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.
Potomac is one of the wealthiest communities in the nation. The average family income in Potomac is $269,900, with 55 percent of married couple families in Potomac earning more than $200,000.
But close to 68,000 people (6.7 percent) in Montgomery County live below the poverty level. That’s $20,420 for a family of three. That’s about $1,700 a month. The median rent in Montgomery County is $1,627.
The children living in these families may be on the brink of homelessness, families who must choose between medical bills, car repair, heat and food. Some of 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.
Many nonprofits in the county need your help to provide a holiday meal for Thanksgiving or Christmas, to provide children with gifts.
There are literally hundreds, probably thousands, of ways to give locally this season. Here are a few ideas. We will rerun this list again after Thanksgiving, so please 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.
- 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, 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, is a leading provider of permanent housing, intermediate housing, emergency shelter, and supportive services for people experiencing homelessness. MCCH programs serve 1,600 men, women and children each year, providing 60 percent of the emergency shelter beds in the county.
- Shepherd’s Table, www.shepherdstable.org, 8210 Dixon Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20910, 301-585-646.
Shepherd's Table is a nonprofit organization in downtown Silver Spring, 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.
- Fisher House, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, www.fisherhouse.org, 111 Rockville Pike, Suite 420, Rockville, MD 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.