Ellicott Mills Middle School's eighth-grade team leader Rick Marquart and eighth-grade social studies teacher Toni Richardson got together to help students learn about homelessness -- and ended up learning something themselves.
"The shelters are packed right now," he said, noting that there are about 700 documented homeless in the county. "And 42 percent of the shelters are filled because of domestic violence/spousal abuse."
As their student service project this year, Ellicott Mills eighth-graders chose to help CASA, Citizens Against Spousal Abuse, and the Domestic Violence Center.
They decided to start their project by supplying what kids at five county shelters needed to celebrate Christmas: presents.
The students funded the project by holding a bake sale at the Superfresh in Elkridge, netting $200. They also collected student contributions and new toys donated by school families.
The students raised more than $300, which they spent at Toys R Us.
The toys were delivered to the Domestic Violence Center Dec. 21, in time for Christmas.
Staff assigned a present to each child, making sure that everyone had something to open on Christmas Eve.
The eighth-graders are continuing their project by collecting practical items, such as toothpaste and soap, for shelter residents' birthdays. A car wash also is planned at the school in May.
The project will help to fulfill Maryland State Department of Education's new community service requirement for graduation.
Lyman Goon, an Ellicott City resident, took a good look at the Christmas card envelope delivered to him last Friday by the Postal Service. His house number was wildly off, Ellicott City was spelled wrong, and the zip code was incorrect.
To top it off, the envelope was sent to "The Goonies."
Despite this,the Post Office delivered the Christmas card in just two days; the postmark said it had been mailed Wednesday.
"Somebody sharp works in the Ellicott City Post Office, and they just figured it out," says Mr. Goon, adding that there aren't too many families in Ellicott City with his surname.
Mr. Goon plans to write a letter to the Post Office commending workers on delivering some nearly undeliverable mail.
If you happen to go to the Central Library in Columbia, take a moment to visit the children's area where you will see 12 quilt squares, illustrating Clement Moore's "The Night Before Christmas."
This tableau is the product of Kaleidoscope, a spinoff group of the Faithful Circle which meets in First Presbyterian Church in Ellicott City.
Each member of Kaleidoscope chose one of twelve pictures to replicate in fabric.
Fabric was shared to ensure that the pictures would resemble each other. However, individual creativity was still encouraged.
The group, some of whom were responsible for more than one panel, worked on the quilt squares for a year before they were donated to the Central Library. The library will keep the quilts and use them for seasonal decoration and for illustration at children's story times.
Congratulations on the beautiful job by Kaleidoscope members Rosemarie Baurenschub, Jude Bjerkaas, Pat Brousil, Kristine Fisher, Lynn Jourdan, Brigitte Lund, Judy Miller, Julie Rizzello, Theresa Tiburzi and Billie Tolmach.
VFW Post 8097 is holding its annual New Year's Eve party from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday.
Food, an open bar, music played by a DJ and noisemakers will be provided.
Tickets are $15 per person. The hall limits attendance to about 100 people.
VFW 8097 is located at 7209 Montevideo Road in Jessup. For more information, call Post Commander Bill Heber at 796-5458.
The VFW Post also is proud to announce that Scott Jefferson of Wilde Lake High School won last month's Voice of Democracy public speaking contest.
Scott had to write a speech and then read it into an audiotape to enter the contest.
Representing Post 8097, Scott won the 6th District contest and will participate in the state contest Jan. 9.
In Ellicott City's Ballet Guild's seasonal production of the Nutcracker, there were seven Centennial High School students: Katie Castle, Emily Chica, Amy Startt, Emily Thompson, Christa Ramey, Stephanie Hepburn and Heather McManus.
Centennial High School Principal Dr. Edgar Markley is proud to announce that the Student Government Association's Jingle Bell Banquet, the annual student-cooked dinner for seniors, was a roaring success.
Fifteen students cooked dinner for more than 250 seniors. Dr. Markley presented organizer Jeanine Bartel with a "Principal's Award" mug.
On Dec. 22, Centennial High was notified by the Maryland Scholastic Press Association that its paper, Wingspan, won the award for best high school newspaper.
Elkridge Library presents "Time for Us," a six-week story and activity series for 2-year olds and their parents.
The program will be held at 10:30 a.m. Fridays from Jan. 7 to Feb. 11. Children must be 2 years old by Jan. 7 to attend.
Registration for Howard County residents begins at 1 p.m. Tuesday and may be made in person or by phone at 313-5085. Nonresidents can begin registering Friday.