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Yuletide Tours Will Highlight Post-Colonial Christmas December 14, 2017

Rock Ford's annual Yuletide tours aim to provide a remedy for the post-Christmas blues by offering a journey back in time to when Christmas Day was only the beginning of the holiday season. Candlelight, festive music, dancing, and holiday greenery will set the scene for an 18th-century Yuletide at Rock Ford Plantation during the week between Christmas and New Year's Day.

Built in 1794 at what is now 881 Rockford Road, Lancaster, Rock Ford Plantation was the home of Edward Hand and his family. Hand served as adjutant general to George Washington during the Revolutionary War.

During the period when Hand and his family lived at Rock Ford, Christmas Day marked the start of a festive season that included 12 days of parties, dinners, and dances. Visitors to Rock Ford's Yuletide tours will learn about 18th-century traditions, listen to traditional holiday music by Harrisburg-based musical group Seasons, and watch preparations in the mansion's kitchen by members of the Warm Hearth Club. Costumed volunteers will be stationed in various rooms of the mansion to offer insight into Yuletide traditions. The candlelight tours will feature period dancing by a volunteer dance group.

Candlelight tours will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, Dec. 26, 27, and 28. Daylight tours will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 29. Admission will be payable at the door. Separate fees have been set for adults, for seniors age 65 and older, and for youngsters ages 6 to 12. Children age 5 and under will be admitted at no charge.

Proceeds from the Yuletide tours will support the educational programs and operation of Rock Ford Plantation. The historic property is open for tours from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Tuesday through Sunday from April to October. It is operated by the nonprofit Rock Ford Foundation. For more information, readers may visit www.rockfordplantation.org or call 717-392-7223.

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Organizations Post Gift Idea December 13, 2017

The Lancaster City Alliance and the Downtown Investment District invite community members to purchase Downtown Dollars to give as gifts during the holiday season. Downtown Dollars are gift certificates that can be used at more than 100 Lancaster city merchants.

To purchase Downtown Dollars, readers may visit https://visitlancastercity.com/visitor-services/downtown-dollars/, stop by the Lancaster Visitors Center at 38 Penn Square, or call the Lancaster City Alliance at 717-394-0783. The Lancaster City Alliance accepts cash or checks. Downtown Dollars are available all year long, not just during the holidays.

The Lancaster City Alliance seeks to engage the community and strengthen neighborhoods in all four quadrants of the city. It oversees the Downtown Investment District and implements the Building On Strength strategic plan. For more information about the Lancaster City Alliance, readers may visit http://www.lancastercityalliance.org/ or find the organization on social media.

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Gigi's Holds Holiday Event December 12, 2017

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Fourth Friday Events Slated December 11, 2017

Main Street Mount Joy will sponsor Fourth Friday on Dec. 22 from 5 to 8 p.m. in downtown Mount Joy. Fourth Friday showcases the town's dining, shopping and entertainment venues. This month's theme will be "Shop and Dine Downtown."

For more information about Fourth Friday, visit www.mainstreetmountjoy.com/4th-fridays.

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New Travel Tool Posted December 11, 2017

A new travel tool will help drivers with winter preparedness. This winter, Pennsylvania motorists can check online to see when a state-maintained roadway was last plowed. The information will be posted on the Plow Trucks section of www.511pa.com.

PennDOT operates 2,200 plow trucks each winter. More information about PennDOT's winter services and winter-driving resources are available at www.penndot.gov/winter. The site also has a complete winter guide with detailed information about winter services in each of PennDOT's 11 engineering districts.

PennDOT is responsible for maintaining 40,000 miles of roadways, which translates into 96,000 snow-lane miles, enough miles to circle the globe nearly four times. In doing so, PennDOT deploys about 4,800 on-the-road workers, has more than 652,000 tons of salt on hand across the state, and will take salt deliveries throughout the winter.

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Raising A Star To 2018 December 11, 2017

Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Winters Heritage House Museum are teaming up once again to offer a family-friendly, community New Year's Eve celebration, Welcome 2018, from 3 to 7 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 31.

The church, located at 125 E. High St., will offer chicken barbecue dinners made by a local barbecue company to eat in the fellowship hall or for takeout from 3 to 6 p.m. Meals will include a half-chicken, a baked potato, an apple, a candy bar, and a bottle of water. Any leftover food will be donated to the Water Street Mission or the Community Cupboard of Elizabethtown, noted organizer Phil Clark. Advance tickets for the chicken dinners may be purchased at the church.

