Baltimore Co. kicks off holiday toy drive

Ethan and Zach Taylor, 4-year-old twins, were spending a rainy Monday at the Essex Library when they noticed people placing new toys in a large decorated box. Their mother, Rachael Taylor, explained those toys were donations, destined for needy children. Both Essex preschoolers promised to add something to the box the next time they visit the library.

"They know Santa Claus is coming for them," she said. "It will be good for them to pick out something for another child."


With requests for assistance up and preliminary donations down, the county Department of Social Services wants to make contributing as convenient as possible for donors to the annual toy drive and adopt-a-family program, which began Monday. All 17 branches of the Baltimore County library system will prominently display similar large boxes.

"The library wants to make it easy for people to donate at convenient locations all around the county," said James H. Fish, director of county libraries, adding that he hoped the boxes would be emptied and refilled frequently throughout the next several weeks. "We are collectively open 1,126 hours a week."

Fullerton Self Storage at 7989 Rossville Blvd. and Silhouettes in Kenwood Shopping Center, 6249B Kenwood Ave., will also accept donations.

The county's holiday programs assisted more than 6,700 people last year, and demand is expected to exceed 7,000 requests this season, officials said.

"We may have the same number of donors, but the level of what they can give has dropped," said Deborah Ward, county director of volunteer services.

The county Department of Social Services is asking for individuals or businesses or maybe groups of co-workers to adopt families, some of whom are living in the county's homeless shelters. County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, whose office staff has adopted a family, said it can be as simple as adding a few items to the holiday shopping list.

Organizers also put together several toy stores and invite eligible parents to shop stacks of new toys, all sorted by age and gender.

DSS is asking for unwrapped toys, mittens, hats and socks. The value of a single donation should not exceed $20. The greatest need is for infant toys, educational items, gifts for teens and dolls of color.

Information: 410-853-3024.