As holidays arrive, share your blessings to help Catonsville's needy

The holiday season is upon us.

While nonprofits in the community serve those in need year-round, we're approaching a time of year when help is appreciated most.

As winter approaches, programs and services for those in need are preparing for a seasonal rise in the demand for everything from foodstuffs to clothing, a warm bed and meal, or payments to utilities or landlords for overdue bills.

Over the years, a network of area providers has formed and they communicate regularly to help people and fill gaps in government programs, including Catonsville Emergency Assistance.

Located on Bloomsbury Avenue, the nonprofit, which was formally founded 30 years ago, relies on assistance from service clubs, private donors and benefactors, and businesses for support throughout the year. A portion of its $114,000 annual budget comes from a county grant earmarked for "eviction prevention," providing rent payments.

Westside Men's Shelter, located on the campus of Spring Grove Hospital Center, is partnering with three churches to prepare meals during the last week of November, including Thanksgiving Day. Manager Michael-Sean Adams has sent out wish lists to community partners to ensure donations of coats, scarves and hats.

The shelter, which has 125 beds and an additional 25 reserved for days when the weather is extremely hot or cold has been at capacity for the past several months, he said.

Adams said 74 percent of those who stay at the shelter move on to permanent housing.

In fiscal 2016 — July 2015 through June 2016 —the shelter housed 240 men. This year, its on pace to serve as many, if not more, he said.

There are many other providers in the area that need help in the season of giving and shared blessings. They include:

Baltimore Humane Society — an independent, nonprofit, no-kill animal shelter, which offers low-cost veterinary care to the public, and a pet cemetery with grief support services. 410-833-8848 www.bmorehumane.org.

Wish list: Non-clumping cat litter, paper towels, dog treats, laundry detergent, dish detergent, latex gloves, science diet brand foods, treats (soft/chewy), peanut butter, Kong stuffing, vitamin C tablets for guinea pigs, Timothy Hay bedding, shredded paper, Carefresh Ultra (for small animals), janitorial supplies, Clorox Germicidal Bleach, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, mop heads, scrub brushes (with long handle attachment), spray bottles, dog toys, cat toys, cardboard cat scratchers, puppy pads and Feliway spray. For the Bmore Kind Pet Food Bank: Cat food (dry, any variety) and dog food (dry, any brand), (Opened or Closed bags are OK for the food bank). http://bmorehumane.org/donate/.

Believe In Tomorrow National Children's Foundation — provides hospital and retreat housing services for critically ill children and their families. The Believe In Tomorrow Children's House at Johns Hopkins offers families a sense of home where they can stay for days or weeks at a time while their child undergoes treatment or surgery for a life threatening illness. Believe In Tomorrow also offers families five beach and mountain retreat homes, which they can utilize year-round, free of charge, to renew their spirits and reconnect as a family. Believe In Tomorrow's unique programs bring comfort, hope and joy to critically ill children and their families. 410-744-1032. www.believeintomorrow.org.

Wish list: Keurig K-cups (coffee, tea, hot chocolate), granola bars, individual snack bags (chips, popcorn), individual cereal cups, Duraflame logs, paper plates, paper coffee cups and lids, plastic silverware, disposable food containers, paper towels, toilet paper, dishwasher detergent, Clorox wipes and furniture steam cleaner.

Casey Cares Foundation — provides uplifting and ongoing programs for critically ill children and their families throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. 443-568-0064. CaseyCares.org.

Wish list: $10 or $25 gift cards for Target, Walmart, Ledo Pizza, Pizza Hut, Red Lobster, Subway, Dunkin Donuts, Chick-fil-A, Panera. $10 or $25 gift cards for Redbox, AMC and Regal Theaters or Fandango. New, two-piece pajamas (adult and infant sizes are needed most).

The Franciscan Center — provides a broad range of services to people who are economically disadvantaged to assist them in moving toward a more self-sufficient lifestyle. 410-467-5340. www.franciscancenterbaltimore.org.

Wish list: Warm clothes (jackets, boots, socks, mittens, gloves, knit hats, scarves), toiletries (soap, shampoo, toothpaste, tooth brushes, wash cloths, deodorant, razors, shaving cream, etc.), non-perishable food for the pantry, children's Items (clothes, toys, formula, diapers), money to run the programs.

Gallagher Services — opening doors for individuals with developmental disabilities through group homes in the community and a medical day program. 410-252-4005. www.cc-md.org.

Wish list: Monetary donations made at www.cc-md.org/donatenow, bath towels [new], twin bed linens [new], blenders, food processors, cookware sets, flashlights, puzzles with large pieces, art supplies, office desks, office supplies, shrubs and flowers for landscaping, mulch, skill-building computer games, Nintendo Wii system, Wii games, karaoke machine with microphone, earphones [big], Sony Walkman or iPods [music players], colorful pictures to hang on the wall, heavy duty paper shredders, vacuum cleaners [commercial type], PC Computer w/ Microsoft office, printers, V-tech tablets.

