The annual panic has set in at Neighbors in Need, the charity that helps Carroll County's needy families celebrate Christmas.
Each year, program coordinators worry that there won't be enough donations to provide more than 1,000 local families with food and gifts on Christmas morning.
But somehow, everything always falls into place.
"I think Carroll County is a very generous community that very much wants to help their own, and I believe it will all come together," said Barbara S. Brown, coordinator of the Neighbors in Need program.
The program is administered by Human Services Programs Inc. It pairs low-income families with churches, schools and community groups that agree to adopt them for the holidays.
Families that aren't matched with sponsors are invited to shop at the Neighbors in Need holiday gift shop.
At last count, 1,017 families were registered with the program for assistance during the holidays, and 550 had been adopted. Brown expects about 100 more families to apply for help by next week.
"We have them register as early as September," she said. "By then, they already have an idea that they're going to need help."
Brown said cash donations to Neighbors in Need are running low again this year. She said the charity's move two years ago from a space in Cranberry Mall to a less-visible site has contributed to the decline in giving.
"People would walk by and see us and would buy something for our [holiday] shop," Brown said. "When people don't see us, they don't necessarily remember we're here."
Last year, Neighbors in Need spent about $15,000 on food vouchers and its holiday shop, and Brown expects this year's expenses to be about the same.
The charity needs cash donations to purchase food vouchers, clothing for infants and gifts for teen-agers. As gift donations, Brown suggests personal stereos or radios, cosmetics and hair accessories for girls and sports-related items for boys.
This year's holiday gift shop, staffed by volunteers, will be in a former garage at 211 Greenwood Ave. in Westminster, adjacent to the Circuit Court Annex. The shop will open at 9 a.m. Dec. 18 and 19.
Volunteers will guide more than 450 families through the gift shop and distribute food vouchers that can be redeemed at local grocery stores.
Shopping is permitted by appointment only, and families will be notified of their shopping times.
Donations of cash, toys or clothing to the Neighbors in Need holiday gift shop will be accepted from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. today, tomorrow and Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday.
For more information, call Human Services Programs at 857-2999.
Pub Date: 12/11/96