Celebrating Christmas in April


Over the past four years, Howard County's Christmas in April program has renovated more than 106 homes of low-income elderly and disabled residents. That's an impressive record for essentially a volunteer effort. It's a testament to every one of the 3,300 people who has donated time, money and material to this worthwhile endeavor.

This year's program, which culminates in a single day of renovation -- April 29 -- is expected to generate similar interest. Thirty-five homes are scheduled to be repaired. Anyone can volunteer, but organizations and businesses are encouraged to donate $1,500, provide a minimum of 20 volunteers or both. The Howard County Commission on Women, for example, has stepped forward to renovate a home -- all the work done by women. Teen-agers can volunteer, too, to satisfy their service requirement for high school graduation.

This is more than a vehicle to satisfy people's altruistic urges. It provides real assistance to residents who could not otherwise maintain their homes. It allows them to continue living in the community with comfort and dignity.

But the spirit of giving it generates is enormous. Last year, after a day of hard labor, volunteers and others involved in the Christmas in April program descended on Centennial Park to celebrate. More than 1,000 attended. To participate in this program, contact Christmas in April at 992-8614.

HISTORIC ELLICOTT CITY: Efforts by Howard County's Restoration Foundation and Historic Ellicott City Inc. to establish a visitors' center in the historic mill town deserve encouragement. Officials are negotiating to operate the center in space owned by the U.S. Postal Service on Main Street. The facility would dispense information on walking tours, restaurants and special events in the shopping district, which also features the B&O; Railroad Station Museum.

One of the perplexing shortcomings of the county has been a failure to adequately promote Main Street, a regional gem. It offers a bounty of riches both entertaining and educational. A well-run visitors center could dispense information in a coordinated fashion, assisting tourists and shoppers and helping ensure that the town's commercial district remains vibrant.

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