The holidays are about giving, and giving thanks. The holidays are about children and family. The holidays are about sharing, about joy. The holidays are about being thankful and about faith and appreciation. The holidays are about alleviating suffering for others.
Montgomery County is among the wealthiest areas in the country, and Potomac is one of the wealthiest spots in Montgomery County. Many if not most of us go through our usual routines without encountering evidence of needy families among us.
In Montgomery County Public Schools, 36.6 percent of the students are poor enough to qualify for subsidized meals. That’s more than 58,000 children.
These are children who are living in families who may be on the brink of homelessness, families who must choose between medical bills, car repair, heat and food. These are children who may not be sure that they will have a meal between the meals they get in school.
School holidays can bring uncertainty and hunger, a far cry from the celebrations, gifts and plenty that we associate with Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Hundreds of homeless students attend the public schools, and their needs are greater.
There are literally hundreds, probably thousands, of ways to give locally this season. Here are a few ideas. We will rerun this list again during the holiday, so let us know what we have missed. — Mary Kimm, firstname.lastname@example.org
Potomac: Where to Give Locally
* Manna Food Center, 9311 Gaither Road, Gaithersburg, MD 20877, 301-424-1130 www.mannafood.org
Manna Food Center, the main food bank in Montgomery County, strives to eliminate hunger through food distribution, education, and advocacy. Manna has distributed more than 43 million pounds of food to more than 2.7 million individuals. Manna provided food to 5 percent of Montgomery County residents this past year.
* Mercy Health Clinic, www.mercyhealthclinic.org, 7 Metropolitan Court, Suite 1, Gaithersburg, MD 20878
Mercy Health Clinic is a free, community-based volunteer organization providing quality healthcare to uninsured, low-income residents of Montgomery County. The clinic, located in Gaithersburg, depends on the expertise of volunteers, healthcare professionals and support from community partners to provide quality care to those in need. The clinic is staffed with medical professionals including family practice physicians, cardiologists, endocrinologists, nurse practitioners, nurse assistants, translators and behavioral health counselors. The free clinic serves around 2,000 patients annually through the efforts of more than 50 volunteer physicians and over 100 medical and administrative volunteers.
* Interfaith Works, www.iworksmc.org, 114 West Montgomery Ave., Rockville, MD 20850, Interfaith Works provides shelter, food, and clothing to low-income and homeless neighbors.
* Potomac Community Resources, http://pcr-inc.org/ 9200 Kentsdale Drive, Potomac, MD 20854, Phone: 301-365-0561 Potomac Community Resources, Inc. (PCR) provides therapeutic, recreational, social, and respite care programs for teens and adults with developmental differences, as well as information about community resources for families.
* Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless, www.mcch.net, 600-B East Gude Drive, Rockville, MD 20850 301-217-0314
Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless (MCCH), a community-based nonprofit organization, provides permanent housing, intermediate housing, emergency shelter, and supportive services for people experiencing homelessness. MCCH programs serve 1,600 men, women and children each year.
* Shepherd’s Table, www.shepherdstable.org, 8210 Dixon Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20910, 301-585-6463
Shepherd's Table is a nonprofit organization, supported by volunteers, religious organizations, government, businesses, foundations, and individual donors. Shepherd’s Table provides help to people who are homeless or in need by providing basic services, including meals, social services, medical support, clothing, and other assistance. Volunteer needed daily. https://shepherdstable.org/volunteer/
* Fisher House, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, www.fisherhouse.org, 111 Rockville Pike, Suite 420, Rockville, Maryland 20850, 888-294-8560
The Fisher House program supports members of the military and their families when they travel great distances for specialized medical care. Fisher House Foundation donates “comfort homes,” built on the grounds of major military and Veterans medical centers, including Walter Reed in Bethesda. These homes enable family members to be close to a loved one at the most stressful times.
* Friends in Action,
www.iworksmc.org/friends-in-action, 114 West Montgomery Ave., Rockville, MD 20850, 301-762-8682
Founded by Interfaith Works (formerly Community Ministry of Montgomery County) in 1986, Friends In Action recruits and trains a network of people from all faiths and ethnic backgrounds. Volunteer mentoring teams are linked for one year in a supportive relationship to a needy family in their community. The goal of the program is to help the family identify their strengths and develop attainable and manageable goals that guide them toward financial independence and personal well being.
* A Wider Circle
4808 Moorland Lane Suite 802, Bethesda, MD 20814; 301-608-3504; www.awidercircle.org/
A Wider Circle is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to help children and adults lift themselves out of poverty. A Wider Circle pursues its mission by providing urgent, basic need items to families transitioning out of shelters or simply living without life's necessities. It also goes into low-income schools, shelters, and community centers to lead free, educational workshops on topics ranging from job skills and financial planning to nutrition.
* Bethesda Cares, Inc.
7728 Woodmont Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814; 301-907-9244
Bethesda Cares Inc. is a community outreach program for the homeless. Its programs respond the needs of the Bethesda area homeless. It also works to keep people in their homes through through its eviction prevention program.
* Combat Soldiers Recovery Fund
3804 Williams Lane, Chevy Chase, MD 20815; 301-986-4851
The Combat Soldiers Recovery Fund has 501(c)(3) status. Contributions are tax deductible and aid soldiers wounded in service of our nation. It provides 100 percent of every donation directly to wounded soldiers recovering at military hospitals in the Washington, D.C. area. No overhead. No bureaucracy. Contributions from individuals and corporations provide immediate funds for the everyday needs of soldiers facing a long, hard recovery far from home. http://www.combatsoldiersrecoveryfund.org/