Blair Garrett

Donating money to families in need is a cause just about everyone can get behind.

Dedicating the time and effort to make a family’s holiday season just a little bit better is a priceless gift, and one that has been felt by families in Thurmont for years now.

Each holiday season, the Thurmont Police Commission puts together a fundraising drive to help families in need. Whether it’s money for groceries, to pay the rent, or just to get a little girl a toy for Christmas, the goal is the same: To help someone less fortunate than yourself.

“The Thurmont Police Commission is a commission set up by the town of Thurmont, and we work in more of an advisory capacity and a helping capacity,” said Shawn Martyak of the Thurmont Police Commission.

The importance is not placed on who is being helped, but rather how they can be helped. The donations are all anonymously done, with the families typically receiving the holiday gifts from local churches.

“We don’t want to know personally who the families are, and everything remains anonymous,” Martyak said. The commission strives to donate not for the recognition, but solely to do something good for local people who need a little help. “We’re part of the community, and we serve on the commission because we elected to help our community, and we look at this as another avenue to do so.”

As they have done in the past, this year’s goal is to help as many families as they can, and their success is entirely driven on donations by individuals who are able to help and the business community.

Finding families to help was much easier before, but the commission has a “Never Say Die” attitude, which has kept this program around for several years now.

“A few years ago, the commission solicited some donations from local businesses, and then went through the local school system to identify some children and their families who might need some help during the holiday season,” Martyak said. “Privacy laws changed, and we couldn’t get any more information that way. The police commission then leaned on the local police department for help, but privacy laws once again put up a roadblock identifying needy families.”

The Thurmont Police Commission now goes through the ministerial community, who work closely with Thurmont residents, as a way of making sure the donations stay local and get to those who need it most. 

“The plan this year is to go through a local church and present everything we collect to the pastor of a church to identify some people in the community to help the families who they feel are the neediest and could use some help,” Martyak said.

The commission takes donations all the way through November and the first week of December, and will give VISA gift cards to local churches to help out during the holidays.

This is a special group of people who come together to make a difference in their community, and that is something Martyak and the rest of the police commission are proud of. “The neat thing about this is, everything we collect stays in our community, and to us that’s truly working together with our police departments, our business community, and everybody working together,” he said.

If you would like to donate to help out a family in need this holiday season, you can mail VISA gift cards to the Thurmont Police Department at 800 East Main Street, Thurmont, MD 21788, with attention to the Police Commission.

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