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HOME LOST IN FIRE, BUT COMPASSION IS REDISCOVERED

Certain events in our lives allow us the opportunity to stop and re-examine our values and priorities. Recently my family experienced such an episode.

The day before Thanksgiving, we were awakened early in the morning by the shrill sound of our smoke detector.

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The memories of the next few hours are a blur. Rushing to get thechildren to a neighbor's house. A frantic call to 911. Grabbing coats and shoes. Forgetting the family photo albums and rescuing a basketof laundry instead. Everyone accounted for and safe.

Together we stood outside in the bitter cold and watched as a fire destroyed our home.

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For two hours the firefighters worked, while our friends, neighbors and family stood with us, unable to help, unsure what to say.

As the sun rose that morning, the damage became increasingly apparent. It was a disaster. We lost many things in the fire. Material things. Possessions.

But we also found something in the fire, something intangible. We found how many people genuinely care about our family. And we discovered how many lives we have touched throughout the years.

Over the next few days our friends came by the truckload --to help us move, to bring us clothes, to hold our hands and cry.

And now, as we sit in our new apartment, sleep in our rented beds andwalk around in clothes we vaguely recognize, I just want to say thanks. To all the people who called. To the people who helped. To the people who prayed for us. We couldn't have made it without you.

It'sgoing to be a beautiful Christmas.

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Children throughout the area are rushing to finish their Christmas wish lists so they can be mailed at Santa's special express mail box outside the Glen Burnie Improvement Association hall on Crain Highway.

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A tradition in the community, the mail box is a direct route to Santa himself -- aided by aGlen Burnie elf or two.

Parents should make sure that the lettershave a return address to assure a response in time for the holiday.

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While children all over are anxiously awaiting Christmas Day,Jennifer Bayne and Stacy Hogan can't wait for the day after Christmas. That's the day they board a plane and fly to London to participatein the Lord Mayor of Westminster's New Year's Parade.

The Glen Burnie High School girls were selected by the Universal Cheerleading Association to perform in a cheerleading routine with girls from acrossthe nation as part of the UCA All Stars.

Both girls are three-year members of Glen Burnie's varsity cheerleading team. Last summer they attended a weeklong cheerleading camp at Towson State University, where they auditioned for the All Stars. They were among the 15 girls selected from the group of 500.

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Both girls were required to raise more than $1,700 to cover the cost of the trip. Most of the money came from sponsors and bake sales.

Stacy, a 17-year-old senior, is looking forward to her first airplane flight, but the parade promises to be the highlight of her trip.

"The most important thing is the New Year's parade. To have people looking up to us as All Stars," saidStacy. "It's such a big opportunity. I'll probably never get the chance to see London again. It's the opportunity of a lifetime."

The girls must learn the cheerleading routine from watching a video. Oncethey arrive in London they will have only two practices before the parade. The rest of the time will be spent sightseeing.

So what do they want to see the most? Buckingham Palace? Picadilly Circus? Carnaby Street?

"The Hard Rock Cafe. I can't wait to see the Hard Rock Cafe," said Jennifer.

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Take that, Queen Elizabeth!

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Do you know a young adult, between the ages of 21 and 39, who has demonstrated an ability to meet the challenges of today's society and excel? Someone who has succeeded, not only in the work place, but within the community?

If you know someone that fits this profile, you may want to consider nominating him or her as a Jaycees Outstanding Young Marylander.

The search for a candidate is being sponsored by the Greater Glen Burnie Chapter of the Jaycees.

According to Deborah Stevens, management development vice president for the chapter, a winner will be selected based on his or her contributions to the community.

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"This allows the community to get involved with the community service the Jaycees do," explained Stevens. "We do this three times a year -- Outstanding Young Farmer, Outstanding Senior Citizen and Outstanding Young Marylander."

Nominees must be U.S. citizens and can be submitted by an individual, association or business. The deadline for nominations is Dec. 15.

For additional information call Stevens 647-4426.

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The spirit of Christmas arrives at the Colonial Squareapartments perched on top of an antique fire engine at 7 p.m. Mondayevening.

Santa will be chauffeured aboard a 1951 Ward LaFrance fire engine. The engine has been restored by owner John Stumpf to look like Engine 332, an actual piece of equipment that operated out of the Glen Burnie Fire Company for several years.

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This year Santa is making an early appearance at the apartment complex, thanks to maintenance superintendent Wally Truelove and his staff Stanley Hall, CherylVan Horn and Tony Sumenig.

The group has volunteered their time for the past four years to construct a lighted Christmas tree and decorate the entrances to the apartments. But this year they added the visit by Santa for the children in the complex.

In addition to distributing candy canes and taking gift requests, Santa will draw the three winners of the holiday decoration contest sponsored by the complex.

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Area youths will have the chance to celebrate the holiday season and help out those less fortunate at the Rebels' Teencenter Christmas Dance this Friday at Corkran Middle School.

Admission to the dance is half-price with the donation of a non-perishable food item. All of the food collected will be donated to the North County Emergency Outreach Network.

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Children, aged 6 to 12, are invited to attend the early dance from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Regular admission is $1, or 50cents with a food donation.

The older dance, for ages 12 to 17, is scheduled for 8 to 10 p.m. Regular admission is $2, or $1 with a food donation.

This is the last dance before the start of the extended school winter vacation. The next dance is planned for Friday, Jan.10.

As always, adult chaperons are welcome as guests of the Rebels.

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Over at the Freetown Recreation Center, they're celebrating the 12 events of Christmas, which culminate in a holiday party from4 to 6:30 p.m., Monday, Dec. 23.

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The activities also include holiday crafts and decorations, caroling, a poster contest and a trip to Festival Hall in Baltimore to see the Festival of Trees.

Throughout the two weeks of fun, several members of the community will visit with the children as guest readers or speakers.

Judge Janet Owens of the County Orphans Court will read stories with the children from 6:30 to 7:30 Friday.

Advance reservations are requested for the holiday party no later than Dec. 19.

For more information call Joyce Gough, 222-6243.

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It's not really Christmas without homemade cookies. But for many families living in temporary shelters, the chance to bake for the holidays is a luxury.

In an effort to share someof the holiday spirit, TRYAD, the young adult group at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, is spending the day Saturday baking cookies to be delivered to area shelters.

The group is relatively new to the church and has about 30 active members. The cookie-baking day is open to all members of TRYAD and anyone interested in joining.

For information about the baking day or joining the group call Eric Tabacek, 761-5719.

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The United Methodist Men of Marley Methodist Church aresponsoring a pancake breakfast from 8 a.m. to noon, Saturday in the church, 30 Marley Neck Road.


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