The turkeys are stuffed and Thanksgiving is here, which means only one thing: The holiday season is in full swing.

For many, this time of year is seen as joyful, but for others, it’s a time of struggle.


Many Howard County organizations lend a helping hand during the holiday months, asking for donations of all kinds and sizes to help individuals and families experience holiday cheer.

At the Columbia Pregnancy Center, families can shop at the Baby Boutique all year, receiving many items for free — including formula, bottles and rattles — and purchasing other items, such as new clothing, with points earned by attending free classes offered at the center.

For this holiday season, the center is requesting newborn outfits for newborns to 6 months, along with blankets, pacifiers, and sizes 4 and 5 diapers.

Last year during the holidays, the center collected $30,000 worth of in-kind donations, which were then distributed to the community, said Nancy Vawter, executive director of the Columbia Pregnancy Center.

“A positive pregnancy test is always an adventure,” Vawter said. “We want parents to know that they will have everything that they need for their little one.”

The center serves about 600 families annually, doubling its numbers since 2016.

“Our mission is to make sure every family has everything they need to welcome a new life into their family,” Vawter said.

For the past 25 years, the Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center in Columbia has provided holiday gifts to low-income Howard residents and those in the shelter.

Last year, Grassroots served 80 families and a total of 163 children, according to Monteith Mitchell, a Grassroots volunteer coordinator.

Grassroots is a multi-service crisis intervention center that provides “24-hour crisis intervention services, emergency and traditional center and community education,” according to its website.

When asking for holiday donations, its needs change slightly from year to year, a reflection of the needs of the people Grassroots serve, Mitchell said.

This year, some requested items include Walmart, Amazon, Uber and Lyft gift cards; workplace wear for adults; long-sleeve shirts or active wear for teenagers; pajama sets for children ages 3 to 8; and clothes for infants.

All collected items need to be brand new, Mitchell said.

“It just means a lot to families, particularly to be able to provide gifts to their children so they can have a holiday experience.”