Give the gifts of time, talent and treasure

Sean Ballard of Baldwin wants to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas this year and avoid the commercialism that has dampened her spirits during past holiday seasons.

“I don’t need more possessions, and I’m very capable of buying anything that I want or need,” said the 51-year-old parishioner of St. Matthew, Northwood. “Instead of exchanging presents with family members who also have plenty, I’ve often thought it would nice to use that money to help others who are really in need.”

Places like St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore’s Fells Point meal program Beans & Bread are seeing more people donate their time, money and resources during the holidays and making that contribution their Christmas gift to a loved one.

The person gives money, commits to a few hours of work at the facility, or donates needed items for the homeless, said Kathleen Spain, director of Beans & Bread. Beans & Bread then writes a certificate that states the contribution was made on the specific individual’s behalf, she said.

“This is a great gift for that person who has everything and you struggle to find them a gift at Christmas,” Ms. Spain said. “A lot of people really appreciate it when they receive a certificate that says you made a donation on their behalf for people who really need help.”

For homeless resource centers like Beans & Bread and Catholic Charities’ Our Daily Bread in Baltimore, hygiene bags containing shampoo, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, razors and deodorant are great donations, said Teresa Ernst, a spokeswoman for St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore.

“Our programs need many items to give to those in need throughout the winter months,” Ms. Ernst said. “Some of those items include jackets, gloves, hats, scarves, blankets and sleeping bags.”

When donating time, a certificate can be written during the holiday season even if the service isn’t provided until later in the year, said Sue Elias, resource coordinator of Beans & Bread and a parishioner of St. Pius X, Rodgers Forge.

“We have needs year-round, not just at Christmas time,” she said. “They can schedule to come in anytime during the year. We have activities going on all of the time.”

People wishing to make a contribution or to volunteer their time at Beans & Bread as a gift should contact Sue Elias at selias@vincentbaltimore.org or call 410-732-1892, ext. 105 to make arrangements.

Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.