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Share your blessings with others during holiday season

As we come to the close of another year that has seen improvement on the economic front, there are still many who struggle to make ends meet. Throughout the area, there are dozens of local nonprofit groups who are committed to serving those in need. These groups can always use our help. Below is a listing of local helping organizations seeking donations of either money or items, or both. In this season of giving and Thanksgiving, please share your blessings, by giving to those less fortunate.

• Oaklands Presbyterian Church has a food pantry on-site and can always use donations of food and/or money for residents who are in need of help.

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Wish List: Canned chicken, canned soup, canned tuna fish, canned vegetables, pasta and sauces, peanut butter and jelly, breakfast cereal, macaroni and cheese, other staples. Donations can be dropped off during office hours, Tuesday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at 14301 Laurel Bowie Road. 301-776-5833.

• FISH of Laurel Inc./Elizabeth House helps needy neighbors in the greater Laurel area by providing dinners, groceries, and referral services. Mailing address: FISH of Laurel Inc., P.O. Box 36, Laurel, MD 20725-0036. Street address: 308 Gorman Ave., Laurel, MD 20707. fishoflaurel.com. Form of contact preferred: Email - webmaster@fishoflaurel.org General information: 301-776-9296. Help Line: 301-262-7106

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Wish List: Desperately need a team of volunteers who can check in and distribute food pantry orders during Thursday mornings, a person who can research and write grant proposals for financial assistance, and a person who can assist our Board President as Vice President. Also need cash donations and nonperishable food items all year long.

• Laurel Advocacy and Referral Services is a non-proselytizing ecumenical ministry serving the greater Laurel area by assisting homeless and low-income individuals or families experiencing crisis with emergency and long-term services designed to promote self-sufficiency. LARS is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and Monday evenings, from 5 to 7:30 p.m., 311 Laurel Ave. General donations can also be made to help fund programs such as eviction prevention and utility assistance. Make checks payable to LARS; to donate online, go to laureladvocacy.org and click on Donate.

Wish List: All families have been adopted for this year's LARS Holiday Program. However, donations of loose gifts, grocery cards and food are needed. Volunteers with weekend availability are needed as well as volunteers for Holiday Food/Gift distribution on Dec. 19.

• Side by Side hosts close to 100 workshops a year for parents at local elementary schools, equipping the parents to practice learning activities with their children at home as partners with schools to promote their children's success in the classroom. 424 Main St., Laurel, MD 20707, 202-710-5555, sidebyside@sidebysidelaurel.org. sidebysidelaurel.org.

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Wish List: Advice and support from a trained fundraiser.

• Laurel Cats is a nonprofit community effort to find and implement ways for outdoor "community" cats to live harmoniously alongside people, their homes and their businesses throughout Laurel, while humanely reducing their numbers. For information or to volunteer, contact Helen Woods, 301-886-0161.

Wish List: Volunteers are needed, especially outgoing people willing to help knock on doors to get the word out to the poor about free spay and neuter. Spanish-speaking, bilingual translators also needed. Donations of cat food, especially wet food, and money to pay for spay and neuter needed. Small donations can be dropped off at Spay Now Animal Surgery Clinic at 7401 Van Dusen Road. For pickup of larger items, contact info@laurelcats.org or call 301-886-0161. Monetary donations can be sent to Laurel Cats, P.O. 57, Laurel, MD 20725.

• DDM Insurance is collecting funds and supplies for the Laurel Pregnancy Center, which provides pregnancy tests and other confidential services. The Laurel Pregnancy Center does not recommend, refer or provide for abortions or abortifacients. Donations may be dropped off Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at DDM Insurance, 10732 Baltimore Ave., Twin Chimneys Office Park, Beltsville, by Dec. 11. Questions, 301-937-1500.

Wish List: Diapers (sizes 4, 5 and 6), baby wipes, onesies (sizes NB, 0-3 months, 3-6 months), infant hats, receiving blankets, pacifiers, baby lotion, bibs, infant socks and booties, infant toys, infant books, infant washcloths and towels, burp cloths and baby powder.

• Sarah's House is a supportive housing program for homeless women, children, and men in Anne Arundel County, providing case management, child care, transportation and employment services at Fort Meade. The organization has a variety of volunteer opportunities for individuals, families, businesses and groups of all faiths and ages, and works with volunteers to find opportunities that match skills, talents and interests. Specifically, volunteers are needed to prepare breakfast, lunch or dinner for shelter guests. Host a weekend family activity (ice cream social, movie night, etc.). Assist with front desk/clerical duties (weekday mornings, afternoons, and early evenings). Assist with FLASH after school homework program during the week from 5:30 p.m. until 7 p.m. (excellent opportunity for high school students). Organize a 'Wish List' drive for needed in kind donations.

Wish List: Ongoing need for donation of items such as large diapers, baby wipes, general cleaning supplies, bathroom tissue. For those wishing to donate holiday gifts, we encourage items for our teenagers. For more information or to schedule volunteer orientations, call 410-519-5085 or email kphillib@cc-md.org.