At the church, music will be provided by disc jockey Jonathan Dice throughout the evening. Free hot dogs, popcorn, and hot chocolate will be available inside a tent, and two types of homemade soup will be for sale. Weather permitting, a fire pit will be blazing for attendees to make s'mores.

Free bingo for people of all ages will be offered at the church with a variety of prizes. The Friendship Fire Company, Elizabethtown Borough Police, and Northwest Emergency Medical Services will have vehicles in the church parking lot for attendees to tour. "The kids love that," Clark remarked.

The historic church building will be open for tours, and pastor AJ Domines will be on hand to answer questions and provide historical information.

The Winters Heritage House Museum, 47 E. High St., Elizabethtown, will offer a variety of free children's activities and crafts. Volunteers will present hearth cooking demonstrations, and samples will be available.

Welcome 2018 will culminate with the raising of a lighted star at 7 p.m. outside of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church. Church member Ross Buettner designed the star and creates all of the visuals for the annual celebration.

By raising the star at 7 p.m., the church is carrying on a tradition that Elizabethtown held for many years in conjunction with its sister town of Letterkenny, Ireland. At 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time in Elizabethtown, the clock strikes midnight for residents welcoming the new year in Letterkenny, explained Clark.

Last year's event benefited from pleasant temperatures, and organizers are hoping for more of the same this year. "Two years ago it was freezing," recalled organizer Vicki Yaider. "But last year it was nice. We ran out of hot dogs, so we're buying even more for this year."

Funds raised at Christ Lutheran's root beer float stand at the Elizabethtown Fair help to ensure that the activities at the New Year's Eve celebration can be offered free of charge. This marks the fourth year for the church to host a celebration, and Clark hopes to have even more organizations, churches, and businesses join in the tradition in future years.

"It's a family-oriented event to welcome the neighborhood in. It's a fun, fun night for everyone, and it's nice to be in bed early," Yaider said with a laugh.

For more information, readers may call 717-367-2786.

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Harvest Bible Chapel Lancaster Opts For A "Simple Christmas" December 11, 2017

"Simple Christmas" is the theme for this year's Advent season at Harvest Bible Chapel Lancaster, which has campuses at 609 Prospect St., Lancaster, and 101 S. Railroad St., Myerstown.

"The idea of 'Simple Christmas' is less about the festivities and more about how you're focusing this Christmas," explained senior pastor Jerry Lingenfelter. "No matter how much or how little we do, it's about celebrating the coming of Jesus to Earth. (We are marveling) at how God used the simple things to magnify the essential thing."

Following that theme, the decorations at Harvest's Lancaster and Myerstown campuses are low-key and lightly done. One of the reasons for keeping most of the decorations in storage is that the Lancaster campus will be moving soon. Harvest has purchased the property at 651 Lampeter Road, Lancaster, from Lancaster County Christian School and is in the process of preparing for the move. The transition is expected to be completed by Easter. Additionally, membership at Harvest has continued to increase, so energy has been directed toward assimilation rather than decoration.

"We have a lot on our plate," Lingenfelter remarked. "The Lord has blessed us in various ways, so we thought it would be great to have a simple Christmas."

Lingenfelter stressed that wherever folks fall on the "Griswold to Grinch" scale, everyone is welcome at Harvest.

"People can choose to celebrate Christmas however it allows them to stay focused," Lingenfelter said. "Activities around the holiday should aid our focus, not take away from it."

Brett Lovern, pastor of worship and arts, added that Christmas can seem complex and chaotic for a lot of people, and "Simple Christmas" aims to provide a respite.

"Things seem to be pretty hurried in our culture, and that creeps into our worship services," Lovern remarked. "But (worship) should be a time when we can slow down. We are creating a space in our services where people can slow down and focus."

"You can come to Harvest to catch your breath," Lingenfelter commented. "God has called us to ... cherish the truth of Christmas. If that's your desire, join us."

Worship services are regularly held on Sundays at 8:30 and 10:45 a.m. at the Lancaster campus and at 10 a.m. at the Myerstown campus. The Harvest Kids children's ministry serves youngsters from infancy through fifth grade during all services. Folks may watch the services live online at http://live.harvestlancaster.org.

