Assistance Center of Towson Churches among agencies looking for help during holidays

Every year, the Assistance Center of Towson Churches rounds up basket after basket of food to fill the Thanksgiving tables of families in need. Last year, the organization collected more than 2,000 baskets, director Linda Lotz said.

The Thanksgiving baskets were being collected by more than 50 churches around the Towson area, Lotz said. The baskets, along with turkeys or gift cards to buy them, were distributed on Mon., Nov. 19 and Tue., Nov. 20.


But this year, the Thanksgiving rush felt different as the consortium of churches adjusts to a loss: longtime volunteer Ruth Schaefer, who died at her Timonium home of non-Hodgkins lymphoma at age 85 this September.

“I always called her my secret weapon,” Lotz said. “She was one of those people I could depend on.”


The holiday season, especially, is challenging for Lotz because “Ruth did so much for me” — from copy editing, to updating the website, to taking photos. But Lotz is heartened by the mass of volunteers from all walks of life who are stepping up to make the Thanksgiving baskets happen.

Volunteers young and old help the Assistance Center with its core mission, both during the holidays and year-round, Lotz said, “helping everyone get what they need when they’re in a gap.” Seeing such a diverse group of people come together to help those in need is inspiring, she said.

“It amazes me to see how many people support this organization through money, or going, or all kinds of volunteers,” Lotz said. “It’s hard to keep up with all the people who want to help and want to do things.”

The Arc Baltimore — 7215 York Road, Baltimore, MD 21212. Provides advocacy and high quality, life-changing supports to more than 6,000 adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. Contactus@thearcbaltimore.org or 410-296-2272.


Wish List: Canvas grocery bags; grocery store gift cards; protein (peanut butter, tuna, chicken, chili, etc.); laundry/dish detergent; toiletries; hats and scarves for children and adults; gift cards for family/holiday activities. Or designate a donation to the Family Fund at www.thearcbaltimore.org/donate.

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, www.actconline.info.

Wish List: Personal items: Deodorant, razors, lotion, soap, shampoo, shaving cream, tissue packs and toothpaste. Food items: Cereal, canned fruit, tuna, peanut butter, jelly, canned meat (beef stew, chili, Spam), macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, spaghetti sauce, canned vegetables, canned tomatoes, potatoes (canned or boxed), rice, pork and beans, pork and beans, canned pasta meals, soup. No perishables, home-canned items or institutional-sized cans.

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 www.bcaci.org

Wish List: Nonperishable healthy food items; monetary donations and gift cards; toiletries such as lotions, deodorants, soap or body wash; laundry detergent; bleach; fabric softener; dryer sheets; baby items such as diapers, wipes, baby powder and lotions; and undergarments (all sizes from children to adults). The center also has an Amazon wish list on its website.

Baltimore Humane Society — an independent, nonprofit, no-kill animal shelter that offers low-cost veterinary care to the public, and a pet cemetery with grief support services. 410-833-8848 www.bmorehumane.org.

Wish List: Non-clumping cat litter, paper towels, dog treats, laundry detergent, dish detergent, latex gloves, Science Diet foods, treats (soft/chewy), peanut butter, Kong stuffing, vitamin C tablets for guinea pigs, Timothy Hay bedding, shredded paper, Carefresh Ultra (for small animals), janitorial supplies, Clorox germicidal bleach, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, mop heads, scrub brushes (with long-handle attachment), spray bottles, dog toys, cat toys, cardboard cat scratchers, puppy pads and Feliway spray. For the Bmore Kind Pet Food Bank: Cat food (dry, any variety) and dog food (dry, any brand), (opened or Cclosed bags are OK for the food bank). http://bmorehumane.org/donate/.

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 use year-round, free of charge, to renew their spirits and reconnect as a family. 410-744-1032. www.believeintomorrow.org.

Wish List: Keurig K-cups (coffee, tea, hot chocolate), granola bars, individual snack bags (chips, popcorn), individual cereal cups, Duraflame logs, paper plates, paper coffee cups and lids, plastic silverware, disposable food containers, paper towels, toilet paper, dishwasher detergent, Clorox wipes and furniture steam cleaner. Amazon wish lists can be found at http://a.co/9MX28Xt and http://a.co/dwt5Ru7.

