Rita Chelton, long-time resident of Elkridge, would like to share the latest news from Grace Episcopal Church of Elkridge. After a lengthy search and many prayers, the parish has recently welcomed a new rector, the Rev. Travis K. Smith.

Rector Travis hails from All Saints' Episcopal Church in Loveland, Colo. He holds a Masters degree in Theology and Divinity from Duke Divinity School and the General Theological Seminary. A Seattle native, he is married to his bride of 11 years, Aleta Smith, and they have three children, Ronia, Samuel and Joshua.

Ms. Chelton encourages anyone and everyone to join the Grace parish family for worship and meet Father Travis. Sunday services are held at 7:30 a.m. for a traditional service at the historic stone church off Main Street. Grace also offers a 9 a.m. adult education and Sunday School program with a 10 a.m. contemporary church service at the Family Life Center, at the corner of Montgomery and Landing roads.

Nancy Grabowski is known in Elkridge as the "Greens Lady" for the many years she has hosted an open house selling her stunning holiday creations on the beautiful wrap-around porch of her home. This year, Nancy is selling her holiday greens at the Howard County Nature Conservancy at its Natural Holiday Sale, Saturday, Dec. 7, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The event will also feature food and farm products, nature critter crafts for kids, decorating demonstrations by local Master Gardeners and a raffle. The Conservancy is at 10520 Old Frederick Road (Route 99). Admission is free and all proceeds benefit the Conservancy's environmental educational programs. For more information, call 410-465-8877 or go to http://www.hcconservancy.org

Missy Lemke is a hands-on mom from Elkridge Elementary School who is busier than Santa's elves! Missy is organizing the Elkridge Elementary Holiday Shoppe on Friday, Dec. 6, 6:30-9:30 p.m., at the school, 7075 Montgomery Road.

Missy is a great cheerleader on behalf of the school and stickler for getting the shopping done early. "Get a jump on your holiday shopping at the Elkridge Elementary School Holiday Shoppe! You'll find beautiful handmade crafts, chocolates, beauty accessories, toys and jewelry. Plus, you can shop with consultants for all your favorite home parties, including Thirty-One, Melissa & Doug, Scentsy, Lia Sophia, Cookie Lee, Avon, Pampered Chef, Tupperware and more. And, the kids can finish their shopping, too, at the Kids' Korner Gift Shoppe."

Don't miss the chance to support the EES kids, and take care of that shopping list, all in your own backyard! For additional information, call 410-313-5006 or email the PTA at eespta@hotmail.com

With the holidays fully upon us, the Elkridge Heritage Society would like to extend its wishes to the community at large for a season of great joy, good health and many blessings. According to one active member and Elkridge resident, Tina Barton, "We are so thankful for our friends in the greater Elkridge area for their support and enthusiastic participation in the Elkridge Heritage Society."

The next meeting for the EHS will be its annual Christmas gathering at Melville Chapel United Methodist Church, 5660 Furnace Avenue, on Monday, Dec. 30, at 7 p.m. The group will experience the chapel in its full Christmas beauty, and hear a presentation on its rich history. Following, they will meet at the EHS headquarters, the Brumbaugh House (on Main Street) for dessert and beverages. Mark your calendars and plan to join this holiday-themed meeting of the Heritage Society. For more information, contact Tina at webmaster@elkridgeheritage.org.

Don't forget the Elkridge Adult Athletic Association is hosting "Santa's Visit at Pfeiffer's Corner Schoolhouse" Saturday, Dec. 7, 2-5 p.m. Bring the children to visit with Santa, and feel free to take pictures of the experience. Admission is a nonperishable food item for the Elkridge Food Pantry. Pfeiffer's Corner Schoolhouse is located in Rockburn Park off the Montgomery Road entrance at Rockburn Elementary School.

On Sunday morning, you are invited to the Elkridge Volunteer Fire Department's annual "Breakfast with Santa & Mrs. Claus" Dec. 15, 7:30-11 a.m., at the fire hall, 6275 Old Washington Road. Don't miss out on this all-you-can-eat breakfast! Tickets are $8 adults; $7 seniors (55+); $5 children (5-12); kids under 5 eat for free with a paying adult. For more information, call 410-761-6633, ext. 4 or 410-313-4901.

The EVFD's is still underway. Checks should be made out to the EVFD, and can be mailed to the firehouse. As the holidays draw closer, donations of perishable and non-perishable foods can be brought directly to the station or given to Santa & Mrs. Claus on their annual neighborhood fire truck visits. For more information or assistance with donation pick-up, contact Joe Slavotinek at 410-984-1796.

Keep me posted on what's going on in your backyard!