Happy New Year, everybody. Have you been making some good resolutions?

Maybe one of those resolutions was to take down decorations and dispose of the Christmas tree in an ecologically sound way. Don't clog the landfill. Merry Mulch your tree. Remove the tree stand and all decorations before taking it to Kendall's Hardware or River Hill Nursery any day until Jan.18.


Did you resolve to do something for others? You can give the gift of life by donating blood. Linden-Linthicum United Methodist Church is sponsoring a blood drive at the church on Jan. 6. Call the church office at 410-531-5653 or 443-293-7364 to schedule or get more information.

One simple and painless way to support local schools is by dining out locally. Different schools have different programs throughout the year. You pay nothing extra and the school gets a percentage of sales for that time and date.

Clarksville Middle School PTA will benefit if you dine at Ruby Tuesday any time on Jan. 6 or 7. Be sure to mention that you are there to support Clarksville Middle School.

Relay for Life of Western Howard County will hold a kick-off rally at the Gary J. Arthur Community Center in Cooksville on Jan. 8 at 7 p.m. The entire community is invited to help initiate planning and explore volunteer opportunities.

This charity event for the American Cancer Society raised over $84,000 in 2012 in Western Howard County. The overnight non-competitive walk-a-thon is a worthy fun event.

Light refreshments will be served.

For more information, go to http://www.relayforlife.org/westernhoward. You may also call 410-781-4316 or email jenny.hogg@cancer.org.

The Simon Youth Foundation awards one-time scholarships of up to $1,400 to at-risk high school students. If you will be graduating in 2013 and plan to enroll in an accredited college, university, vocational or technical school and live within 50 miles of Arundel Mills, you can apply.

Pick up a copy of the application at the Simon Guest Services Center in Neighborhood 5 at Arundel Mills or download at http://www.syf.org/our-initiatives/scholarships/community-application or http://www.syf.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/SMS-2013-application.pdf. The application period ends Jan. 11.

As promised, this column is coming from Rivas, Nicaragua. The 34 Maranatha volunteers flying from BWI met the 11 medical volunteers flying Redeye from Seattle in Miami.

We will be building a one-day church in Tola and providing health clinics in several places. A dozen Nicaraguan medical providers will be joining the group. It will take more than one day to complete the church because we are finishing the structure with concrete blocks.

So far, things are going well. There are seven ladies in our room sharing one cold-water bath. The Dalinky Hotel is on the shore of Lake Nicaragua.

I'll be assisting 22-year-old Jackie Bergland with the children's program during the day while parents get medical treatment and evenings while adults attend preaching services. We'll all rotate through the construction site and kitchen help.

I can't wait to know and tell you the rest of the story next week.