Carson Scholars Fund Inc. — seeks to combat the American education crisis by discovering promise and rewarding excellence in the nation’s youth through Scholarship and Reading Room programs. http://www.carsonscholars.org

Wish List: Monetary donations.

Casey Cares Foundation — provides uplifting and on-going programs for critically ill children and their families throughout Mid-Atlantic region. 443-568-0064. CaseyCares.org. erin@caseycaresfoundation.org.

Wish List: $10 or $25 gift cards for Target, Walmart, Ledo Pizza, Pizza Hut, Red Lobster, Subway, Dunkin Donuts, Chick-fil-A, Panera, Redbox, AMC and Regal Theaters or Fandango; new, two-piece pajamas (adult and infant sizes are needed most).

Center for Pregnancy Concerns — is a pregnancy resource center providing free physical, emotional and spiritual help and guidance to women and children. www.cpcforhelp.org. 410-391-6699 (Admin Office); 410-391-3911 (helpline).

Wish List: Clothing (especially 2T to 4T, new or gently used; especially 0-6 months and toddler sizes); Onesies (especially 0-6 months); Sleepers (especially 0-9 months); Booties, socks, shoes, bibs, blankets, receiving blankets, crib sheets, hooded towels, disposable diapers (especially size 3 to 6); Powdered Similac Advance Formula in 12.5 ounce cans, new baby bottles, baby lotion, baby oil, baby wash; toys and stuffed animals; maternity clothing (new or gently used); bassinets, potty chairs, bouncy seats, stationary entertainers, new infant car seats (no used), playpens, swings, gates, strollers, booster chairs, high chairs, bathtubs, Pack & Plays. Gifts for women: lotions, hand creams, cocoa butter, nightgowns, shampoo, baby books, parenting books, cosmetics, nail polish, small jewelry items. Toiletries. Monetary donations and volunteers.


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


Wish List: Twin sheets, towels, washcloths, lotion, bar soap, razors, athletes foot cream, deodorant, laundry detergent, blankets, pillows and pillowcases, men’s shirts size 3X to 6X, gently used or new casual clothing, new undershirts, briefs, pajamas, new or gently used men’s casual, dress or athletic shoes.

Defenders of Animal Rights — is dedicated to eliminating cruelty to 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. www.adopt-a-pet.org

Wish List: Feline pine litter, Pro Pan Dry Dog/Puppy food, dog and puppy canned food, Purina adult cat and kitten chow, cat and kitten canned food, dog and cat treats and toys, rawhides and chew toys, parakeet and parrot food and toys, wild bird feed, suet cakes, bales of straw and hay, fresh fruit and veggies, peanut butter, canned tuna, baby food: pureed meats, kitten nursing bottles/KMR, gift cards (Petsmart, Walmart, grocery stores, Amazon, Lowes), linens (sheets, towels, blankets), laundry detergent, large trash bags, bleach, paper towels, sponges, scrubbers, dish soap, hand soap, scrub uniforms; stamps, white copy paper, pens/markers, scotch tape, blank CDs, correction tape, manila file folders.

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

Wish List: Cash donations and services and products for annual silent auction event.

Ellene “Brit” Christiansen Memorial Fund — at Towson Arts Collective, mission is to run the center, providing a fully inclusive, accessible venue for exhibits, classes, and events for all artists of all abilities. 410-916-6340.

Wish List: Video cameras, tripods, folding chairs and folding tables, easels.

Gallagher Services — Supporting adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities through person-centered planning. Residential and day supports are provided with an emphasis on community participation and engagement. 668-600-2520. www.cc-md.org/gallagher.

