Help Elkridge's less fortunate and donate to Holiday Games and Gifts project

There are indicators that the economy is moving on a more upward swing; however, not everyone feels that positive shift. These are still challenging economic times for many people who have been downsized out of a job, are dealing with illness or have lost a loved one. For many families, this will be a tough Christmas season.

In the spirit of the season, and to further exemplify the motto to "Give Where You Live," the St. Stephens Economic Development Corp., a Maryland-based not-for-profit, and the St. Stephens AME Church in Elkridge are teaming up to make the holidays brighter for local children and their families. On Saturday, Dec. 17th, from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., St. Stephens will present its Holiday Games and Gifts event.

Children and adults alike are welcome to join the fun at their center (7739 Mayfield Ave.), to play games and win prizes that can then be gifted to their parents, grandparents, siblings and caregivers. Although the event is targeted toward families that are experiencing tough economic times, all are welcome to attend.

Game tickets will be sold to the public a four for $1. Children whose parent or adult caregiver brings their ID and proof of recent economic hardship (unemployment check stub, utilities turn-off notice, etc.), will receive additional game tickets at no charge.

A volunteer will verify economic hardship in private to respect the family's privacy. Often during this time of year, adults and children experience depression or shame not being able to give even a small gift to show their love and devotion. Playing games for gifts provides both children and adults an opportunity to have fun and the chance to earn something they can give to others.

Members of St. Stephens Church and the EDC are busy gathering gifts that they themselves would want to receive. Also, they welcome donations to the cause and appreciate any and all contributions.

"In addition to regular donations, we've encouraged folks to re-gift items they may have received, but never used, and donate them for this event," said the Rev. Alicia Byrd, pastor of St. Stephens AME Church. "This will help persons who are struggling themselves to be a blessing to others, even if they don't have the money to buy new presents."

In addition to the Games and Gifts program, the Child Evangelism Fellowship and the St. Stephens drama ministry will present the Christmas story in the church sanctuary throughout the day.

If you would like to contribute to the St. Stephens Games and Gifts program, donations can be dropped off anytime (including Dec. 17), when all the gifts will be brought onsite for the event. More information can be obtained by contacting Vernell or Pat at 410-799-4122 or 410-796-9762, Mon. through Fri. anytime between 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., or via email to Your donations and support are greatly appreciated.

The Elkridge Volunteer Fire Department's annual holiday Food Drive is still underway and your assistance is both needed and appreciated. Donations of perishable and non-perishable foods can be brought to the Elkridge Volunteer Fire Department or given to Santa and Mrs. Claus on their annual neighborhood fire truck visits.

Monetary donations are also welcome; checks should be made out to the EVFD, and can be mailed to: 6275 Old Washington Road, Elkridge, MD 21075.

For additional information or pick up assistance, call Joe Slavotinek at 410-984-1796.

With a Friday, Dec. 16 deadline, here's a quick reminder to solicit your support for the Howard County Office on Aging's Project: Holiday if at all possible. The senior centers throughout the county — including the Elkridge Senior Center, inside the Elkridge Branch Library — are collecting personal care items for low-income seniors who have little or no family and reside in local nursing homes, assisted living facilities and in their own homes within the community.

The Office on Aging is asking for items such as socks, lotion, body wash, soap, deodorant, shampoo/conditioner, powder, toothpaste & brushes, and men's undershirts. Other "wish list" items include sweaters, nightgowns, pajamas, puzzle books, stamps and stationary.

The Office on Aging also accepts monetary donations, and checks can be made payble to Howard County Office on Aging (note Project Holiday in the memo field) and mailed to Howard County Office on Aging, 6751 Columbia Gateway Drive, 2nd Floor, Columbia, MD 21046.

For more information, contact Ofelia Ross at 410-313-6423 or via email at

Please keep all of our brave women and men who are far from home this holiday season (and their families) in your thoughts and prayers. Remember to "Give Where You Live" and whether it's by word, action or deed, it really does make a difference.

In the words of Francis Maitland Balfour, "The best thing to give to your enemy is forgiveness; to an opponent, tolerance; to a friend, your heart; to your child, a good example; to a father, deference; to your mother, conduct that will make her proud of you; to yourself, respect; to all men, charity."

Please keep in touch and let me know what you'd like to share in this space. Thanks and have a stellar week!

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