THE GIFT OF GIVING

Community programs designed to help less fortunate; monetary, food and clothing donations most needed

(Dec. 7, 2012) The Ocean City Police Department, Marine Corps League First State Detachment, Worcester G.O.L.D. and the Worcester County Sheriff’s Department will again assist local families in need this holiday season, by collecting toys, food and monetary donations throughout the region.
Representatives from these organizations said they have noticed an increase in the number of people looking for a helping hand this year, most of them because of the poor economy, job loss or unemployment.

Toys for Tots:
The Marine Corps League, First State Detachment, has organized five luncheon/dinner buffets to promote the 2012 Toys for Tots campaign.
The remaining events are: Tuesday, Dec. 11, 5-9 p.m., at Slainte Pub & Restaurant, Route 54 next to Harris Teeter in Selbyville, Del.; Friday, Dec. 14, 6-9 p.m., at The Cove Bar & Grill, in Selby-ville, Del.; and Sunday, Dec. 16, 1-4 p.m., at Magnolia’s restaurant in Ocean View, Del.
Music will be provided by the band Imagine during all events.
The organization began hosting luncheons in the early 1990s, according to coordinator Jack Carey. In years past, admission for each buffet was either a $10 donation or a new, unwrapped toy of equal value. Since the quality of toys donated had decreased over the past few years, beginning in 2011 the organization only accepted a $10 contribution as admission to the buffets.
“[The quality of the toys] just wasn’t in the spirit of what we wanted,” Carey said. “We can do more with the money if we buy toys through the organization. Last year, the money [that was collected] enabled us to distribute more toys.”
Carey will send the monetary donations from the buffet events to the national foundation. In turn, he will receive a credit card to purchase toys locally. According to Carey, 98 percent of every dollar donated will be used to buy toys. Two percent goes to the national foundation to fund operational costs, expenses and for the salaries of about a dozen paid employees.
The First State Detachment has also set up boxes for toy donations at drop-off locations around the area. For a list of the approximately 40 designated spots in Ocean City, Ocean Pines and in Southern Delaware, visit http://ocean-view-de.toys
fortots.org/local-coordinator-sites/lco-sites/Default.aspx and click on “Toy Drop-Offs” or call Carey at 302-537-7272. The deadline to drop off toys is Wednesday, Dec. 19.
The group will distribute the toys to various organizations, churches, Delaware and Maryland social services and the OCPD, which will hand them out to families in the Ocean City and southern Delaware areas.
The First State Detachment has been collecting toys since 1998. The organization is based in Ocean View, Del., but meets at the VFW on 66th Street in Ocean City.
In 2011, the First State Detachment distributed 8,243 toys to 3,462 children.
“We’re finding the need is about the same if not slightly more than last year,” Carey said.
While the requests for toys have gone up each of the six years Carey has coordinated the local drive, the total donations received has kept pace.
The Toys for Tots program was adopted by the Marine Corps Reserve in 1947. In 2011, nearly 16 million toys were distributed to more than 7 million children nationwide.

OCPD Holiday Food and Toy Drive:
Founded in 1995 by Chief Bernadette DiPino, Ocean City’s food and toy drive is a family tradition she has carried on from her father and grandfather, who were both Baltimore City police officers. Members of the OCPD, with the help of community organizations, residents and businesses, are organizing the drive.
Last year, approximately 75 families, which included about 150 children, received toys and food, according to Mike Levy, public affairs officer for the department.
“The Ocean City community is extremely benevolent and generous,” Levy said. “They realize a lot of people are hurting this time of year.”
To qualify for assistance, families or individuals must be Ocean City residents or employed in town. People in need, but who do not live or work in the resort, will be referred to local churches or other organizations.
The department tries to help approximately 75 families each Christmas, depending on the number of donations received.
Levy said the police department began accepting names of people in need the week before Thanksgiving. As of Monday, the list included about 50 families and calls are still coming in.
Friday, Dec. 21, is the last day to donate toys and money to the drive. New, unwrapped toys may be dropped off at the Public Safety Building on 65th Street. Monetary donations will also be accepted at there, and at any Bank of Ocean City branch (account names are Town of Ocean City, Ocean City Police Department DBA-Holiday Food and Toy Drive).
Checks should be made payable to “OCPD Christmas Toy Drive.”
Donations may also be mailed to 6501 Coastal Highway, Ocean City, Md. 21842. The money collected will be used to buy additional toys and food for the families.
Toy donations have been coming in steadily. The department typically sees a huge influx of toy donations about a week before they are to be distributed.
The OCPD recently felt a boost in donations, as it was the beneficiary of the Ocean City Parrothead Club’s 14th annual Hots for Tots Chili Cookoff, held Dec. 2, at the Greene Turtle in West Ocean City. Guests donated several hundred toys during the fundraiser.
Donations will also be accepted during Fager’s Island’s annual “Customer Appreciation Party‚” tonight, Dec. 7. Guests are asked to donate a new, unwrapped toy or give a monetary donation for the police department’s drive. Members of the department will collect donations at the 60th Street venue. The party starts at 5 p.m.
The Greene Turtle on 116th Street will accept toys or a $5 donation for the OCPD during a holiday party on Monday, Dec. 10. The festivities begin at 4 p.m.
“We’re getting a lot of toys coming in, but money has been coming in slower than normal,” Levy said. “Toys are always awesome, but cash allows us to provide food to these folks.”
Typically, between $5,000 and $6,000 is in the account by this time, Levy said. As of Dec. 3, there is about $2,500 in the fund.
All toys will be distributed to families on Saturday, Dec. 22, at 8 a.m. at the Public Safety Building. Families will also receive a large food box or grocery store gift cards, depending on the amount of monetary donations the OCPD has received prior to that date.
“The drive is twofold: to distribute toys and to make sure people have a hot meal on Christmas and do so as a family,” Levy said.
For more information, to refer families or to volunteer on Dec. 22, contact Levy at 410-723-6665 or call OCPD Records Section Supervisor Michelle Monico at 410-723-6631, or Records Technician Tim Coyle, 410-520-5105.

