Many people pray for a white Christmas every Dec. 25. But come April 29, about 275 volunteers and homeowners will be praying for sunshine as Christmas in April Carroll County arrives bearing gifts.
Those gifts will be the labor and materials to rehabilitate 25 homes in Carroll County that belong to low- and moderate-income families, the elderly or handicapped.
The organization plans a one-day work blitz when volunteers will visit the designated homes to make repairs and improvements.
"We work very closely with the Bureau of Aging, Carroll Countgovernment, social services agencies, service clubs and churches and use them as referral sources for people who need help," said Jim Wise, public relations chairman for Christmas in April Carroll County.
The philanthropic organization has grown from helping five families in 1993 to 18 in 1994 and plans to help 25 this year.
The Carroll County group is part of an organization that was started in 1973 in Texas to help people who were unable to maintain their homes. Now a national organization, Christmas in April USA has chosen April 29 as Work Day 1995.
"We promote this as a one-day community blitz, but there are 11 months of preparation for it -- finding volunteers, getting materials donated and fund-raising," said Mr. Wise.
The Carroll County group has 250 volunteers who expect to start work early Saturday and stay until the homes are finished.
Work includes putting in new doors, windows, siding and gutters; painting; installing stair railings and handicapped ramps; laying new flooring; roofing; upgrading electrical wiring; insulating pipes; and replacing bathroom and kitchen fixtures.
About $45,000 worth of materials has been donated. Along with the labor, the value of the 25 designated homes will be increased by $150,000, Mr. Wise said.
"Local businesses are very warm and receptive in helping us," he said. "We're very much supported by the county government and the city of Westminster."
Some businesses outside Carroll also have contributed to the effort. Home Depot gave Christmas in April a $3,000 purchase grant at its Ellicott City store. The International Brotherhood of Electricians Local 24 is sending a crew of electricians to work on homes that need wiring.
Many volunteers are professional tradespeople who have offered their services for one day. They have been matched to homes that need work in their specialties.
Volunteer teams at each home will be directed by a house captain who will start the day with an orientation for the volunteers, a review of what needs to be done and instruction on safety. The house captains have been trained in directing volunteers and defining and handling the needs for each project, Mr. Wise said.
Preparation has begun on some of the homes, such as grading for a handicapped ramp so that it can be built in one day, Mr. Wise said. In some cases, professional tradespeople will be hired and paid from cash donations. Mr. Wise stressed that all of the work and materials are top quality and that each project must meet building code requirements.
"There is no paid staff or office. We're all volunteers," Mr. Wise said. "This is a story of compassion for your fellow man -- neighbors going out to help neighbors."
Christmas in April Carroll County has the materials and fTC volunteers it needs for this year, but donations of time, money and materials for next year are welcome. Anyone who wishes to become involved may call 795-4746.