Wish List: Monetary donations made at www.cc-md.org/donatenow, gently used or new iPads and tablets, art supplies/blank canvases, generators, heavy-duty paper shredders, outdoor patio furniture, high-efficiency washers and dryers, new bath towels, twin- and full-size bed linens, blenders, food processors, cookware sets, vacuum cleaners, shrubs and flowers for landscaping, mulch, hedge and tree trimmers, tools for home repair, flashlights for emergencies, adult bicycle helmets, gently used adult bikes, recreation equipment (basketballs, soccer balls, footballs, corn holes, etc.).

House of Ruth Maryland — provides comprehensive services to victims of domestic violence and their families. 410-889-0840. www.hruth.org. info@hruthmd.org ‘Adopt a family’ at hruth.org/adoptafamily.

Wish List: New washcloths, wire hair brushes, deodorant, diapers (sizes 4, 5 and 6), new undershirts (sizes 24 months to 3T), new boys undergarments (all sizes, including men’s for the older boys), new girls undergarments (size 2T-6X), new girls socks (toddler sizes), new socks and undergarments for women and children, new pillows, new twin-size blankets, comforters and sheet sets, new air mattresses, baby wipes, pampers (sizes 3, 4, 5 and 6, Pull-ups sizes 4T, 5T and 6T), crib sheets for small cribs and cots, crib sheets that fit mattresses sized 23 3/8 x 37 1/4 (not standard size), new infant and toddler sleepwear, infant and toddler toys, play mats, rattles, baby mirrors, stacking cups and boxes, Jack in the boxes, Lego duplo, Fisher-Price Learning toys, nesting blocks, new socks and undergarments for women and children, gift cards for grocery stores, gas stations, department stores (Walmart, Target, etc.) and nonperishable food (peanut butter and jelly, tuna, cereal, pasta, granola bars, juice boxes, etc.)

Kennedy Krieger Institute — is improving the lives of children and adolescents with disorders and injuries of the brain and spinal cord as well as developmental disabilities through patient care, special education, research and professional training. 443-923-7300. www.KennedyKrieger.org.

Wish List: Cause and effect toys, light-up and sound toys, stacking/sorting toys, educational toys, Fischer-Price Little People toys, Playskool toys, arts and craft sets, DVD movies (G-PG13), Wii games (rated E), board games (ages 8 and older), sports items, gift cards for grocery stores/gas stations, and nonperishable food items. Please, no stuffed animals.

Lutheran World Relief — a nonprofit organization that works with local partners to provide lasting solutions to poverty, injustice and human suffering. http://lwr.org/ 800-597-5972 or lwr@lwr.org.

Wish List: Monetary donations.

Maryland CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for children) — 402 W. Pennsylvania Ave., 3rd Floor, Towson, MD 21204 www.MarylandCASA.org / jess@marylandcasa.org. Provides more than 1,000 trained volunteer advocates for more than 1,500 children and youth who are under court protection due to abuse and neglect, ensuring their right to safe, permanent homes.


Wish List: Gift cards (Target, Walmart, etc.) to purchase supplies to train more advocates, office/training supplies to train additional volunteers, etc. Tax-deductible donations are also welcome at http://marylandcasa.org/get-involved/make-a-donation/ or above address, and volunteers are needed to serve as advocates, assist in the office, help with fundraising and public awareness. New or gently used devices like laptops and tablets for training purposes. http://marylandcasa.org/get-involved/.

Maryland Food Bank — as the largest charitable food provider in the state, the Maryland Food Bank distributes an average of 115,000 meals every day to thousands of food pantries, soup kitchens and community-based organizations across Maryland. 410-737-8282.

Wish List: The Maryland Food Bank can stretch monetary donations furthest, turning every $1 donation into three meals. Go to www.mdfoodbank.org for more information.

Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland — provides nutritious meals to homebound individuals since 1960. 410-558-0932. www.mealsonwheelsmd.org.

