The Holiday Spirit is the Spirit of Giving

“By Sandra Zunino

Need is more keenly felt during the holidays than any other time of year. Many local charities can use a helping hand either through donating time, gifts or money to benefit those less fortunate.

The Toys for Tots program, started in 1947 by the U.S. Marine Corp., collects toys for distribution at Christmastime to children who would otherwise go without. To accomplish this mission, they collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December from collection boxes at specified drop-off points, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to needy children from the local community.

The success of Toys for Tots depends on the support of the local community and the generosity of the people who donate toys. To participate, bring a new, unwrapped toy to the Long & Foster Real Estate office at 202 Thompson Creek Mall, Stevensville from Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. until December 15. To volunteer for collecting toys, call Gregory Manning at 410-556-6379.

Adopt-A-Bear, founded in 1991 by Klaus and Anne Liebig of Easton, is a program that provides wrapped gifts to needy children from local communities during the Christmas holidays. Volunteers place “bear trees” decorated with bear tag ornaments at various businesses and organizations throughout the community. Each tag lists a child’s first name, age, sizes and any special requests. Simply select a tag from the tree and shop for this child for the holidays and return wrapped gifts by the date specified.

After all the gifts come in, volunteers purchase and wrap gifts for children who were not adopted, using donated funds. Shop & Wrap Day takes place on December 13 at the old outlets at Kent Narrows with shoppers arriving at 9:00 a.m. and wrappers at 10:00 a.m. Contact Roseanne Squire, Co-Chair 410-758-0682 to volunteer for shop & wrap. Visit for more volunteer information.

For $10, you can purchase a light in memory of a loved one on the Chester River Hospital Center Tree of Lights. The annual Tree of Lights Ceremony takes place on December 4 at 5:30 p.m. in the hospital courtyard. The ceremony is a community event that has taken place for 21 years. The public is invited to gather for the tree lighting, songs and prayers. Following the lighting, a reception with light refreshments is held in the main lobby. A display case listing the names of those who are being honored as well as the contributors remains by the tree throughout the month. Names can be added through December by mailing in a contribution to the Chester River Hospital Center, 100 Brown Street, Chestertown, MD 21620. All proceeds benefit the Chester River Home Care & Hospice. For more information, call 410-778-3300 extension 4013.

Benefitting the local community can be as easy as choosing the right place to buy a Christmas tree. Until December 21, Boy Scout Troop #495 will be selling Frazier and Douglass firs and Scotch pines at Lowery’s Produce Stand on Main Street in Chester. The stand is open Monday through Friday, 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Funds raised by the sale will help pay for scout trips throughout the year.

Volunteer time is needed the entire year at many local charities. For a list of volunteer opportunities, or to add contact information to the list, visit the “”Places to Volunteer”” section at