• HopeWorks of Howard County (formerly Domestic Violence Center) reduces the harm and effect of sexual and domestic violence in Howard County while working toward their elimination. Further information at WeAreHopeWorks.org.

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Wish List: Nonperishable food, cleaning products, toiletries, baby products always needed for year-round pantry for clients. Contact Peter Olthoff, 410-997-0304 or polthoff@wearehopeworks.org, if interested in helping a family in need of holiday donations.

•Hospice of the Chesapeake's mission is to care for life throughout the journey with illness and loss by providing physical, psycho-social and spiritual support services to individuals living with and affected by advanced illness. These services are provided wherever the patient calls home. Volunteer Department, 443-837-1549 or toll free, 800-745-6132. Hospicechesapeake.org.

Wish List: Volunteers needed in Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties with 4-wheel drive vehicles to assist patients and staff with transportation during inclement weather conditions. Active Duty Military Personnel are needed to perform Honor Salutes for our Veteran patients. Veterans and Active Duty Military Personnel also needed for our Veterans-to-Veterans program. Also needed are Volunteers in many capacities – from Patient Care to Administrative. Participants are needed to purchase household items for our new Inpatient Care Center in Pasadena. Click on our Center Warming Gift Registry at bedbathandbeyond.com/store/page/Registry. Fill in "Hospice" for the first name and "Chesapeake" for the last name.

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• Toys for Tots, sponsored by the local Marine Corps Reserve, is a toy drive for underprivileged children. Local drop-off locations: ZIP code 20707: Academy Ford, 13401 Baltimore Ave., M-F, 8 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sat., 8 a.m.-6 p.m. through Dec. 22; American Legion Post 60, 2 Main St., noon-9 p.m. through Dec. 18); Aquilent, 1100 West St.,8 a.m.-5 p.m. through Dec. 18 ; Chesapeake Math and IT Academy North, 6100 Frost Place, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. through Dec. 14; JHCP at Laurel, 14207 Park Center Drive, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. through Dec. 21; Kids First Swim Schools, 909 Washington Blvd., 9 a.m.-8 p.m. through Dec. 24; U-Store Self Storage,13303 Baltimore Ave., M-Sat., 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; ZIP code 20708: Park View at Laurel I and II, 9000 Briarcroft Lane, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. through Dec. 18; ZIP code 20724: TJ Maxx, 3411 Fort Meade Road, 9:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. through Dec. 15; Russett Community Center, 3500 Russett Common, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. through Dec. 15; and Dreyfuss Management Ashley Apartments, 3472 Andrew Court, M-Sat., 9 a.m.-6 p.m. through Dec. 15. For other locations, go to toysfortots.org.

Wish List: Children's toys for Prince George's and Anne Arundel counties Toys for Tots Campaign and members of the community to help with the campaign.

• Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center is an emergency shelter, a 24-hour phone and walk-in crisis center and an educational resource for all, 6700 Freetown Road, Columbia 21044, 410-531-6006. Contact Kathie DiNoto, 410-531-6006 or kathie@grassroots.org. grassrootscrisis.org.

Wish List: Gift cards to Walmart, Target, Giant Food, diapers (Size 4 and 5), pull-ups, baby wipes, new pillows, twin size sheets, twin size blankets, bath towels and wash cloths. New sport shirts (Ravens, Redskins, Steelers, Terps) for adults and teens; new pajama sets, bath robes and slippers for men and women. Cleaning supplies: disinfectant, cleansers, laundry detergent, fabric softener sheets and bleach. Paper products: plates, bowls, cups for hot and cold drinks, plastic utensils, paper towels, napkins, foil wrap, food storage bags and food freezer bags.

• The Arc of Howard County is achieving full community life for adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities ~ one person at a time.

Wish List: Android tablets, small hand-held percussion instruments, laundry detergent, children's and young adult books, electric can opener, digital camera and a variety of arts and crafts supplies such as glue sticks, crayons, scissors, card stock, construction paper, modeling clay, etc. Volunteer requests: Musicians, singers or dancers to share music with adults in our day program. An arts and crafts teacher for occasional art activities with individuals in our day program. Contact Lisa Kawata at 410-730-0638 or lkawata@archoward.org. archoward.org .

•Success In Style provides free business wardrobes and coaching to disadvantaged men and women seeking employment. Successinstyle@verizon.net. successinstyle.org. Proceeds from Charity's Closet, a thrift boutique for women and teens, Phil's Closet, men's resale store, and Cherie Amour, a bridal resale, all benefit the mission of Success In Style. Charity and Phil's, open for shopping and donations drop-off, are located at 8600 Foundry St., New Weave Building, main level, at Savage Mill, in Savage. 301-498-5035.