The schedule will be adjusted on Sunday, Dec. 24, which is Christmas Eve. Identical services will be held at 10 a.m. in Myerstown and at 2, 4:30, and 7 p.m. in Lancaster. Care for children up to kindergarten will be provided in Myerstown and up to prekindergarten in Lancaster, as older youngsters will be invited to sit with their families for the services. "The Shepherd: A Story of the First Christmas," an 18-minute film by Dallas Jenkins, will be screened, and Lingenfelter will give a shortened message. Candlelight will be included in the services as well.

On Sunday, Dec. 31, which is New Year's Eve, services will resume their regular start times. In Lancaster, the service will be interactive and include more singing than usual. Lingenfelter will encourage attendees to take a look at the new year and what it would look like to have a simple life. The Myerstown campus, which typically watches a recording of Lingenfelter's sermon from the previous week, will have its New Year's service on Sunday, Jan. 7.

For more information about Harvest, readers may visit www.harvestlancaster.org, email info@harvestlancaster.org, or call the office at 717-393-9600.

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MGCB Ready To "WOW" In The New Year December 11, 2017

Mechanic Grove Church of the Brethren (MGCB), 1392 Robert Fulton Highway, Quarryville, will celebrate Christmas on Sunday, Dec. 24, with a worship service at 10 a.m. and a candlelight Christmas Eve service at 6 p.m.

The morning service will feature "A Visit From Joseph," a monologue by interim pastor Bob Kettering, and it will be preceded by a time of fellowship from 9 to 9:45 a.m. Kettering has served MGCB since the retirement of previous senior pastor Jim Rhen this past spring. Calvin Park will begin his tenure as senior pastor on Tuesday, Jan. 2.

The evening service will be titled "A Red Letter Christmas," which associate pastor Misty Wintsch described as "a sense of a story woven together with the songs and the Scripture used (in the program)." The service will be led by Wintsch and Kettering, along with Adam Ulm, pastor of youth and young adults, and Lori Holzhauer, music coordinator. The adult choir and the WOW Kids will sing.

WOW stands for "Worship on Wednesday." The idea is based on the behavior of the Early Church as recorded in the New Testament book of Acts. Wintsch related that the members of the Early Church broke bread together, had fun together, talked about Jesus, and learned from each other. Following that pattern, WOW begins at 5:30 p.m. with a meal prepared by Jenn Berkey and a crew of volunteers. There are no set costs for the meal, but donations are accepted. A brief devotion is offered, and after the meal, classes are offered for people age 3 and up. Nursery care is available for infants and toddlers.

The adults spend an hour together with a lesson and interaction and about 20 minutes for prayer. Youths in sixth through 12th grades have a Bible study, and children age 3 through fifth grade rotate through three stations that are tailored to their diverse ages. Kay Swarr tells stories while posing as Granny Goodbook, Hans Herr and Phil Hershey lead activities, and Holzhauer and Rhonda Heidinger teach songs. Once a month, the WOW Kids sing those songs during worship services. At 7:30 p.m., the youngest children are dismissed to go home, and the older youths and adults stay for practices of the junior and adult handbell choirs, the adult praise team, and the adult vocal choir.

"I call it All-Church Night," Wintsch remarked. "Everyone's here, and everyone's involved in something. It's fun to be here on Wednesday night."

WOW follows a school semester format. It began in September with a theme of "The Bible." When the new season begins on Wednesday, Jan. 3, the theme will be "Unselfish in a Selfie World," based on a musical performed by children who attended the church's summer day camp.

Everyone is welcome to attend WOW at any time. Reservations for the meal are typically not required; however, reservations are requested for Wednesday, Jan. 10. That evening will include a farewell dinner for Ulm, who will be transferring to Spring Creek Church of the Brethren in Hershey, which he will serve as senior pastor. Individuals may call the MGCB office at 717-786-2723 to indicate that they will attend.

Guests are also welcome to attend worship services, which are regularly held at 8:15 and 10:30 a.m. on Sundays. The current sermon series is based on the Fruit of the Spirit as listed in the New Testament book of Galatians. The fruit of peace, joy, and love were saved for Advent. The series will conclude on Sunday, Dec. 31, with Kettering's sermon "Abide in My Love and Bear Fruit."

"It's been neat to build up to that," Wintsch remarked. "Love, joy, and peace are things we should think about all year."

