If you'd like to play Santa for a needy youngster, you can buy toys and drop them off anonymously through Toys for Tots, so they arrive like a gift from Santa.
Collection centers for Toys for Tots are located in the Carrolltown Center in front of Kmart and in the Coldwell Banker office in Eldersburg Plaza II, near George's.
Toys for Tots is organized by the Marine Corps Reserve. Toys and books for children up to age 14 are gathered in the holiday season through a network of collection centers, sorted by age group and distributed through Social Services, Catholic Charities and others who work with needy families.
While Coldwell Banker offices have been Toys for Tots collection centers for years, this is the first time the Carrolltown Center has had a collection box.
"We've actually done this for three years," said Charles Campbell, of the Lance Corporal Deane Mount Airy Detachment of the Marine Corps League, a service organization comprised of reservists and former Marines. "This year we decided to start in the Carrolltown Center.
"We'll take any new toy, for any age up to 14, for a youngster. We don't want them wrapped because we need to be able to sort them for the appropriate age group."
Mr. Campbell and other league members have spent their weekend hours standing in front of Kmart for the past two weeks with a large box waiting to be filled with new, unwrapped toys. You can add to their collection Friday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
If those hours aren't convenient, drop off your selections at the Coldwell Banker office from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. any day, even Sunday.
If you can't make it to the office, one of the agents will visit your home to pick up your donation.
"We have a great big box in the back," said Joan Brown, an agent for Coldwell Banker. "We're hoping people will come in and fill it up to the top."
"You can choose anything that would be nice for a child," said Allen Codd, sales manager for Coldwell Banker. "If you can't get the toys in by the end of this week, we'll bring them to the Salvation Army, who distributes any time -- even after Christmas."
Toys must be donated by Sunday to give the Reserve time to sort and deliver the gifts.
Look for Mr. Campbell and his friends near Kmart, or drop your toys off in the realty office.
If you need someone to pick them up at your home, call Mr. Codd at 795-6000.
Attention, all community members who enjoy a rustic view.
A large cellular tower may be built right in your back yard.
"I didn't move out here to look at a 200-foot tower," said Kathy Heisch, Sykesville resident. "I find it hard to believe that this is happening."
West Shore Communications, contractors for Bell Atlantic and Cellular One, are proposing to build a communications tower on Hollenberry Road, sandwiched between the ballpark and the Piney Run reservoir -- on the wetlands.
Sykesville's Town Council voted unanimously to recommend to the Carroll County Board of Zoning Appeals that the application for the permit be disapproved in its Nov. 22 meeting, citing the proximity to homes, reduction of property values, health risks and violation of Sykesville's newly adopted Small Town Planning Guidelines.
"You'll be able to see it wherever you are on Route 32, or all over town," Ms. Heisch said. "Two hundred feet is well above the tree line. This isn't the only one they want to build, either."
According to Mayor Ben Brown of Westminster, Carroll County
may soon be dotted with up to 35 of these towers.
5l "If people show up at hearings and public meetings, it will show the Zoning Appeals Board that there is community concern over this," Mr. Brown said. "If we all just ignore it, the board will assume that it's not a problem to anyone, and they'll probably approve it.
"We should remember, too, that it's not just one tower -- Cellular One has plans for up to 24 of these and Bell Atlantic is planning 11 -- there's going to be one in everyone's back yard if we don't do something about it."
Want to protect your view? Attend a meeting at St. Paul's United Methodist Church on Main Street in Sykesville tonight, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Holy Spirit Lutheran Church in Eldersburg invites everyone to its presentation of "No Vacancy," featuring solos by Dan Fauss, director of Sunday Dawn, a contemporary gospel group, and other members of the congregation at 6 p.m. Sunday.
Food will be available in the Fellowship Hall after the presentation, and Santa will be on hand to listen to your child's wish list, so bring your camera.
Members of the congregation will bring gifts for the needy as part of a joint effort of the church's Sunday school children, their parents and area social services agencies.
Items donated will be distributed among the Westminster Rescue Mission, My Sister's Place in Baltimore, the Westminster Shelter for Women and Children, Neighbors in Need, the Oakland Manor Nursing Home and the Eldersburg Daycare Center for Seniors.
For information, call the church at 795-6333.
Faith Lutheran Church will again hold its live nativity this year, on Sunday or, if it rains, Dec. 21.
Join the fun Sunday in the churchyard on Liberty Road near the library at 5:30 p.m. or 7 p.m.