The Elkridge Volunteer Fire Department's Junior Firefighters will sponsor a "Summer Bash" dance for youth ages 9-15 Saturday, Aug. 27 from 7 to 10 p.m. at the fire hall, 6275 Old Washington Road. Tickets are available at the door for $10 per person with a maximum of 200 tickets sold.

Food and beverages, including pizza, corn dogs, pretzels, nachos, candy, water and sodas, will also be for sale at the dance. The department has a "no exceptions" policy on appropriate behavior and dress code for its youth dances and enforces a strict adult sign-in/sign-out procedure for attendance.

For more information on the dance, call 410-761-6633 (and select option 5), or go to http://www.ElkridgeVFD.org.

Blood supplies are dangerously low during the summer months, don't forget to support the fire department's blood drive. The American Red Cross really needs your help, so please share the gift of life. The fire department and the Red Cross would be thrilled to see you Monday, Aug. 29 from 3 to 8 p.m. Walk-ins are always welcome, and appointments are appreciated. You can make an appointment by calling Julie Casey at 410-984-2170.

Don't forget to register for the "Give Where You Live 5k" to support the Elkridge Food Pantry. This fun run/walk is happening soon! Mark your calendar for Sept. 18 at 8 a.m. for the second annual Summer's End "Give Where You Live" 5K. One hundred percent of the proceeds directly benefit the food pantry and garden!

The run/walk will take place at 5660 Furnace Ave. (in front of the Food Pantry building next to Melville Methodist Church). There will be a post-race celebration with music, food and family fun at the Volleyball House parking lot across the street (which is offering free parking for the race participants and their families). Plan now to support a great cause in your own backyard and spend some time with neighbors and friends; It'll be here before you know it. You must register by Sept. 9 to receive a free T-shirt. Sign up online at http://www.summersend5k.org.

The next couple of weeks at the Elkridge Senior Center (in the Elkridge Branch Library) will be delicious, fun and informative. On Friday, Aug. 25, you can join the fun with "Cooking with Becky" from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Cost is $3 per person. Don't miss this one! Becky will also be demonstrating how to make delicious empanades Friday, Aug. 26. Watch and learn as she prepares these delicious treats and then help sample a few for lunch. The center's nutritionist will also discuss the nutrition and health benefits of the meal. Sounds like a great challenge!

If you have a fear of falling, or just want to have more confidence in your ability to stay safe, then this is the class for you! Every Wednesday from Sept. 7 to Oct. 26 you can enjoy a great program called "Matter of Balance" from 10 a.m. to noon. The cost is $23 for an eight-week class.

A fall could cause broken bones, internal bleeding, both temporary and permanent disabilities, and other complications. Don't miss out on the class and learn how to protect yourself at all times. For questions about any of the Elkridge Senior Center events, call the center at 410-313-5192.

Back to school is always a flurry of activity! It also means the fall sport season is upon us. Lions' Pride, the Howard High School Sports Boosters Club is ready for a great season and open for membership. The club membership levels start at the $10 "fan" level and top out at a $75 "platinum" membership. The platinum level includes your choice of an insulated Lions' Pride stadium blanket or stadium seat. All lower-level memberships also include fun, promotional items to display your Howard High school spirit.

Food and beverages just naturally go together with spectator sports. A concession stand is a major source of fundraising for any school team, and Howard High is no exception. Lions' Pride is asking for a parent or team of parents to take on the job as concession stand coordinator/manager. Vicki Price has done a fabulous job over the past two years, but the booster club needs someone to step in for this school year and offer Vicki a chance to watch from the sidelines. You can be rest assured that she will be on hand to train and assist any newcomer in getting ready for the football home opener Friday, Sept. 2.

The job requirements include cleaning and preparing the stand for football season; coordinate concession volunteers for both junior varsity and varsity home football games; purchase and stock concession food from various bulk purchasing sources on a weekly basis; order and coordinate food deliveries from outside food vendors; and manage the Lions' Pride debit card for food and beverage purchases, reconcile receipts and cash boxes. Many hands make for light work, so perhaps teaming up with another parent or set of parents would be an ideal way to make this work out for everyone involved, and continue to benefit the school athletic programs.

The Interscholastic Athletic Advisory Council is a group of volunteer parents from each of the county's 12 public high schools. The IAAC meets quarterly with the county's Coordinator of Athletics Mike Williams to discuss and offer feedback on issues affecting athletics in the county. Howard High is in need of a parent volunteer to represent the school for the upcoming school year.

Call Tom Singleton at 443-570-8299 or email tom.singleton@dii-ins.com. if you are interested in serving as the Lion's IAAC representative or for additional information on Lions' Pride or membership applications.

It's back to school for Howard County public schools Monday, Aug. 29. As the 2011-2012 school year unfolds, here's wishing great discoveries on both the giving and receiving end between our children and the admirable folks that have been called to the teaching profession. Those who invoke the joy of learning and help create tomorrow's leaders truly make a valuable contribution on a global scale.

And remember: Life is short. Enjoy every moment possible, stay safe, practice random acts of kindness, and remember to reach out to those in need. Please keep in touch and let me know what you'd like to share in this space. I always look forward to hearing from the great friends and neighbors of Elkridge and Hanover

Thanks and have a stellar week!