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Beyond donative intent: bar associations celebrate season with service (80413)

Not only is this the season to be jolly, it’s a time to be proud of the legal profession.

Attorneys across the state are celebrating the holidays by serving their communities —playing “angel” to needy children, providing books for those who can’t afford them, stuffing backpacks with clothing and toys, building a house for a homeless family and making a dream come true for a sick child who may have few tomorrows.

The Maryland State Bar Association collected 20 boxes of toys, food, clothing and household supplies for the largely homeless patrons of Grace and Hope Mission on Gay Street.

“We’ve been doing this for about eight years, and it grows every year,” said Janet Stidman Eveleth, the MSBA’s director of communications. “One person even brought in a bike this year.”

The Young Lawyers Division of the Baltimore City Bar Association was not to be outdone.

“We brought in four busloads of children from homeless shelters,” said Jodie Ebersole, chair of the division and an attorney with St. Paul Co.

In what has become an annual tradition, the young attorneys collected contributions from area law firms and treated about 240 children and their parents and guardians to dinner on Dec. 12.

“There were so many folks there, we had to have three different seatings for dinner,” Ebersole said.

Each child received a backpack.

“We filled the backpacks with clothing, hats, mittens, crayons, activity books and toys,” said Ebersole. As a special treat, the party organizers arranged for the children to meet Orioles bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks, Ravens running back Priest Holmes, and Poe, the Ravens mascot.

“I haven’t seen kids that excited in a long time,” Ebersole said.

“This is great!” – Joe

Attorneys in nearby Towson filled the circuit court library at lunchtime on Dec. 7 to donate more than 517 books to needy children at an event organized by the Young Lawyers Committee of the Baltimore County Bar Association.

The books were delivered during the holidays by the county’s Department of Social Services.

“These are our major book donors,” DSS Director of Volunteer Services Deborah Ward said of the attorneys as she stood by a Christmas tree that was surrounded with books such as “Jack and the Beanstalk,” “A Home for Alphie” and “101 Dalmatians.” “I was raised as an orphan and no one ever read to me.”

“This is an easy event to put in place because everybody is so enthusiastic about participating,” said Michael Hamburg, chairman of the Young Lawyers Committee. “It’s a great way to give back to the community.”

For the fourth year in a row, attorneys in Prince George’s County raised money — $12,000 this year — for the Make a Wish Foundation. The money goes to fulfill the wish of a terminally ill child. (The child’s name is kept confidential and even the bar association isn’t told the name.)

This year’s recipient will take his family on an African safari, county bar association President Richard L. Jaklitsch said.

Across the line in Montgomery County, the bar association collected toys for the U.S. Marine Corp’s Toys to Tots program, said bar association President John P. Kudel.

But that’s just the start of the group’s charity. As soon as the winter weather lifts, Kudel said, the lawyers will start building a house for a homeless family.Snow angels

In Annapolis, the local bar focused on children in Admiral Oaks, one of the capital’s poorer neighborhoods.

The names of about 100 children (along with the child’s age, size and favorite colors) were put on angel-shaped cards, which were placed on the “angel tree” in the circuit court building, said Anne Arundel County Bar Association Executive Director Fran Czajka. Attorneys and courthouse staff members selected cards and bought gifts for that child.

The children gathered at the Admiral Oaks community center on a snowy evening this week to enjoy tasty treats and receive the gifts that Circuit Court Judge Nancy Davis-Loomis handed out.

“These kids are so lucky to have so many people in the community who care about them,” said Kara Callahan, community services coordinator for Admiral Oaks Apartments.

The children were to take their gifts home to open, but some couldn’t resist a peek underneath the wrapping. After the party, “Joe” frolicked in the falling snow, drew in a deep breath of cold air and reminded onlookers why all the fuss was worthwhile.

“This is great!” Joe said through a grin.