Those in Need to Get Help from City, Local Organizations

The holidays can be a stressful time especially for those in need, so several local groups are doing donation drives to help.

After Thanksgiving, the Kentlands Community Foundation will be hosting a Giving Tree inside the Kentlands Clubhouse. Each branch will have a wish list for gifts to local homeless families served by The Dwelling Place, a Gaithersburg-based non-profit dedicated to providing transitional housing, education, career enhancement and life and financial skills to those in need.

“The Kentlands Community Foundation has supported The Dwelling Place in the past,” said Mariann Zylstra, executive director. “We provide them with an annual donation after our 5K run with some of the proceeds … so we have a close relationship with them and we are going to support them with our holiday giving program this year by taking 50 of those gift requests, putting them on our giving tree in the Kentlands Clubhouse and filling those wishes. I think that will be great.”

KCF has done a Giving Tree in the past, usually getting a list of those in need from the city. This is the first year they decided to support a local organization with their tree. “I think it is going to be even more impactful to support one organization and their families,” Zylstra said.

Partnering with the Kentlands Manor Senior Apartments, KCF also will host a Tree of Warmth in the complex’s lobby area. They hope to collect hats, gloves, scarves and mittens, either new or freshly knitted, to be donated to the city for distribution to those in need. The effort is a way to engage the residents in giving.

Volunteerism and community outreach is one aspect of the non-profit’s mission. “At this time of year, it is important for us to reach beyond the borders of Kentlands and Lakelands and reach out into the community to give a helping hand to other people within the community that we serve,” she said.

The City of Gaithersburg is also gearing up for their annual Holiday Giving Program, which operates in conjunction with the countywide Holiday Giving Project coordinated by the county’s Department of Health and Human Services. Homeless and low-income individuals and families receive food, clothing and toys.

Maureen Herndon, the city’s community services division manager, estimates they will be aiding about 900 families and more than 2,000 children for both Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. The referrals come from non-profit agencies and school counselors with about 20 different organizations participating in the event.

The program helps to support those in need but also gives residents an opportunity to give back and support the community. “We have a lot of people that come forward not only with donations but to volunteer,” Herndon said. “It’s a win win. It’s supporting families that may be struggling temporarily or have been for a while and it’s giving folks the opportunity with their children in a lot of cases to give back to the community.”

The annual event relies heavily on donations and volunteers. “It would not happen without (them),” Herndon said. One new aspect this year will be gift bags for high school-aged youth who are in need.

Herndon notes that the pick-up distribution is always a very positive event between volunteers and families. “A lot of appreciation,” she said. “A lot of goodwill with each other. A lot learned because we have a whole area where we give out information on the city but also services available through our non-profits so people will pick up information. There is a lot of interaction that happens that way. Overall, we try to make it as upbeat and positive as possible. This year we are going to have music, have a Santa, and the volunteers that come forward are just fabulous. They are from all over the city. They make it special and comfortable for everybody.”

FYI

For the city’s Holiday Giving Program, folks can help by ….

  • Donating money to buy food, clothes and toys.
  • Donating new toys in the $15-30 price range.
  • Stuffing supplied holiday gift bags for high school-aged youth.
  • Donating new socks, gloves, hats and scarves.
  • Donating new infant/toddler clothing up to size 5T.
  • Volunteering time at the dinner, distribution site or the office.
  • Monetary donations may be made via PayPal on the city’s website.
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