I received an email from Marcia McAdoo in which she asked for some details regarding this year's Highland Days celebration. This year, it'll take place Oct. 1. There are lots of activities for the kiddies, food vendors including the "famous" Boarman's hot dog wagon, and vendor tents where you can meet local small businesses and artsy-craftsy people.

Parking will be free and close by. Everything starts at 11 a.m. and continues until 4 p.m. It's a wonderful time to get out and meet others in the community. Go to the website http://www.highlandmd.org for more information. I'll have more information as we draw closer to the day.

In these tough economic times, it seems that, no matter which way you turn, everyone is asking for money and our local schools are no different. Some of the amenities our kids enjoy are not provided by taxpayer dollars, but through the creative fundraising efforts of volunteers and school staff alike. One way that you can help out doesn't require much effort and you just keep on going about your daily routines.

Sign up for Giant A+ program, either at the service desk of your local Giant or by going to its website http://www.giantfood.com/aplus and searching for one of our local schools. Here are the codes for our local schools: Reservoir High School, 04410; Lime Kiln Middle School, 03723; Fulton Elementary, 03502; Cedar Lane School, 01007;


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Another method is to sign up with Target's Take Charge of Education Program. Every time you use your Target Visa or Target card, Reservoir High will receive a percentage of the purchase amount in the form of a cash donation through this program. Go to the website http://www.target.com/tcoe or call 1-800-316-6142 and designate Reservoir High as your school with the code 117889.

Finally, grocery chain Harris Teeter has a similar program, called Together in Education. Just tell the cashier during checkout that you want to link your VIC card to one of the local schools. I did it online and was able to link to two schools. The website is http://www.harristeeter,com.

Fall is just around the corner (literally — it starts Friday, Sept. 23) and you know what that means: falling leaves — lots of them! Rather than bagging them and dragging them to the dump, the Howard County Master Gardener program may have just the solution you need for all those leaves.

Why, you may ask? That's because leaves are one of the magic ingredients for making something gardeners call "black gold", commonly known as compost. It's called the Rake and Take program. This program matches up "rakers" with "takers."

Signing up is easy. Just send an email to phooker9440@gmail.com with your name, address and telephone number, telling them you'd like to participate in the program. They'll contact you to make arrangements for picking up your leaves. Pretty simple, eh? By the way, this program is sponsored by the University of Maryland Extension Howard County Master Gardeners.

Well, that's all for this week. Commit a random act of kindness. Look in on your neighbors. Say a prayer for our troops who are serving in harm's way and remember their families, too.