It is one of the busiest seasons of the year at Laurel Advocacy and Referral Services. The organization that supports low-income and homeless individuals in our community recently provided the ingredients for a Thanksgiving meal to 150 families.
Last week, it celebrated the 15th annual Turkey Trot, with more than 800 runners winding their way through Old Town in support of its mission. Now, it is in the throes of organizing its Adopt-a-Family program to provide Christmas gifts to children in need.
And, in the middle of it all, LARS honored the memory of one the most enthusiastic supporters of the Adopt-a-Family program when, on Nov. 25, it dedicated the lobby of its Laurel Avenue office to the late Dawn Hoffman.
Hoffman died of cancer in June at the age of 54. She worked for many years at World Travel Network in Greenbelt. Many knew her smiling face from the 28 years she spent working at Oliver’s Old Towne Tavern on Main Street.
“She just cared for everybody,” said her son, Caleb Hoffman, a freshman at West Virginia University. “Oliver’s was basically her second family.”
At Oliver’s, among other duties, Hoffman coordinated fundraisers to benefit LARS, including events to raise money for the Adopt-a-Family program. Then, she would use the dollars to purchase toys, clothes, household necessities and other gifts for the children with whom Oliver’s had been paired through the program.
“She was a great person,” said Carl DeWalt, who was Hoffman’s partner and is a Ward 1 city council member. “You could see it in her eyes when she was shopping for those kids. She loved every minute of it.”
Now, a little bit of her joy will be shared with clients and other visitors to the LARS lobby. A plaque with Hoffman’s photo hangs on the wall there, with an inscription that reads: “In Loving Memory of Dawn Ellen Hoffman. For her dedicated service to the Laurel community. May her light live on in every act of kindness that takes place within these walls.”
The dedication was “heartwarming,” Caleb said.
“She would have loved to know how much impact she had on a small part of the community,” he said. He recalled that Christmas was one of his mother’s favorite season, and that she spent much of it preparing treats, including caramel apples and chocolate-covered pretzels and marshmallows.
Leah Paley, the executive director of LARS, said Hoffman’s impact was felt even after her death. The family requested memorial donations be made to LARS and loved ones have collectively donated more than $4,000 thus far.
“Dawn Hoffman was a champion for her community,” Paley said. “She believed in giving back to those in need. The money raised allows us to continue to provide food, housing and hope to Laurel residents in need.”
The Laurel Historical Society will host its Holiday Open House this weekend, a perfect chance to purchase unique Laurel-themed gifts. The open house will held at the Laurel Museum, 817 Main St., on Friday, Dec. 6 and Saturday, Dec. 7, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 8, from 1 to 6 p.m.
Among the items for sale will be a city seal collectible ornament that celebrates the city’s 150th anniversary next year and a 2020 historic Laurel calendar. The city seal ornament is available for $20 and 20 percent of proceeds from its sales will benefit the city of Laurel’s 150th anniversary committee. Online shopping is available at laurelhistoricalsociety.org, and orders must be placed by Dec. 15 for Christmas delivery.
It’s also a great last chance to view the museum’s 2019 exhibition, “Is There a Doctor in the House: Laurel’s Healthcare Stories,” which will close on Dec. 22.
LHS will also host An Early Victorian Christmas event on Sunday, Dec. 22, at the museum. The event begins at 1:30 p.m. with a talk on early Victorian Christmas customs before actor Stephen Mead performs Charles Dickens’s classic “A Christmas Carol” from memory at 2 p.m. Admission is $10 and reservations are recommended by calling 301-725-7975.