Schools, churches, community groups 'deliver happiness' [Towson]

Fifth-grade students from Rodgers Forge Elementary shared some holiday cheer this season with a special visit, aptly named "Santa to a Senior," to the Springwell Senior Center in Baltimore. After weeks of conducting a schoolwide campaign to collect gifts for the 150 residents of Springwell, students passed out jingle bells and led the residents in carols. Students then chatted with the residents as they distributed the gifts – mostly slippers, blankets, warm socks and mittens – they had brought with them.

"Every senior had a large smile spread across their faces," said fifth-grader Matthew Ensign. "This made me feel really warm inside. I had given them a day to remember. I only sang, gave seniors presents and talked with them. It wasn't much, but they were grateful."

Much of the event's success was possible because of the generosity of the Rodgers Forge families. After collecting 1,961 cans for a Thanksgiving food drive, the school families began sending in gifts for the men and women residing at the senior center.

"I really loved to see their faces light up," said fifth-grader Grace Batavick, "and I felt like I was delivering happiness."

This is only the second year Rodgers Forge Elementary has collected gifts for seniors, but it has become a tradition they hope to continue for many years to come.

Fifth-grader Ben Trivas was able to see the bigger purpose of such a tradition. "It made me feel very good that they were thankful for us to be there, not the presents."

In other community news, senior Matthew Franks, of Loyola Blakefield, has launched a drive to collect used lacrosse equipment in support of a nonprofit called Fields of Growth (

After two summer service experiences in Haiti and Jamaica, Franks witnessed the value of serving underprivileged youth. He also saw their joy when they received used or new sports equipment.

"Sports mean a lot to them," said Franks. "For some, after the needs for food and shelter, playtime reigns supreme."

Franks is now taking it upon himself to launch a drive through mid-January to collect used or new lacrosse equipment in partnership with Fields of Growth-Global Lacrosse. Collection bins are on the Loyola Blakefield campus in Knott Hall.

The Assistance Center of Towson Churches reopened on Dec. 16 in its newly expanded and renovated building at 120 W. Pennsylvania Ave. The reopening follows six months of construction that is thanks in large part to the generosity and hard work of volunteers, community churches, clubs and businesses.

The "Rededication Celebration" is scheduled for 3 p.m., Jan. 26, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 120 W. Allegheny Ave. It will include a service, ribbon cutting, tour of the center, and reception.

Immaculate Heart of Mary School, in Towson, is very grateful for numerous milestones in 2013, including a generous donation from Jerry's Toyota that allowed the school to purchase several more interactive whiteboards, making each room a "Smart" classroom. In 2014, IHM plans on continuing the technology upgrades by providing tablets for eighth-grade students.

IHM is looking forward to celebrating Catholic Schools Week at the end of January, when the school continues its service to the community and celebrates its students and teachers.

The Campus Hills Community Association is creating an annual scholarship to support the education of a member within its community. The first award will be offered in the fall of 2014. Donations are now being accepted at every Campus Hills-sponsored event. Checks also are accepted at any time and may be made payable to Campus Hills Community Association. Donations may be sent to Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 20155, Towson , MD 21284.

For Notre Dame Preparatory School, 2013 was a year of many accomplishments. Most notably, for the third consecutive year, It was named a Top Workplace by the Baltimore Sun. In addition, Headmistress Sister Patricia McCarron was named to The Daily Record's "Circle of Excellence" following three other recognitions as one of the "Top 100 Woman" in Maryland.

The Towson Presbyterian Church Sunday Community Lunch , at 400 W. Chesapeake Ave., is a local mission outreach that has served lunch every Sunday since January 2012. The group reached out to families and individuals who are hungry and/or homeless in Towson. The church is committed to addressing hunger and homelessness in the community. During 2013, the Sunday lunch team served more than 1,700 meals to guests and team members. The church plans to continue and expand the Sunday Community Lunch in 2014.

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