Wish List: Adult and teen clothing donations for men and women especially extreme small and large sizes; jewelry; handbags, new undergarments for men (T-shirts, briefs and boxers); new dress socks for men; queen-sized panty hose and knee highs in black and brown; women's shoes and men's shoes. Also need wedding dresses, brides maids and mother of the bride dresses, evening gowns and shoes, veils, jewelry and tuxedos. Volunteers are needed for all of our operations, which raise funds for Success In Style. Current or retired professional men and women who are interested in a rewarding opportunity to give back to the community can train to consult clients to create a professional interview image. Contact Jeannette Kendall at 301-498-5035 or successinstyle@verizon.net.

• Operation Welcome Home (MD) provides a hero's welcome four times a week at BWI Airport to military personnel returning home from the War on Terror. Since 2007, OWHMD has greeted over a half million Sailors, Soldiers, Marines and Airmen. Assembly lines are set up and snack bags are made prior to the arrival of our service members. For a list of the dates of OWHMD events, go to operationwelcomehome.org or call 410-630-1555 any time after 9 a.m. for the most up to date information. Contact Kathy Thorp at navyfam6@comcast.net or 410-757-0982 for questions.

Wish List: Volunteers, all ages, to help by cheering, clapping, shaking hands and saying thanks. Community organizations, schools, scouts, church groups and individuals to lead a collection drive of water or a snack drive for snack bags. Volunteers to help decorate the International terminal, location for the events. With the Holidays approaching, OWHMD is involved with Wreaths across America and encourages volunteers to join them on Dec. 11 at the U.S. Naval Academy cemetery. Sponsor a wreath for $15, tax deductible. For each wreath sponsored, $5 is provided back to OWHMD to help with purchase of snack items when inventory runs low. Go to wreathsacrossamerica.org and click the local tab, and enter Operation Welcome Home Maryland.

• Neighbor Ride is a volunteer-driven nonprofit that helps Howard County senior citizens stay active, independent and connected to the community by providing transportation for medical appointments, social outings, religious services, fitness activities, educational pursuits, shopping and other personal needs. neighborride.org.

Wish List: Volunteer drivers are especially needed now, as demand for our transportation service continues to grow. Daytime, evening and weekend volunteers are needed and drivers may choose to provide rides that are convenient to their homes, offices and daily routines. No set schedule is required. Parents are also welcome to bring their children along when volunteering for a wonderful inter-generational experience. Contact Patrice Cerwonka or Holly Waddell at 410-884-7433 or volunteer@neighborride.org.

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• Maryland Therapeutic Riding is a premier Accredited Therapeutic Riding Center that offers therapeutic horseback riding lessons for children and adults with physical, mental and emotional disabilities.

Wish List: During holiday season, volunteers are needed to provide loving care to horses and assist with facility projects and barn maintenance while riders are away. Year round, volunteers, ages 14 and up, needed to assist with riding lessons and throughout the week to assist with horse care, barn and facility maintenance. For more information about volunteering, go to horsesthatheal.org or contact Julianne at volunteer@mtrinc.org or call 410-923-6800.

• Volunteer Center Serving Howard County Guide to Giving 2015 is a resource for volunteering and donating during the holidays. To access the guide, go to volunteerhoward.org and click on the 2015 Guide to Giving to view online or download. 410-715-3172.

Wish List: Holiday volunteer and donation needs of 30+ local nonprofits are listed in guide. Opportunities range from wrapping presents, delivering meals and holiday visits to donating food, gifts, clothing and gift cards.

• Volunteer Center for Anne Arundel County's Holiday Volunteer Guide 2015 includes a variety of volunteer opportunities along with charitable organizations' wish lists for items that can make a real difference for people who are less fortunate. Volunteer to help people, make new friends, brighten holidays for the homeless, volunteer with family, learn about community, earn community service credits and have fun. Receive a free copy at Volunteer Center, 2666 Riva Road, Suite 130, Annapolis, MD 21401, or by sending request to ask.aacvc@outlook.com. View on website or download from aacvc.org/resources.

Wish List: Gifts of time and in-kind donations for charities listed in the Holiday Volunteer Guide.

• The Woman's Club of Laurel is a volunteer organization committed to making improvements in the Laurel community. The club provides small weekly food bags to 20 "food insecure" children at Scotchtown Hills Elementary. The bags contain breakfast items for two days, lunch items, a snack and something to add to a "family meal" as well as fresh fruit, milk and a drink. All food is prepackaged, kid-friendly and nutritious. The food is purchased by the club, packed and delivered to the school weekly for distribution. These children currently receive free and reduced meals at school (FARM). The students remain anonymous to the club and are chosen by the school guidance counselor.

Wish List: Monetary donations or grocery store gift cards to continue to fund this project through the entire school year. The GFWC Woman's Club of Laurel is an IRS designated 501(c)(3) organization. Donations are fully tax deductible. For more information, contact Kathy Hanns, sweetbabo2@aol.com. Donations may be mailed to Linda Hammil, 6456 Skipton Drive, Hanover, MD 21076. Please make checks payable to the Woman's Club of Laurel.

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