No longer will new Severna Park residents have to grapple with questions of where to buy a bottle of hand lotion, a stack of business cards or a box of chocolates.
The Greater Severna Park Chamber of Commerce and its members are joining forces to make 100 "welcome" bags for new residents.
"It's kind of a housewarming gift," said Linda Zahn, executive director of the chamber. "We want to start them off on the right foot."
The small bags, which should be ready for distribution next week, will be available at area banks, real estate firms and insurance companies. They will contain goodies and coupons donated by local stores and companies.
"It's a way for our members to show what they have to offer to people who don't really know the area," Ms. Zahn said. "And we hope that newcomers go to the local businesses because many of the store owners are their next-door neighbors."
Susan Lynn, owner of Chocolates From the Heart on Ritchie Highway, said she donated 2-inch pieces of flavored candy dipped in dark chocolate as "a sweet treat to welcome people to the area."
"I think it's sad that people aren't welcomed into a new place," she said. "I think it's an important thing that we lost in this transient age."
Betty Wells, owner of Academy Imprints on Baltimore-Washington Boulevard, an advertising and promotion company, said she donated about 100 pot holders, ice scrapers, and mini-flashlights to encourage newcomers to shop in Severna Park. "We certainly would like them to look to the community as the first source for supplies," Mrs. Wells said.
Ms. Zahn said the Chamber of Commerce's promotions committee conjured up the idea of the bags. She also said the group chose banks and real estate offices as locations for the bags because of their first-contact status with newcomers.
"Those are the places people coming to the area first touch base with," she said. "This is a chance to take advantage of that."
Ms. Zahn said she would also give bags to local community associations to give to new residents.
Jackie Colestock, a Pasadena-based independent beauty consultant for Mary Kay Cosmetics, said she participated because she has a large clientele in Severna Park.
"It's another way to get my name out and introduce people to the quality of my products," said Ms. Colestock, who gave about 100 .75-ounce bottles of hand lotion. "And hand cream can be used by anybody -- especially this winter."