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Help for the helpers Volunteers: When people want to aid the needy, local agencies can match them with jobs.


Doron "Bud" Antrim of Reisterstown never volunteered in his life, until Monday.

"My wife, Toby, and I thought about it a long time," said the 62-year-old insurance consultant. "Toby was a banking executive who couldn't find a job here. Our children are grown. We finally decided this holiday season, 'Let's do it.' But we didn't know what."

They called Hands on Baltimore, a mobilizer of volunteers, were given options and decided to help decorate rooms and serve food at the Children's House at Johns Hopkins Hospital, where families stay while their children are treated across Wolfe Street.

The Antrims, who moved here six years ago from Connecticut, are among many who feel enriched and stressed by gifts, relatives, feasts, the holiday spirit and, perhaps, guilt over those who have less this season.

"You see a lot of giving of service this time of year," said Erin L. Ferguson, executive director of Hands on Baltimore, which moves this week to new offices at 312 N. Charles St. "Some agencies need volunteers. Others are already booked up and need no more.

"Many people who never volunteered have a tough time with the first step," she said. "They don't know where to turn."

Hands on Baltimore and the United Way are among agencies that match people with jobs, offering help for the helpers. Groups themselves issue calls for aid. Agencies welcome people who get the itch to serve, even a fleeting seasonal one.

"Since the season of need never ends, the season of giving should never end," Ferguson said. "We feel strongly about that. We hope people keep coming back after the holidays."

She offered a sample of needs in the coming days:

Talking, reading, playing games, doing arts and crafts with often isolated or lonely residents at Keswick Adult Day Care, 700 W. 40th St., on Saturday mornings.

Cleaning, painting, tiling and basic refurbishing to make vacant houses livable, People's Homesteading Group, 410 E. North Ave.

Preparing and serving meals at the Children's House or at the Helping Up Mission, 1029 E. Baltimore St.

Those wishing to help at homeless shelters or food pantries in the state should contact Action for The Homeless for a referral, said Robert Hess, executive director.

For those calling United Way, Monica Martin, director of volunteer development, offers that agency's "Season of Sharing List," which includes almost 100 nonprofit groups seeking help from people interested in service, along with an even larger volunteer directory.

"We link needs to resources," she said. "We do customized matchups for people seeking special jobs in a face-to-face meeting." Interviews are at the United Way offices, at 22 Light St., which will be moved in early January to the NationsBank building, at 100 S. Charles St.

The "holiday wish list" includes ways of "making a difference" -- holding a party at a children's group home; playing Santa Claus at a nursing home; "adopting" a family for the holidays; preparing a holiday feast at a shelter; organizing a collection drive for toys, food, gifts or warm clothing, and painting a room in a shelter.

Blood donations and volunteer drivers are also being sought.

The American Red Cross needs drivers in the coming days to take blood in Red Cross vehicles from donation points to laboratory headquarters at 4700 Mount Hope Drive in Northwest Baltimore.

Terry Karloff, placement specialist, said, "We always need drivers, but we have a shortage this holiday season." Drivers also deliver teddy bears to children in 42 area hospitals.

Drivers must be 18 with at least two years of driving experience, must have a Maryland license and a clear driving record, must know the Baltimore-Washington area, must have the ability to follow maps and lift 30 pounds, and must be "reliable and punctual." Training is provided.

The Red Cross also said it needs blood supplies of all types. Prospective donors may give on Christmas Eve and on New Year's Eve from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Mount Hope Drive and at donation centers in Bel Air, Columbia, Glen Burnie, Lutherville and White Marsh.

They are asked to call (800) GIVE BLOOD any time from 8: 30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday to make a reservation at any of the six locations.

Through Saturday, people interested in working with food may bag low-cost food for area families at the Linthicum warehouse of SHARE Baltimore, 808 Barkwood Court, said Peggy Cronyn, its director. Two hours of community service, such as at SHARE, are a requirement of participants in this program.

Homebound people with acquired immune deficiency syndrome could use help this season, said Vicki Varsalone of Moveable Feast. She said the agency, which makes and delivers meals to more than 141 AIDS patients, wants helpers for all or part of the period from 7: 30 a.m. to noon Monday and Dec. 25.

Toby and Bud Antrim were at the Children's House Monday volunteering in separate rooms. "I'm better at cooking, so I'm helping with the pasta, and Bud is wrapping presents," she said.

They were working with the Hands on Baltimore coordinator, Erika Ange, and about 10 other volunteers. The Antrims promised that their foray into volunteerism was not a one-day wonder. "This service is just the start for us," he said, "not just a Christmas whim. It's time to give back."

Holiday volunteer opportunities

Action for the Homeless: Shelters around the state. Robert Hess, 659-0300.

American Red Cross: Terry Karloff, 764-4602.

Children's House at Johns Hopkins: . Onika Jervis, 614-2560.

Hands on Baltimore: Variety of agencies; Erin L. Ferguson, 547-8810.

Helping Up Mission: Larry Smith, 327-5296, or Ron Burke, 675-5016.

Keswick Adult Day Care: Ruth Yingling, 662-4311.

Moveable Feast: Vicki Varsalone, 243-4604.

People's Homesteading Group: 889-0687.

SHARE Baltimore: Peggy Cronyn, 636-9615.

United Way of Central Maryland: Variety of agencies; Monica Markham, 659-0050.

Pub Date: 12/18/96

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