- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 19, 2000

Andrea Jolly, director of the Montgomery County Volunteer Center, says she loves all the extra effort families make during the holidays to help the less fortunate, but she wishes sometimes that help were a little

more spread out through the rest of the year.

"People are just as hungry the day after Christmas," Ms. Jolly says, "and families may have a better experience volunteering after the holidays. They might not know what to do [during the holidays], but there is such a lull afterward that people might just decide they want to get involved then. It would be great to see some families use the holiday time to actually begin volunteering."

John Jackson, the executive director of the Gospel Rescue Ministry in Northwest, says he welcomes the extra turnout from volunteers around the holidays because it frequently "plants the seed" in families' minds that volunteering and helping the underprivileged can be an ongoing, year-round activity.

"That is the key thing," Mr. Jackson says. "The exposure that people get when they see how helpless some people are really changes them, I think. Even if it's a one-time thing, they're changed for the better, I think. And lots of times they want to get involved more often or on a more regular basis."

Ms. Jolly says there are plenty of opportunities in Montgomery County and around the metro area for families interested in extending their holiday volunteerism. Her center has a Web site (www.montgomeryvolunteer.com) with dozens of volunteer opportunities, including a calendar that shows daily and weekly activities. There are options for children of any age.

For families with young children who might be available during daytime hours, one opportunity area-wide is to deliver food for Meals on Wheels. It's something a stay-at-home mom and her young children can do.

"Families with older children can participate in an Adopt-a-Family program or a respite care program," Ms. Jolly says. She adds that many young single mothers need baby sitters for their children while they attend job-training classes at night. Baby-sitting provides another opportunity for families with older children.

"For families with children in the 15-, 16-, 17-year-old range, that is a great opportunity to help," Ms. Jolly says. "And here at the [Volunteer Center] headquarters in Rockville, we need kids one Saturday a month to give some of the other volunteers a much-needed break.

Duane Rosenberg, a certified public accountant in New Carrollton, says taking some short-term missions to Jamaica helped open his eyes to the needs of people around him. The trips were sponsored by his church, Cedar Ridge Community Church in Spencerville.

He says because of that and his overall Christian beliefs, he prefers to celebrate a much simpler, more traditional Christmas even while his wife, Kathy, and three children often celebrate the more contemporary way with gift buying and exchanging.

"I don't shop, Mr. Rosenberg says. "I don't get anything at all. I won't buy anything for my wife, and she is not offended. I don't get anything at all, and I'm not offended. I promote a simple lifestyle. But my wife loves to shop, and she does it all year long for Christmas. My 10-and 8- and 7-year-olds all put their wish lists together and do it all."

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