Wish List: Homebound health kits, adult diapers (pull-ups: sizes M, L, & XL not tabbed), anti-bacterial liquid soap, adult wipes/towelettes, deodorant, body lotion, tissues, shampoo, comb/hairbrush, toothbrush/toothpaste, back-up boxes, Boost or Ensure (plain, vanilla and chocolate), canned goods (corn, beans, stew, fruit, etc), canned chicken, tuna or salmon, crackers/cheese crackers, peanut butter/peanut butter crackers, cereal, mac ’n cheese, jelly, single servings of fruit cups/applesauce, soup (vegetable, chicken noodle), fruit juice (single-serving size), ultra-high temperature (UHT) milk, high-protein items, dishwashing liquid, paper towels, laundry detergent, toilet paper, cleaning wipes, dish towels, flashlights, non-skid socks and magnet clips.

Mount Washington Pediatric Hospital — treats children with serious, chronic, and or complex medical needs on an inpatient, outpatient and day program basis. 410-578-8600. www.mwph.org.

Wish List: Gift cards to: Amazon, Target, Walmart, casual dining, Regal Cinema in Hunt Valley/AMC Theaters, AMF Bowling alleys, Pet Depot, Michael’s/JoAnn Fabrics/AC Moore. Infant rattles, socks, bibs, batteries, Uno cards, Goop, foam, foam soap, children’s board books, washable stamp pads, Matchbox cars, scrapbooking supplies, infant to toddler clothing, baby toys including cause and effect toys, toys with blinking lights or music, vinyl baby dolls (a diverse assortment appreciated), toddler toys, poppy pillow covers, craft supplies for school-age children, teen board games, model kits, sports equipment, board games, action figures, LEGO sets, transformers, CD player/radios, Play-Doh, headphones, coloring books, Wii U games, Xbox One games.

Muscular Dystrophy Association — We’re fighting to free individuals – and the families who love them – from the harmful effects of muscular dystrophy, ALS and related life-threatening diseases so they can live longer and grow stronger. 410-494-7106 www.mda.org

Wish List: For MDA Summer Camp: 20-inch fully inflated Bubble Bobo balloons, giant Connect 4 game, board games, gift cards (Target, Walmart, Staples, BJ’s, Visa, grocery stores), insect repellent, sunscreen, Band-aids, hand sanitizer, gallon zipper bags, paper products, bottled water, arts and crafts kits, glue, construction paper and poster board. For general program services: copy paper, auction items such as restaurant gift cards, theater tickets, concert tickets, gift baskets, autographed sports memorabilia and an office volunteer. Amazon wish list at http://a.co/6fgme9g.

My Sister's Place Women's Center — a comprehensive resource center offering homeless and impoverished women and their children three warm meals a day and resources to help them achieve and sustain self-sufficiency. 410-659-3763. www.cc-md.org/my-sisters-place.

Wish List: New socks and underwear, canned soups like chicken, tomato and vegetable, canned tuna, breakfast meats, laundry detergent and travel-sized toiletries.

NAMI Metropolitan Baltimore — provides education, support, and advocacy to improve the lives of individuals and families impacted by mental illness in Baltimore County. All programs are free, confidential and peer-led. Donations can be made online at www.namibaltimore.org or by mail to 6600 York Road, Suite 204, Baltimore, MD 21212. 410-435-2600

Wish List: Monetary donations and gift cards (Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Target, grocery stores) to support a mental health education library and to support volunteer training. Volunteers are needed to share their time and talents in a number of roles, including program facilitators, mentors, presenters and helpline volunteers. Contact volunteer@namibaltimore.org.

Our Daily Bread Employment Center and Soup Kitchen — provides a hot-meal program serving more than a quarter million meals to the hungry of Baltimore City each year, including nutritious lunches every day of the year and breakfast to seniors and individuals with disabilities each weekday morning. 443-986-9031. www.cc-md.org.

Wish List: Bags of sugar, oatmeal in cylinders, grape jelly, salt, pepper, mittens, scarves and hats, new flannels.

Salvation Army — The Salvation Army operates three Boys and Girls Clubs in central Maryland that provide children and youth with educational, spiritual and recreational programs. 410-783-2920. Salvationarmycm.org.

Wish List: cash donations, volunteers, sporting equipment, video games, educational material, children’s books and beauty supplies.


Santa Claus Anonymous — provides assistance in the form of gift certificates redeemable at local merchants to aid families in the purchase of toys, clothing, or books for holiday presents. 443-557-7000.