House of Ruth Maryland — provides comprehensive services to victims of intimate domestic violence and their families. 410-889-0840. www.hruth.org.

Wish list: New wash cloths, wire hair brushes, deodorant, diapers (sizes 4, 5 and 6), new undershirts (sizes 24 months to 3T), new boys undergarments, all sizes (including men's for the older boys), new girls undergarments (size 2T-6X), new girls socks (toddler sizes), new socks and undergarments for women and children, new pillows, new twin-size blankets, comforters and sheet sets, new air mattresses, baby wipes, pampers (sizes 3, 4, 5 and 6, Pull-ups sizes 4T, 5T and 6T), crib sheets for small cribs and cots, crib sheets that fit mattresses sized 23 3/8 x 37 1/4 (not standard size), new infant and toddler sleepwear, infant and toddler toys, play mats, rattles, baby mirrors, stacking cups and boxes, Jack in the boxes, Lego duplo, Fisher-Price Learning toys, nesting blocks, new socks and undergarments for women and children, gift cards for grocery stores, gas stations, department stores (Walmart, Target, etc.) and non-perishable food (peanut butter and jelly, tuna, cereal, pasta, granola bars, juice boxes, etc.)

Maryland CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for children), 402 W. Pennsylvania Avenue, 3rd Floor, Towson, MD 21204 www.MarylandCASA.org /ed@marylandcasa.org. Provides more than 1,000 trained volunteer advocates for more than 1,500 children and youth who are under court protection due to abuse and neglect, ensuring their right to safe, permanent homes. Far more children and youth need our help.

Wish ist: gift cards (Target, Walmart, etc.) for holiday gifts for children and youth, as well as to help older foster youth who are leaving foster care to set up their own households, office supplies to assist youth in their job search or to pursue college, office/training supplies to train additional volunteers, etc. Tax-deductible donations are also welcome at http://marylandcasa.org/get-involved/make-a-donation/ or above address, and we are always in need of volunteers to serve as advocates, assist in the office, help with fundraising and public awareness, etc. (http://marylandcasa.org/get-involved/).

Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland — provides nutritious meals to homebound individuals since 1960. 410-558-0827. www.mealsonwheelsmd.org.

Wish list: Homebound Health Kits, adult diapers (Pull-ups: sizes M, L, & XL not tabbed), anti-bacterial liquid soap, adult wipes/towelettes, deodorant, body lotion, tissues, shampoo, comb/hairbrush, toothbrush/toothpaste, backup boxes, Boost or Ensure (plain, vanilla and chocolate), canned goods (corn, beans, stew, fruit, etc), canned chicken, tuna or salmon, crackers/cheese crackers, peanut butter/peanut butter crackers, cereal, mac 'n cheese jelly, single servings of fruit cups/applesauce, vegetable/ chicken noodle soups, fruit juice (single serving size), ultra-high temperature (UHT) milk, high protein items, dishwashing liquid, paper towels, laundry detergent, toilet paper, cleaning wipes, dish towels, flash lights, non-skid socks and magnet clips.

NAMI Metropolitan Baltimore — provides education, support, and advocacy to improve the lives of individuals and families impacted by mental illness in Baltimore City and Baltimore County. All programs are free, confidential, and peer-led. Donations can be made online at www.namibaltimore.org or by mail to 6600 York Road, Suite 204, Baltimore, MD 21212.

Wish list: Monetary donations and gift cards (Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Target, grocery stores) are needed to create a mental health education library and to support volunteer training. Volunteers are needed to share their time and talents in a number of roles, including program facilitators, mentors, presenters, and HelpLine volunteers. Contact volunteer@namibaltimore.org.

Salvation Army — The Salvation Army operates three Boys and Girls Clubs in central Maryland, which provide children and youth with educational, spiritual and recreational programs.

Wish list: cash donations, volunteers, sporting equipment, video games, educational material and beauty supplies.

St. Vincent's Villa — A residential treatment center that provides comprehensive therapeutic services to children whose behavioral and emotional needs have not responded to interventions and services provided at home or in the community. St. Vincent's Villa is located at 2600 Pot Spring Road, Timonium. 410-252-4000, ext. 1672. www.catholiccharities-md.org/st-vincents-villa/

Wish list: Stress balls, Lego sets, journals suitable for boys or girls (not notebooks), card games (Uno cards, Phase 10, Skip-Bo, playing cards), action figures, gift cards for children's activities (AMF Bowling, Regal Cinema, Red Zone, Pulaski Highway Go-Carts, Skateland, Baltimore Aquarium, Maryland Science Center), gift cards for off-ground dining (Subway, McDonalds, Burger King, Chick Fil-A, Pizza Hut, Coldstone Creamery).

United Churches Assistance Network — (UCAN) provides emergency financial assistance to families and individuals in the Northern Baltimore County area, to prevent evictions and utility turnoffs. Networking and referrals to other organizations also provided. Open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 410-628-2102.

Wish list: Money, gift cards to food stores, Target and Walmart.

—John Fischer contributed to this report.

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