As families continue to struggle through a difficult economy, Baltimore County is reaching out to residents to help families in need this holiday season and one local business is on a mission to help them out.
Fullerton Self-Storage, 7989 Rossville Boulevard, is a drop-off location for the county's annual toy drive.
"We're very excited to be involved," said Kerrie Barresi, a manager at Fullerton Self-Storage. "It's a great opportunity to help out someone in need, especially a child around Christmas."
Anyone who wishes to donate a new, unwrapped toy at Fullerton Self Storage is welcome to do so during business hours — Mon.-Sat. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sun. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. In addition to toys, the business is also collecting hats, gloves and scarves to help families stay warm this winter.
The county toy drive kicked off on Monday at the Essex library, along with the county's Adopt-a-Family program.
According to the county Department of Social Services, 6,713 individuals benefitted through these programs last year. The need is expected to be even greater this year.
“We are in very difficult times right now, especially for children that don’t have an opportunity to open gifts during the holiday,” County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said at the kickoff. “We had a crush at the end of last season and it was difficult to meet the needs of all of those that needed assistance. We expect to help at least 7,000 this year.”
Among the items needed for donation include dolls of color, infant toys and gifts for teens. The average cost of a donation in previous years is $10 and social services requests that the price not exceed $20.
Families that have registered with social services for the program will have the chance to select gifts for their children at one of three county “toy stores,” located in Essex, Reisterstown and Woodlawn.
As for the Adopt-a-Family program, Kamenetz said, individuals, families and/or groups can get involved by contacting social services. The department will then help identify a family to help, which would include donating food for a holiday meal, a gift for each child and a piece of clothing for each family member.
“We have more and more kids in need and this effort is very important to address those needs,” said Tim Griffith, director of the county Department of Social Services.
Those interested in adopting a family can call the volunteer office at 410-853-3024. Those wishing to make a monetary donation can make a check payable to “Fund for Social Welfare,” and mail it to 6401 York Road, Towson, MD 21212.