OK, Elkridge and Hanover: Here's a 9-1-1 to the community from the fire department!

It's that time of year again, and the Elkridge Volunteer Fire Department is sponsoring its 21st annual foliday food drive to benefit families in need Elkridge and the surrounding communities. Since the program's inception, the department has given more than 573 baskets to those most in need.

Please help make this season's giving a success. Donations of perishable and non-perishable foods can be brought to the Elkridge Volunteer Fire Department or given to Santa and Mrs. Claus on their annual neighborhood firetruck visits. Monetary donations are also welcome. Checks should be made out to the EVFD, and can be mailed to: 6275 Old Washington Road, Elkridge. MD 21075.

If you have any questions or need assistance with pick-up, call Joe Slavotinek at 410-984-1796. Your generosity and kindness is greatly appreciated!


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The Elkridge Volunteer Fire Department's Junior Firefighters will sponsor a "sports" dance for youth ages 9-15 Saturday, Nov. 19 from 7 to 10 p.m. at the EVFD fire hall, 6275 Old Washington Road. Be a fan and wear your favorite sports apparel.

Tickets are available at the door for $10 and a maximum of 200 tickets sold. Food and beverages (pizza, corn dogs, pretzels, nachos, candy, water and sodas) will also be sold at the dance. The department does have a "no exceptions" policy on appropriate behavior and dress code for its youth dances and also enforces a strict adult sign-in/sign-out procedure for attendance.

For more information, call 410-761-6633 (Option 5), or go to the department's website at http://www.ElkridgeVFD.org.

It seems as though we're all running in a million different directions these days, especially as we near the holiday season. However, here's a great opportunity to really run in an event (or help with the organization of it) and help a worthy cause. Be part of the Howard Team and support the Girls on the Run's 5K Fun Run Dec. 3, starting at Gateway Drive Loop.

This is a tremendous opportunity for runners to get volunteer hours (requirement for honor societies, as well as imperative on any serious college application). Girls on the Run combines training for a 5K event with healthy living education. The 10-week curricula address all aspects of girls' development (physical, emotional, mental, social and spiritual well-being).

The program uses exercise, positive reinforcement, and encouraging role models to help girls discover the confidence they need in those critical pre-teen years and beyond. Through interactive activities such as running, playing games and discussing important issues, participants learn how to celebrate being their unique and real selves, how to be part of a team and how to positively contribute to their community.

Girls on the Run Howard County is in 25 schools and/or sites with more than 350 girls participating in the fall program. The culmination will be their 5k, but they need your support to make it a true success story. You can get volunteer credit, recruit some future Howard High cross country runners and it's fun.

Consider volunteering in one of the following areas: course marshall: Direct runners along the route and cheer them on; packet stuffer/pickup; water stop (you can even make it extra fun by creating a theme, dress appropriately and make sure the runners stay hydrated); buddy runner: run/walk with a Girls n the Run member the day of the event. Provide support and be a personal cheerleader.

To sign up to help, or for more information, check out the Girls on the Run website at http://www.hcgirlsontherun.com or email Maura Dunnigan at dunniganzoo@verizon.net. Have fun and thank you for your support and assistance.

Deck the halls with boughs of holly… fa-la-la-la-la… and wreaths… and centerpieces… and candles… and swags… and more! Nancy and Steve Grabowski's annual holiday greens and crafts sale will be held (as usual) the first weekend in December. This festive holiday event takes place at the Grabowski's house on Augustine Avenue Dec. 2-4, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Nancy was actually trying to figure out how many years she's been holding this event, and although she found fliers from the 1990s, she just lost track prior to that point. You'll find stunning, hand-made wreaths, large arrangements (which a lot of folks use to adorn a front porch); and centerpieces with greens, candles, ribbon and colorful glass balls and trim.

You can also find plenty of roping and Nancy also makes beautiful swags for the windowsill, mailbox, lamppost, or door. Other stunning specialties include miniature boxwood Christmas and topiary trees. Take care of some of that holiday shopping, too! The holiday greens and crafts sale also offer a fun array of crafts, jewelry, and note cards, all hand-made by local artisans.

Nancy is always glad to see the good neighbors and friends come by and get their festive holiday home dressings… as she puts it, "It's always good to see all the locals and catch up on the latest news in Elkridge and Hanover."

More than 100 energetic volunteers participated in helping the Friends of Patapsco Heritage Greenway plant a new riparian buffer along a section of Thistle Run, located off of Frederick Road, in Catonsville. They planted 70 new trees and 10 bushes and you can view the photos — from its origins over the summer to locate the fall planting site, marking where the trees were going to be planted, delivery of all the supplies and set up for the event the day before; to the actual planting of the trees — at patapscofriend.smugmug.com.

Special thanks to all the wonderful volunteers who participated for this annual fall foliage planting on behalf of the group.

And if you are free Friday, Nov. 18 from 1 to 4 pm, come and help out with the final tree maintenance site for 2011 near historic Belmont in Elkridge on Patapsco State park land (which was rained out in October).

The PTA Holiday Shoppe at Elkridge Elementary School will be held in plenty of time to purchase unique gift for your holiday shopping. This convenient "all-under-one-roof" event will be held in the Elkridge Elementary gymnasium Dec. 9 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. The event will feature some wonderful vendors, including Elkridge's own Twins Silver Dream, handmade jewelry, hand painted glassware, handmade embroidery items, baked goods and homemade jams, duct tape accessories and several other handmade craft items.

Email Darcy Concha at tonyanddarcy@verizon.net for more information.

Continue to keep all of our brave women and men that are far from home this holiday season (and their families) in your thoughts and prayers. And don't let your prayers stop when the holiday season ends. Just like homelessness, hunger, or loneliness, which are ever present 24/7, 365 days a year… the holidays just make it worse.

In gratitude for all our own blessings, may we always reach out to others in need. In the words of President Kennedy, " As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." Please keep in touch and let me know what you'd like to share in this space. Thanks and have a stellar week… and Happy Thanksgiving!