Worcester G.O.L.D. “Helping Hands for the Holidays”:
This Worcester County G.O.L.D. (Giving Other Lives Dignity) program is now in its 16th year. According to Director Darlene Onley, between 50 and 60 county residents asked for assistance that first year. Last year, 946 people (about 320 families) benefited from the program during Christmas.
To make sure all needy families in the area are recognized each holiday season, G.O.L.D. crosschecks its list with other organizations to make sure everyone receives something.
Onley began taking names in early October. There are many new families on her list this year as well as some familiar names. Because Worcester G.O.L.D has such a small staff and limited space, the organization set Dec. 3 as a cutoff date for accepting names, but she will still take emergency cases. On Monday, Onley said about 1,150 people (approximately 360 families) were on the list to receive assistance this year.
“We’ve never had that many families on our list. There’s a lot of need,” she said. “This is a bigger year than what we’re used to and it’s going to take more money. No family will ever not get help if they are on our list.”
The Worcester G.O.L.D. “adopt-a-family” program provides the basic needs and Christmas presents for local children and families, youngsters in foster care and vulnerable adults (single senior citizens and those adults requiring assistance), all referred by social workers, case workers at the Worcester County Health Department, county schools and clergy.
People can still adopt families or individuals and supply them with toys, gifts, food and everyday items. Donations of food, clothing and toys are always welcome. The emphasis is on meeting the basic needs and what is indicated on the family’s wish list. At this time, more than 100 families are without sponsors.
“We try to match a community sponsor with a family in need. When we run out of sponsors our volunteers will shop for those who haven’t been sponsored,” Onley said. “We have the most generous community. They always come through for the children. It’s the people who give, they are the ones who make it happen.”
For the fourth consecutive year, the Ocean City/Ocean Pines Elks Club has sponsored a coat drive for Worcester G.O.L.D., as many people have asked the program for warm coats. Last year, 150 coats were donated.
For more information, contact Onley at 410-677-6830 or visit www.WorcesterGOLD.org. Checks can be sent to Worcester County G.O.L.D. at P.O. Box 39, Snow Hill, Md. 21863.

Worcester County Sheriff’s Office Christmas Needy Program:
For about 30 years, the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office has assisted less fortunate families during Christmastime.
Coordinator Dena Holloway said 525 county families (about 1,001 children) and 45 senior citizens were on the Needy Program Santa House list requesting assistance as of Monday, and calls were still coming in. She began gathering names in early September.
In 2011, toys, food and clothing were handed out to 579 families, which included 1,982 children. Seventy-nine senior citizens also received assistance. Many new families are asking for help this holiday season as well as ones that have in the past.
She estimates the list will grow to between 600-625 families.
“There’s more of a need this year. It’s so sad. People are asking for clothing and stuff to keep them warm more so than toys,” Holloway said. “A lot of people who have helped us out before and gave donations are now on the list.”
Families or individuals in need are referred to the program from schools, churches, the health department, county agencies and civic organizations. Holloway compares her list to those of other organizations to make sure there are no duplicates. Toy, food and monetary donations are accepted all year because the organization has the storage space to accommodate those donations.
Toys are coming in steadily, but financial contributions are lagging, Holloway said. Food donations, including canned and dried good, are also low.
“We have such a great community and I know it’s all going to come together. I have faith,” Holloway said.
Tyson Foods has again donated 400 chickens to help fill food boxes for Christmas.
Mountaire Farms in Delaware has signed on to assist this year and will put together food boxes for families.
Nonperishable food, toys, clothing and other items, for infants to senior citizens, can be taken to drop-off sites, including Calvin B. Taylor banks, Worcester County Liquor Control Board building in Snow Hill, Dollar Tree in Berlin and Denovo’s in Ocean Pines.
Several schools are also conducting food and toy drives for the organization.
Donations can also be taken to the Santa House at 5363 Snow Hill Road in Snow Hill. Mail monetary contributions to Worcester County Sheriff’s Office, 1 W. Market St., room 1001, Snow Hill, Md. 21863, Attn: Santa House.
Food and gifts will be distributed on Thursday, Dec. 20. For more information or to adopt/sponsor a family, call 410-632-4924.

 

Showing off just a few of the several hundred toys donated to the Ocean City Police Department’s Christmas Toy Drive during the Parrothead Club’s 14th annual Hots for Tots Chili Cookoff at the West Ocean City Greene Turtle on Dec. 2 are Sgt. Ronnie Townsend and Public Safety Aide Leslie Santiago.

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