At the Churches: Donations need to fill empty space beneath Christmas tree

Santa Claus dons a jaunty red suit while "Santa" Okonski sports a purple Ravens jersey. Both have the same goal: ensuring that every child receives toys and sugarplums on Christmas Day.

For Betty Okonski, of Southwest Emergency Services, the work to provide holiday treasures for area youngsters began months ago as she shopped for bargains and stockpiled her bounty at the SWES building. Despite her determination to assist local families in dire straits, Okonski reports that her gift sacks are far from full.


"We need caring folks to help make up our shortfall," she said. "It's the only way we can guarantee toys for every child on Giveaway Day, Dec. 14."

Her priorities are: LEGOs, Polly Pockets dolls, Matchbox cars, footballs, basketballs, small electronic games and gift cards for teens' use at local stores. Okonski is also seeking stocking stuffers.


Deliver your unwrapped donations weekdays, 9 a.m. to noon, and Wednesday, Dec. 5, 6 to 8 p.m., at 1201 Maple Ave., before Dec. 11. Or drop them off next door at Arbutus United Methodist Church, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays; 9 a.m. to noon on Sundays.

Call Santa's hotline, 410-247-8154, for more information.

The children's corner

Little ones may shop for loved ones, assisted by patient adults, at Lansdowne United Methodist Church's Children's Gift Store, from 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Dec. 1, at 114 Lavern Ave. Priced for small budgets, gifts are wrapped on site. Treats included.

Call 410-242-9156 or 410-247-4624.

Our Lady of Victory's seasoned chefs serve a breakfast with St. Nick, from 8 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Dec. 1, in the parish school, 4414 Wilkens Ave. Eggs, pancakes, fruit and drinks cost $6 for adults; $4 for ages 3 to 12.

Event features story time, crafts, raffles, face painting and door prizes, too.

Jingle 410-242-3688.

Breakfast with Santa in the Ascension Parish Hall, 4601 Maple Ave., runs 9 to 11 a.m., Sunday, Dec. 2. Adults pay $6; ages 12 and under, $3. A menu of egg dishes, pancakes, meats and beverages, photos with St. Nick and other treats are included.

Reserve a seat with joe.mherbert@gmail.com.

Santa and Mrs. Claus pose with children for photos when Halethorpe-Relay United Methodist Church's breakfast in their honor gets underway from 9 a.m. to noon, Dec. 8, at 4513 Ridge Ave. Hotcakes, sausage, fruit and juice are on the menu with holiday craft making and gifts available. Freewill offerings accepted.

Dash on over or call 410-242-5918 for directions.

Santa arrives for breakfast in Violetville United Methodist Church, 3648 Coolidge Ave., from 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Dec. 8. Love offerings accepted.

Sweet and savory entrees assuage his hunger and yours. Baked treats and holiday gifts sell separately. Photos available, too.

Walk in or call 410-525-3191 or 410-247-3249.

The advent of Advent

Our Saviour Lutheran Church's members welcome the Rev. Linda Lewis into their fellowship. Greet her this Advent season by heading to 141 Laverne Ave. on Sundays, at 10 a.m., for worships of wonder.

Call 410-242-2141.

Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church's Scripture Advocates collect Bibles to share with those less fortunate throughout the four weeks of Advent. Donations may be taken to the church on weekdays or Sunday mornings.

Call 410-242-0131.

An Advent lunch and gift sharing take place at 11 a.m., Sunday, Dec. 2, in Christ United Methodist Church, 2833 Florida Ave. Bring an entree or dessert; beverages and breads provided.

Unwrap particulars at 410-789-9058 or talk to Margie, 410-789-9544.

A Christmasy Workshop for creative families runs from noon to 3 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 2, in Arbutus United Methodist Church's Lewis Hall. Myriad tree ornaments and decorations will be made to take home for display. Freewill offering covers the cost of materials.

Reserve a spot, 410-242-9029.

• Head back to the church that evening to bask in the glow of The Cluster Concert at 6 p.m. Eight area church choirs, troupes of liturgical dancers, instrumentalists, soloists, interpreters and a mass choir finale will be followed by tasty finger foods in a festive Lewis Hall. No tickets. Handicap access.

Note details at 410-242-9029.

Hope Presbyterian Church's open doors and open hearts call folks of all ages to Wednesday Advent preparation worships at 7 p.m., at 4748 Shelbourne Road.

Call 410-247-4673.

An Advent penance service begins at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 5, at St. Clement Catholic Church, 2700 Washington Ave. Prepare for the Christ Child's arrival through reflection and prayer.

Call 410-242-1025.

"The Night Before Christmas," a lyrical drama, calls music lovers to Halethorpe Community Church, 1312 Francis Ave., at 6 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 9, and 11 a.m., Dec. 16. Free. No tickets required.

Specific notes available at 410-242-7408.