chew toys, hamster food and treats, parakeet and parrot food and toys, wild bird feed, suet cakes, bales of straw and hay, fresh fruit and veggies and Pet Smart and Walmart gift cards; cleaning supplies: clean sheets, towels, blankets, laundry detergent, large trash bags, bleach, paper towels, sponges, scrubbers, wet/dry shop vacuums; office supplies: stamps, white copy paper, AA batteries, pens, markers, scotch tape; correction tape, manila file folders; post-it notes, printer ink: HP No. 02 black/ color, EPSON No. 69 black/color, HP No.60 black/color and HP No.701 black.

Dream 4 It Foundation — raises funds to support educational scholarships for college freshmen. 443-472-3311. http://www.dream4it.net.