Members of the Campus Hills community are taking advantage of the holiday season by revitalizing old traditions and introducing new neighborhood-building activities.
On Nov. 29, members of the Campus Hills Community Association held an official tree-lighting event at Squires Road and Scarlett Drive, an area dubbed "Christmas Tree Island" decades ago. Livia Laun served as chairperson of the event, open to Campus Hills residents. Committee members brought hot chocolate and cookies, and Gerard Smith put the lights on the tree. Around the neighborhood, Wesley Wood, Wade Susie and Karen Curley hung wreaths on roadside lamp posts; Mike Feihe arranged for the electric to be turned on at Christmas Tree Island; Rebecca Dietrich, of Goucher College, arranged for the back gate to be closed early; and the Providence Volunteer Fire Department brought Santa on their fire trucks.
On Dec. 14, Mike and Judy Kirlin, along with many volunteers, will be delivering luminaries to all 369 homes in Campus Hills.
"We light them every year on Christmas Eve," said Tamee Bollinger, board president. "It creates a beautiful and peaceful atmosphere in which to welcome the holiday. What I enjoy most about this night is seeing the community come together. When neighbors are out of town, others set up and light their luminaries so that as many homes as possible can share in the holiday spirit."
In addition to other events being planned for December, activities committee members Michele Mangiafico, Janice Flynn, Mimi Rogers, Benny Louie, Laun and Bollinger are planning events they hope will occur monthly in 2014, including a bowling event at Towson Lanes late January to kick off the new year.
"There is an air of pride about living in Campus Hills," Bollinger said . "That feeling is what I wanted to be a part of and build on."
In Bollinger's tenure, she has orchestrated events, such as a Walk Around the Hills held in the spring and fall, a digital photo scavenger hunt called Eye on Campus Hills and the holiday tree lighting.
"The point of all these activities is to allow our residents to enjoy their community," Bollinger said. "The idea of home is bigger than just your house."
The Assistance Center of Towson Churches' Thanksgiving Basket Project was a success, as recipients lined up early in the windy, cold mornings of Nov. 25 and 26 to pick up one of the prepacked 2,750 bags of Thanksgiving meal fixings that had been collected for the project.
In addition, at least 10 outreach, helping organizations were able to provide their clients with the ingredients for a complete Thanksgiving meal. One church donated more than 350 bags, and Ridgely Middle School sent a school bus filled with 40,000 pounds of food. Four local Mars, ShopRite, and Giant supermarkets cooperated by preparing filled reusable bags for purchasing.
"This has been a Thanksgiving I will always remember," said ACTC Director Cathy Burgess. "It is a shining example of the generosity and caring of both the churches and the community."
West Towson Elementary School is sponsoring a toy drive for families and local charities. The school will be collecting gift cards and new unwrapped toys Dec. 3-16. Items may be dropped off at the school between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Call the school at 410-887-3869 for more information.
During the first week of December, students at Immaculate Conception School celebrated "buddy time." To celebrate the true meaning of the season, younger students worked with older students by taking time out of their typical routines to create thank you cards for area soldiers and nurses.
"Two different organizations reached out to us for help this year," said Miriam Johnson, director of admissions, "the American Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes campaign and the St. Joseph's Office of Mission Integration."
Working in buddy pairs, students created cards including phrases such as, "You're amazing!" or "Nurses are the best!" Students also made brightly colored cards expressing gratitude that will be delivered to military bases and veterans hospitals throughout the holiday season.
"Our whole school community worked together in teams from pre-K to eighth grade," Johnson said. "Activities like this bring out the best in students of all ages."
Several Calvert Hall College High School students were recognized recently for their musical talents.
Darnell Davis, Michael Ehart, Todd Fleming, John Gossick, Collin Power, Niccolo Short, and Chris Swartz were selected as members of the 2014 Maryland Music Educators Association's Senior All-State Chorus; Palmer Foran was named as an alternate.
Freshmen John Endres, Anthony Rowe and Robbie Spratt were selected as members of the 2014 Maryland Music Educators Association's Junior All-State Chorus; Brian Kelly and Clyde Tubal were named as alternates.
Chris Dauses, percussionist, was selected to the Maryland All-State Orchestra, and Will Westhoff, percussionist, was selected to the Maryland All-State Band.
These students will be part of the school's annual Christmas Concert in McManus Theatre on Friday, Dec. 13, at 7:30 p.m. The concert features vocal performances by the Madrigal Singers, Chamber Singers, The Corridors, The Hallmen, and instrumental performances by the Jazz Orchestra, String Ensemble, and Combined Concert Band.
Photo: Santa Claus is joined by Nicolas Finnerty, left, and Ethan Hill, right, who are both in the first grade at Cromwell Valley Elementary. Photo by Livia Laun.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun