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Over the past few days, some of us probably gorged ourselves with turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving; spent lots of cash or ran up a hefty credit card bill shopping Black Friday sales; and perhaps pulled the Christmas lights out of storage this weekend and began decorating our homes so elaborately Clark Griswold would be envious. Others enjoyed more simple meals, purchased a gift or two, and strung up a few twinkling lights.

Still others spent the past few days wondering how they are going to put food on the table; how they can afford essentials like soap, bath tissue or a warm winter jacket; or how they are going to pay this month's electric bill to keep the lights on.

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For that, we ask that you join us in giving hope this holiday season.

Thanksgiving marked the start of the 18th annual Holiday Hope campaign, coordinated by the Times in partnership with New Windsor State Bank, to raise money for local charities The Shepherd's Staff, Neighbors in Need Year Round, Carroll Food Sunday and Carroll Hospice to help the less fortunate during the holidays.

These charities are critical in assisting many county residents who, for one reason or another, have fallen on hard times.

We are heartened year after year with how much Carroll residents are willing to give to those truly in need, even when times might be tough in their own households.

Each year of the Holiday Hope campaign, we have set the goal higher in order to help more people. And each year, the generosity of this community never ceases to amaze us, always surpassing the goal we have set.

This year, for the first time, the Holiday Hope campaign has set the goal of raising a combined $100,000 for our four partner charities. As always, 100 percent of your donation will go to your selected charity.

We encourage you to please donate what you can and ask your friends, family and co-workers to do the same. Many times, churches, social groups and businesses will set up a jar to collect offerings to make a larger donation. Some have friendly contests to see which groups can raise more.

But remember, no contribution is too small.

Neighbors in Need Year Round, administered through Human Services Programs of Carroll County, Inc., provides assistance with eviction prevention, essential utilities, and security deposits for those struggling to maintain their housing.

How do you participate? It's simple. Each day until Christmas, there will be an advertisement in the Times for Holiday Hope that includes a form you can fill out. The form can also be printed from our website at www.carrollcountytimes.com/holidayhope, where you can read more about our participating charities. Take the completed form (please print clearly), along with a check made out directly to the charity, to any New Windsor State Bank location or mail it to P.O. Box 944, 222 E. Baltimore St., Taneytown, MD 21787.

Donors may give their gifts in honor or in memory of others, and may choose to be recognized themselves or to give their donations anonymously. A list of donations will be published in the Times each day through Christmas.

Thank you in advance for helping us provide hope to residents most in need.



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