Gaithersburg Gives Back
Gaithersburg’s Holiday Giving Program wrapped up the 2013 December season with a record number of families served– more than 900 households and 1,700 children. Referrals were made to the program through nonprofits and schools via a countywide system coordinated by A Wider Circle, Inc.
Thanks to the generosity and strong partnership between the city of Gaithersburg’s Community Services Division and local businesses, congregations, city employees and volunteer community members, this year’s program was a success despite the very high volume of referrals. “It is always amazing to see the partnership between congregations, businesses and individuals during this time. It’s even more amazing to see families walk away with presents for their children,” said Paula Bunge, a longtime volunteer program coordinator from Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. Bunge coordinated more than 175 volunteers working in excess of 1,245 hours.
The city of Gaithersburg Holiday Giving Program relies solely on donations from the community and volunteers to assist in the coordination of the program. Donors included: Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Grace United Methodist Church, St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, Journey’s Crossing, Pinky and Pepe’s Grape Escape, and Host Hotels. New sponsors joined the team this year to adopt families, and many others volunteered their time and resources to ensure there were enough toys for the children. Volunteers from Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, CCF Vida Abundante, Capital One, and the City’s High School Student Union helped coordinate the toy and gift distribution. A partnership with Toys for Tots was instrumental in supplementing the city with additional toys and assisting in the overall effort to make the holidays better for many local parents and their children. “Things happen when you least expect them, sometimes good, sometimes not so good. We have all experienced them both, but it’s a blessing to know that people we don’t know or organizations are willing to assist in the not so good times,” said one resident who received gifts.
2014 will mark the 20th anniversary of the Holiday Giving Program in Gaithersburg. With a 22 percent increase in referrals from a year ago and the anticipation that the number may increase, the City will begin planning its activities earlier this year. Program coordination will be expanded with the establishment of the city of Gaithersburg Holiday Giving Coalition. A broader recruitment of partners is planned. To learn more, please contact Lisette Orellana, Program Coordinator, Community Services Division at 301.258.6395 x2 or email@example.com.