By EMILY JACOB
It is the season of giving, with Thanksgiving right around the corner. While holidays are a time to get together with loved ones and celebrate delicious food and household traditions for many of us, it is not always the case for others. Holidays are also a time to give to individuals who may not be as fortunate, and supporting nonprofits can be an effective way to do so. Are you aware of the many nonprofits in the Laurel community? Here are just a few organizations doing fantastic work in various ways.
Icing Smiles provides elaborate custom-made cakes and treats to families with children who struggle with a critical illness.
“We understand that the simple things, like a birthday cake, are luxuries to a family battling illness. Our goal is to create a custom cake for the ill child, or their sibling, that provides a temporary escape from worry and creates a positive memory during a difficult time,” reads its mission statement.
Owner Tracy Quisenberry was inspired to create childhood memories and magic through homemade cakes when her son was sick for the first few years of his life, according to the website.
Icing Smiles welcomes volunteers to serve as Sugar Angels, baking cakes. They also rely on volunteers to host bake sales and always appreciate donations..
For more information about volunteer opportunities or to read about Quisenberry’s backstory go to icingsmiles.org
FISH of Laurel
FISH of Laurel is an all-volunteer food pantry and soup kitchen that has been serving homeless and low-income populations in the area since 1976.
Elizabeth “Betty” Colnaghi launched the nonprofit when she opened a food pantry in her basement. With the support of a volunteer team,, she initially offered food assistance, emergency financial aid and transportation. Twelve years later, the generous donation of a home, soon to be called Elizabeth House, allowed FISH of Laurel to open a soup kitchen. Staffed by volunteers, the kitchen provides hot meals and bagged lunches seven days a week..
FISH of Laurel relies entirely on food donations, financial contributions and volunteer service. In addition to providing meals, FISH of Laurel hosts food and diaper drives.
You can help FISH of Laurel by donating nonperishable pantry items, money or time. The organization also offers students community service opportunities.
For more volunteer opportunities, donation information or to get in touch with FISH of Laurel directly, go to fishoflaurel.org
Side by Side Inc.
Side by Side Inc. pairs volunteers from local churches with public schools in Prince George’s County with the goal of promoting students’ success in the classroom.
The initiative began in 2004, when the clergy association in Laurel connected with county schools to provide aid. Side by Side Inc. became a nonprofit organization in 2007.
Through their multiple partnerships, Side by Side Inc. provides the Laurel community with a range of services, including continuing-education courses for parents and teachers in Prince George’s County teachers and college-readiness support former Side by Side students when they reach high school.
Side by Side Inc. is seeking volunteers to serve on the organization’s board of directors, to work as tutors, and to assist with a broad range of other direct services, including helping students with meals and providing childcare. The organization also welcomes monetary donations.
For more information, including information about volunteer opportunities go to sidebysidelaurel.org
As the holidays approach, consider giving back to the community by helping out with one of these local nonprofits. You could even make it a family bonding experience by volunteering, as a group, to give your time and skills.