Back to School Summer Jam

At the Back to School Summer Jam at Granville Gude Park in August, Kennedi Thomas, 7, of Laurel, laughs while her brother Jordan Thomas, 9, receives a hand stamp and school supplies from their mom Tiara Thomas, far right, who volunteered at the event, sponsored by the Laurel Board of Trade and the city. (Photo by Nate Pesce, Patuxent Homestead / August 23, 2013)

Many people find the holiday season to be a time to share their blessings with the less fortunate. Local organizations and advocacy groups such as those below would put your gift to good use.

Oaklands Presbyterian Church has a food pantry on-site and can always use donations of food and/or money for residents who are in need of help.

Wish List: Canned soup, fruit, salmon and tuna, vegetables, pasta and sauces, peanut butter and jelly, cereal and oatmeal; pancake mix; macaroni and cheese; other staples. Donations can be dropped off during church hours, Tuesday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at 14301 Laurel Bowie Road. 301-776-5833.

Fish of Laurel/Elizabeth House helps needy neighbors in the greater Laurel area by providing dinners, groceries, referral services and, on a very limited basis, some financial help. Mailing address: Fish of Laurel Inc., P.O. Box 36, Laurel, MD 20725-0036. Street address: 308 Gorman Ave., Laurel, MD 20707. Email 301-776-9296. Help line: 301-262-7106.

Wish List: Kitchen volunteers needed as well as cash donations and nonperishable food items.

Laurel Advocacy and Referral Services is a non proselytizing ecumenical ministry serving the greater Laurel area by assisting homeless and low-income individuals or families experiencing crisis with emergency and long-term services designed to promote self-sufficiency.

Wish List: Volunteers needed to help in the pantry. Pantry items needed: Peanut butter and jelly, tuna and Tuna Helper, canned fruit and vegetables, canned soup, beans, cereal, oatmeal, "just-add-water" pancake mix, macaroni and cheese, pasta and sauce, rice and other staples. Donors needed to provide loose gifts [no used items] and practical gift cards/certificates [gas, grocery] for families who hare not yet been adopted. Last day to drop off holiday donations is Friday, Dec. 20, at LARS, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and Monday evenings, from 5 to 7:30 p.m., 311 Laurel Ave. General donations can also be made to help fund programs such as eviction prevention and utility assistance. Make checks payable to LARS or to donate online, go to and click on Give Direct.

Side by Side works to strengthen Prince George's County public schools in Laurel. 15808 Kerr Road, Laurel, MD 20707, 202-710-5555,

Wish List: Volunteers to help tutor once a week elementary school children who need reading or math help. Side by Side also needs a color printer and a desk top computer with wireless capability.

First Generation College Bound is a grass roots nonprofit whose goal is to increase the number of students who attend college by developing an educational community support system through the bridging of the resources of the home, church, school and community. 301-490-0911

Wish List: School supplies, Christmas party gifts for 60 low-income students, office chairs and a brochure stand.

Laurel TNR [Trap-Neuter-Release] is a nonprofit community effort to find and implement ways for feral "community" cats to live harmoniously alongside people, their homes and their businesses throughout Laurel, while humanely reducing their numbers. For information or to volunteer, contact Helen Woods, 240-620-8926

Wish List: Donations of cat food and money to pay for spay and neuter. Small donations can be dropped off at Spay Now Animal Surgery Clinic at 7401 Van Dusen. For pickup of larger items, contact or call 301-886-0161. Monetary donations can be sent to Laurel TNR Treasurer, P.O. 160, Gambrills, MD 21054.

Sarah's House is a homeless shelter and transitional housing program in Anne Arundel County, 2015 20th St., Fort Meade. Call 410-551-7722 or

Wish List: Items on Angel Tree for children and adults at Sarah's House: Girl, 6, Lalaloopsy; boy, 4, Leap Frog Explorer; boy, 10, anything Plants vs Zombies [size child's large]; boy, 15, Hollister Gift Card [size large]; girl, 2 kitchen play set; girl, age 18 months, musical toys; girl, age 14, pink watch; girl, 15, necklace and earrings; girl, 3, African American baby doll with accessories; boy, 7, walkie talkies; boy, 8, science kit; girl, 5, Lalaloopsy or Hello Kitty; boy, 11, any graphic large long sleeve shirt; mom, 20, pots and pans; dad, 27, crock pot [smaller size for family of 3]; single female, 29, woman's bathrobe size XL; single female, 40, makeup bag and accessories; single male, 22, black or brown waterproof watch; single male, 38, men's large brown jacket; single father of 3, 27, new bathroom set [shower curtain, rugs, towels]; single father of one, 19, new kitchen utensils and knife set; single father of 2, 35, new pots and pans set; single mother of 5, 42, new pots and pans set; single mother of 2, 19, new towel set; single female, 18, size medium woman's sweat suit, any color; single mother of 3, age 32, book sets to read to elementary-aged children; boy, 6, Hot Wheels set; boy, 9, Magic Tree House book set; single mother of one, 19, plastic plates, bowls, cups for kitchen; single father of 4, 45, new crock pot and recipe book; and single mother of 3, 25, new toaster or toaster oven.

Domestic Violence Center of Howard County Inc. is a private nonprofit agency, which provides services to women, children and men impacted by intimate partner violence and sexual assault in Howard County. All DVC services are confidential and fees are based on income.

Wish List: Adopt-A-Family holiday project donors still needed. DVC supplies you with wish lists of items [clothing, toys, household items, etc.] from a client and his/her children. Gift cards are strongly encouraged. Please wrap purchased gifts and use post-it note to identify gift and who it is for. If you want to support this project, email Jennifer Pollitt Hill as soon as possible at Bring all items to DVC office, 5457 Twin Knolls Road, Suite 310, Columbia, no later than 4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13.

Ongoing client needs: $25 gas cards, $25 grocery cards, batteries [all sizes], over the counter medication [Ibuprofen, Tylenol, aspirin, cough drops/cough syrup/cold and allergy medicine, without alcohol]. Items considered high need: household items paper towels, napkins, toilet paper, tissues, laundry detergent [high efficiency], aluminum foil, 60- and 75-watt light bulbs, latex gloves, non-latex gloves, plastic hangers; food items [only non-perishable items] hot and cold cereal, 64-ounce jugs juice; personal items diapers [all sizes, especially 3T and 4T]; gift cards [Target, Walmart].

• Hospice of the Chesapeake improves the quality of life for those in our communities experiencing advanced illness or bereavement through hospice and other palliative care, compassionate support and education. Volunteer Department, 443-837-1549 or toll free, 800-745-6132.

Wish List: Volunteers needed in Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties with 4-wheel drive vehicles to assist patients and staff with transportation during inclement weather conditions. Volunteers are needed to help out at Chesapeake Treasures thrift shop, 562B Ritchie Highway, Park Plaza Shopping Center, Severna Park. Participants needed to support upcoming fundraisers. Sat., Dec. 7, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., annual Customer Holiday Open House at Chesapeake Treasures, featuring special sales and refreshments. Sat., Dec. 21, 17th annual Santa Doll Raffle, nostalgic soft-sculpture, doll-sized replica Santa handmade by Virginia McConnell. On display at Treasures. Tickets $1 each or $5 for 6 through Dec. 20. Drawing Dec. 21, 4:30 p.m. No need to be present to win.