For more information about the church and its activities, readers may call the office, email church@mgcb.org, visit www.mgcb.org, and find Mechanic Grove Church of the Brethren on Facebook.

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Holiday Concert To Benefit MCHS Students December 11, 2017

The Manheim Central High School (MCHS) music department will present its annual holiday concert at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 17, in the school auditorium, located at 400 E. Adele Ave., Manheim. Admission is free.

The MCHS string orchestra, symphony orchestra, concert choir, jazz band, and concert band will all perform during the program. More than 200 students will participate in this year's holiday concert.

The performance is a joint effort between the music department, MCHS Student Council, Manheim Rotary Club, and Manheim Central Student Loan Fund (MCSLF). Members of Student Council help out at the concert by handing out programs prior to the performance and later distributing collection baskets for donations during intermission.

All of the funds raised through the freewill intermission offering will be divided between two scholarships that are presented by the Manheim Rotary Club each spring. The Student Council Leadership Award goes to a graduating member of the Student Council, which is advised by MCHS teacher Ruth Iosue. The Rotary Music Award is given to a student selected by the music department faculty.

A Rotary representative will speak to the audience at intermission about the Student Loan Fund.

In contrast to the previously mentioned scholarships, the Student Loan Fund provides qualified students with a particular loan amount each year for four years toward college or trade school tuition. Unlike a scholarship, students pay back the loan, and the money is returned to the MCSLF's account to be used for the next round of student loans.

Manheim Rotarian Don Shelly called the fundraising efforts by Rotary and the Student Loan Fund a win-win for everybody, as the community, school, and local businesses all come together for an enjoyable afternoon at the concert.

Last year the audience donated nearly $1,200, which Shelly said enabled the Rotary Club to present two $600 scholarships.

Individuals who would like to learn more about the Student Loan Fund may visit www.baronloan.org. For more details on the Manheim Rotary Club, readers may search for "Rotary Club of Manheim" on Facebook.

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Woodcarvers Clubs Bring Ornaments To Hospice December 8, 2017

Back in 2007, members of the Manheim Township Woodcarvers Club decided to create Christmas ornaments throughout the year and give them to a local organization to trim a tree during the holidays. By Christmas 2008, the dozen club members had discovered that it made sense to bring the ornaments to Hospice & Community Care, Mount Joy, and a partnership was born.

In 2016, the Lancaster County Woodcarvers, a group of about 100, joined the Manheim Township club in delivering the ornaments to hospice and decorating the tree together. On Dec. 4 this year, members of both clubs arrived at the facility before 1 p.m. to decorate a small tree located in a room off the main entry.

The woodcarvers offer their time and talents as a way of giving back, and in so doing, they provide family members of hospice patients with a hand-carved ornament that can become a memento of their loved one. Lauren Musser, corporate and community relationship manager for hospice, said that the carvers bring ornaments they have carved during the year prior to that Christmas. Musser explained that members of families who are attending loved ones at hospice during the holidays may choose an ornament from the tree to take home. "It's a real meaningful and challenging time for families who are here during the holidays," Musser said. "The woodcarvers' sweet gesture means so much."

As the woodcarvers decorated the tree this year, they brought a variety of ornaments, including those carved to resemble snowmen, Santas, stockings, rocking horses, Christmas trees, crosses, stars, hearts, mittens, and more. According to Ruth Stetter, a member of the Manheim Township Woodcarvers Club, who has been involved in the ornament donation since the first year, 2017 has been a banner year for donations. "We have more ornaments this year than they can put on the tree," she said with a chuckle, adding that the Lancaster County club created about 100 ornaments to donate and the Manheim Township club carved about 50 more. During the trimming, one of the carvers noted that a special ornament was needed to top the tree. Another quickly found more than one angel ornament to fit the bill.

Jean Parsons, director of inpatient services, noted that the tree makes an impression on patients, families, and visitors. "It is amazing," she said, adding that she has personal experience with the importance of the ornaments. "I have a special one that I took the year my father died that I keep with me," she said, adding that she believes the ornaments facilitate the healing process. "Every year I put the ornament on my tree, it's a reminder of the caregivers and the people I met who helped me with my father and the time I spent with my family during my dad's illness," she said, adding that the tree helps people of all ages through a difficult holiday season. "It's during a time when (people) might not have their normal celebrations ... but it's a moment you recognize where you are and what is happening, and you're surrounded by people who support you."

