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Twenty years ago, the powers that be at the Carroll County Times began a seasonal giving campaign that ran from Thanksgiving to Christmas designed to help local charities raise money. That first year, 1999, the goal was to raise $5,000 and the people of Carroll County came through, More than $20,000 was raised by Christmas.

We’ve held this campaign each year since. Because the community has been so generous, we’ve been able to raise the bar each year, setting the goal a few thousand dollars higher. And each year, the community continues to respond by meeting that goal, often with time to spare. We’ve raised some $2 million over those 20 campaigns thanks to that generosity.

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This year we are seeking to collect $125,000 among five nonprofits serving Carroll County: Carroll County Food Sunday, Human Services Programs – Neighbors in Need Year-Round, The Shepherd’s Staff, Carroll Hospice and Access Carroll. It’s an ambitious goal, but one we are still confident this community will achieve. A year ago, we set a goal of $120,000 and exceeded it to the tune of a record $132,676.

Beginning on Thanksgiving Day and continuing through Monday, we have been publishing profile stories of each of these remarkable charities and the work that they do.

· Access Carroll’s mission calls for it to champion health and provide quality integrated health care services for low-income residents of Carroll County.

· Carroll County Food Sunday distributes a weekly, nutritionally balanced grocery package that is predicated on household size to more than 400 families a week.

· Neighbors in Need Year-Round fund helps allow HSP to operate a seasonal cold weather shelter and offer other services such as those designed to promote financial Independence and stability.

· Carroll Hospice offers compassionate hospice care to terminally ill patients and their families in Carroll County and the surrounding areas.

· The Shepherd’s Staff aims to provide temporary assistance to resolve short-term problems and empower people to seek more permanent solutions for social and economic self-sufficiency.

Carroll Community Bank is once again partnering with us in this endeavor, giving of their staff’s time and expertise to collect and process the donations, which can be mailed to: Carroll Community Bank Attn: Holiday Hope, 1010 Baltimore Blvd., Westminster, MD 21157. If you’d rather, drop in and drop off your donation at that location. Simply clip the donation form that runs in our newspaper each day or go online and print out the form and indicate which nonprofit(s) you want to receive your donation.

No question, this a time of year when many are in the giving spirit. Of course, this is also the time of year when many are extending themselves. We know that making the decision to part with your hard-earned money is not easy. But neither is the incredible work being done by these charities and their numerous volunteers. That’s why we need to keep supporting them.

Even if you choose not to donate to the Holiday Hope campaign, if you do plan to make a donation this season, we encourage you to keep it local. There are hundreds of local charities in Carroll County doing incredible work for a variety of causes. The Carroll County Public Library maintains a directory of community services at community.carr.org, where you can search practically every organization operating in the county.

Regardless of how you do it, make a point to give back locally this holiday season. And if you are able, please consider donating to Holiday Hope.

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