The strings of colorful lights are now dark. The tree is no longer decorated. Bright sheets of wrapping paper are now crumpled and torn.

As many of us begin to feel those winter blahs, that so dampen the good spirits of Christmastide, area churches have a solution.

Arbutus United Methodist Church's spirit-builders want to help chase those blues away. On Sunday, Jan. 20, a "Winter Wonder" event begins at noon at the church, 1201 Maple Ave. Luscious lunch fare precedes an inspiring family movie and fun crafts worship with projects for all ages. Individuals pay $5; families pay $10. Reservations preferred.

Call 410-242-9029.


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Missions-minded members of Christ Deaf Church are raising funds for a summer journey to Africa. Homemade crafts, delicious candies and supper tickets for upcoming meals are on sale now. Stop by the church, 1040 South Beechfield Ave., any Sunday morning. You may even share lunch with this welcoming flock.

Call Maria Schuberth, 410-242-6303 V/TTY, for more information or to make a purchase.

The Rev. Claire Fiedler brings Biblical good news for a new year to Halethorpe-Relay United Methodist Church, 4513 Ridge Ave. Sundays, 9:45-10:45 a.m., an adult's journey by grace toward works of mercy. On Mondays, 7:15-8:30 p.m., peruse the short letters of New Testament writer John. Bring a Bible.

Call the pastor at 410-242-5918 to sign up.

Sunday afternoon concerts lift spirits when Our Lady of the Angels Chapel resounds with guest performances, on the Charlestown retirement community campus at 711 Maiden Choice Lane. Head over Jan. 13 to hear the Divine Divas vocal trio and Jan. 20 for the Federal City Brass Band explosion of sound. Both begin at 3 p.m. No tickets or fees required.

Call 410-247-4779.

Food for body and soul

Enjoy supper with Lansdowne United Methodist Church's diners, at 114 Laverne Ave., and savor well-seasoned winter entrees, free of charge, on Wednesdays, Jan. 9 and 23, from 5 to 6 p.m. Walk–in. No reservations. Tell a friend.

Betty Cain offers menu tidbits at 410-242-9156.

Christ United Methodist Church dishes up the best bargain lunch around. For $2.50, an enticing entree, scrumptious sides, dessert and drinks satiate hunger at 2833 Florida Ave. Dash over at 12:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11, and dig in.

Call 410-789-9058.

Tasty finger foods will be served when Our Lady of Victory School hosts open house events at 4414 Wilkens Ave. Bring your youngsters for a tour 6-7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15, or 9-11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30.

Call 410-242-3688.

Share sweet and savory breakfast fare with Holy Nativity Lutheran Church's members 8:30-10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 19, at 1200 Linden Ave. Walk-ins welcome. No charge.

Call 410-242-9441.

Help Our Saviour Lutheran Church's seasoned chefs create suppers for the West Side Men's Emergency Shelter on the Spring Grove Hospital Center's campus. Donations of meal fixings or funds to buy ingredients are a godsend. Find out what's needed for the Jan. 25 meal by stopping by 141 Laverne Ave. on Sunday morning.

Call 410-242-2141.

Sample tasty fare while waiting to see if you won $500, $1,000 or $3,000 in Church of the Ascension Parish's 400 Club raffle. Doors open at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 27, in Brewer Hall, 4601 Maple Ave. Consolation prizes and fun provided, too.

• The parish bakers, preparing entrees for Our Daily Bread's feeding program, need additional help.

Call the church office, 410-242-2292, for menu particulars.

Purchase a $50 ticket from the office, 410-242-2292, or from Joe Herbert, 410-247-3497.

Hearty soups, stews, pasta meals, hot cereals and beverages are in short supply in the Southwest Emergency Services food pantry, 1201 Maple Ave. Demand for such cold weather staples escalates in January. Help stave off hunger by giving some of these items on weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon.

Or call 410-247-8154 for alternative donation sites.

Food distributions that stretch family budgets take place at St. Clement Catholic Church, 2700 Washington Ave., on Wednesdays, 5:30-7 p.m., or Saturdays, 10 a.m. to noon.

To volunteer to help out, call 410-242-1025.