Wish List: Monetary donations by mail or online only. P.O. Box 28385, Baltimore, MD 21234 or www.santaclausanonymous.org.

Sarah’s House — provides emergency shelter, supportive housing, and case management to help homeless families achieve independence. 410-551-7722. www.cc-md.org.

Wish List: Blankets and comforters and twin-sized linens, new or used; pillows, new; plastic storage bags, wraps and foils; paper products: plastic silverware, toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates, cups, napkins; new clothing: winter only-all sizes, coats: new and used-all sizes; underwear, socks, undershirts; baby wipes; food: tuna fish, cereal, healthy snacks, 100% juice, powdered drink mix, mayonnaise, instant mashed potatoes, ground beef, Gerber Graduates, butter, shredded cheese; towels, washcloths, twin sheets, new shower curtain liners; personal products: bath soap, baby soap, deodorants, shampoo/conditioner, feminine products, razors, shaving cream; gift cards: Target, Walmart, grocery stores, Home Depot.

St. Vincent’s Villa — A residential treatment center that provides comprehensive therapeutic services to children whose behavioral and emotional needs have not responded to interventions and services provided at home or in the community. St. Vincent’s Villa is located at 2600 Pot Spring Road, Timonium. 410-252-4000, ext. 1672. www.catholiccharities-md.org/st-vincents-villa.

Wish List: Stress balls, LEGO sets, journals suitable for boys or girls (not notebooks), card games (Uno cards, Phase 10, Skip-Bo, playing cards), action figures, gift cards for children’s activities (AMF Bowling, Regal Cinema, Red Zone, Pulaski Highway Go-Carts, Skateland, Baltimore Aquarium, Maryland Science Center), gift cards for off-ground dining (Subway, McDonalds, Burger King, Chick-fil-A, Pizza Hut, Coldstone Creamery).

Villa Maria School — a level-5 special education school serving children with emotional and behavioral difficulties. 410-252-4000 ext. 1672; mfolsomk@cc-md.org. www.catholiccharities-md.org/villa-maria-schools.

Wish List: Teddy bears or stuffed animals, gift cards for children’s activities (bowling, movies, go-carts) footballs, basketballs, art supplies (colored pencils, markers, paints/brushes, construction paper), new books (current titles for ages 8 to 12), trading cards (sports, Pokemon, etc.), 3-inch 3-ring binders, stress balls, small LEGO sets.

The Samaritan Women — is a national Christian organization providing assessment, restorative and graduate care to survivors, and bringing about an end to domestic human trafficking through awareness, prevention, and advocacy. http://thesamaritanwomen.org/

Wish List: Gift cards for school and office supplies (Amazon, Staples, Target, Walmart), grocery gift cards, Fitbits or pedometers, bus passes or gasoline gift cards, printer/copier paper, rewards gift cards (Starbucks, movies, Vitamin Shoppe), cash.

Turnaround Inc. — provides emergency shelter, counseling, community education, emergency room companions, legal services and a 24-hour hot line for victims of rape, domestic violence, sex trafficking, child sexual assault and adult survivors of child sexual abuse. 410-377-8111. www.turnaroundinc.org.

Wish List: Nonperishable food items, diapers, hats, gloves, scarves, gift cards and gas cards, household cleaning supplies, feminine products, paper towels, toilet paper.

United Churches Assistance Network (UCAN) provides emergency financial assistance to families and individuals in northern Baltimore County to prevent evictions and utility turnoffs. Networking and referrals to other organizations also provided. Open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 410-628-2102.

Wish List: Money, gift cards to food stores, Target and Walmart.

Victor’s Vittles Food Pantry — Christus Victor Lutheran Church, 9833 Harford Rd. Pantry is open Saturdays 9 a.m.-11:30 a.m., serving zip code areas 21234, 21236 and 21286. Email: office@christusvictoronline.org

Wish List: Nonperishable food, personal needs items, laundry detergent, cleaning products.

For perishable food and to arrange delivery, contact church. 410-668-8089, Mon-Fri 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.