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Frosty the Snowman leads gift giveaway at Carroll Community College

Frosty the Snowman leads gift giveaway at Carroll Community College
Amanda Gardiner shows part of the collection of non-perisable food collected at Carroll Community College for the school's gift and food giveaway for students or staff in need. (KEN KOONSSTAFF PHOTO, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

With a corn cob pipe and a button nose and two eyes made out of coal, Frosty the Snowman is spreading cheer at Carroll Community College this holiday season.

The popular fairy tale character is the face of the college's Frosty's Gifts Program, an initiative that allows faculty, staff and students to donate clothing and food items to faculty, staff and students in need.

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Those interested in donating can choose a Frosty gift tag that anonymously specifies the needs of a food locker recipient. The food locker is a year-round grocery assistance program located on campus that helps students, staff and faculty of the college.

This is the first year of the Frosty's Gifts Program and the program is much-needed, said Amanda Gardiner, the AmeriCorps VISTA campus contact for Carroll Community College.

AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America is a federal service program that aims to fight poverty. Roughly 600 VISTA members work on campuses in 30 states.

"Last year, I noticed several [food locker] clients mentioning the difficulty around this time of year with providing for their families," said Gardiner, the coordinator for Frosty's Gifts Program and the food locker.

In 2013, faculty, staff and students of the college collected donations for Carroll County residents through the Human Services Programs of Carroll County.

"This year, we want to bring that generosity back into the college to allow faculty, staff and students to take care of their own right here on campus," Gardiner said in a prepared statement. "We are realizing that right here at the college, there are people in need and we wish to alleviate the burden some of us carry, especially the difficulties that are unknown to others."

Before she developed a program to help people affiliated with the college, Gardiner said she gauged the interest of current food locker recipients.

"Many people were receptive," she said. "They were saying it would help out so much. They seemed very excited about it."

In the three weeks the program has been advertised on campus, only seven Frosty gift tags are left out of the 38 that were available.

While the food locker currently helps 50 families or about 200 people, Frosty's Gifts Program will help 17 families which equals 38 people, and Gardiner said both programs are integral to keeping students in need engaged in learning.

"We really care about our students and their needs and we know that if they are hungry, they can't focus on completing their education, especially during the holiday season if they are worried about meeting the needs of their families," she said.

Donations will only be accepted from students, staff and faculty of the college.

Items that may be donated include grocery gift cards, children's clothing, toys, household products and adult clothing.

Nonperishable food can be donated directly to the food locker.

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Any students, staff or faculty interested in contributing can contact Amanda Gardiner at 410-386-8504 or agardiner@carrollcc.edu.

All gift items must be wrapped and turned in at the Student Life office by Dec. 9 so that recipients can pick up the gifts the following week.

Reach Sarah Hainesworth at 410-857-7873 or email sahainesworth@tribune.com.

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