Musser noted that the woodcarvers' efforts all year long are appreciated by so many associated with hospice during the holidays. "It's their way of giving back, and we appreciate it so much," she said.

The Manheim Woodcarvers Club meets at Boettcher House, located in Landis Woods off Lititz Pike in Neffsville, the last Wednesday of the month. Readers who would like more information may email r.stetter@yahoo.com. The Lancaster County Woodcarvers meet the third Thursday of the month at the Brownstown campus of the Lancaster County Career and Technology Center. For more information on the county club, readers may search for "Lancaster County Woodcarvers" on Facebook.

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Food Box Project Set For Dec. 17 December 8, 2017

The annual Christmas food box delivery in Columbia sponsored by the Columbia Lions Club and Sunsnappers will be held on Sunday, Dec. 17, beginning at 9 a.m. at the Columbia Borough Fire Department, 726 Manor St. More than 700 food boxes, along with toys for children, will be delivered to families in Columbia, Marietta, Wrightsville, Mountville, Millersville, Manheim, and other areas. Families that registered in advance will receive their food boxes between 9:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Several hundred volunteers, including Boy Scouts and members of high school sports teams, will assemble the boxes from 9 to 11 a.m. The community is invited to assist with the assembly and delivery.

The food boxes will include all the items for a Christmas dinner, including turkey, potatoes, milk, bread, eggs, canned vegetables, and cranberry sauce. In addition, toys will be provided for children age 10 and under and who are not receiving toys through the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program.

The project is supported by donations from area businesses, organizations, and residents. The Columbia-Middletown Elks 1074 Ladies Auxiliary coordinates and sponsors the toy distribution.

Ken Kramer helped to start the project more than 20 years ago as a member of the Columbia Jaycees. Kramer, who is a member of both the Lions and Sunsnappers, said the project has grown from just five boxes in its first year to more than 750 last year.

"The food box project has become an annual tradition," Kramer said, noting that he enjoys seeing members of the community spend a few hours assembling and delivering the boxes. "We have volunteers of all ages, including the younger kids who pack groceries in the boxes. Then we have older kids from the high schools and adults who carry the boxes and frozen turkeys to the delivery area. We literally have people lined up out the door to help."

Lions president Jack Gamby said the event helps bring people together in the spirit of giving. "We have Christmas music playing in the background. You'll see people wearing Santa hats and reindeer antlers. It brings out the Christmas spirit in all of us. People really have fun with it," Gamby said. "People who receive the boxes are really appreciative too, and that makes it all worthwhile."

To find out more, readers may search for the "Columbia Christmas Food Boxes" page on Facebook.

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Hope When The Holidays Hurt December 8, 2017

Church To Host Blue Christmas Service

Not everyone feels joyful around the holidays, and Matt Suter wants people who may be struggling this time of year to know that those feelings are nothing to be ashamed of. "It's OK to not be OK around Christmas," Suter said. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Suter is now attending Evangelical Theological Seminary in Myerstown with aspirations to be a chaplain. After taking a course on the theology of suffering, he was inspired to host a Blue Christmas service at his home church, The Alliance Church of Elizabethtown, for individuals who may be enduring difficult circumstances that make facing the holidays overwhelming.

When he approached lead pastor Jim Moynihan about hosting a Blue Christmas service, Moynihan was very receptive. "I had never heard of it before, and the idea really intrigued me," Moynihan recalled. After deciding to move forward with the idea and sharing the concept with others, he heard from several individuals who said they would like to attend.

The Blue Christmas service at The Alliance Church of Elizabethtown, 425 Cloverleaf Road, Elizabethtown, will begin at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 21. All are welcome. The service will feature music, Scripture readings, and prayer - all interlaced with a sensitivity to the fact that individuals may not feel up to celebrating.

"Our major goal with this is to bring people together, because then you can see that 'hey, there are other people going through stuff - it's not just me,'" Suter explained. "Suffering is a lot more pervasive than we realize. We want to engage with ways that suffering takes place around us."

Suter noted that pain tends to isolate an individual, but the reality is that other people are hurting, too. "When we realize that, we can see that 'my pain is different from theirs, but we're both dealing with something,'" reflected Suter. "It's important to be with one another and be understanding and comforting ... because at the end of the day we can't always (prevent) the bad stuff from happening."

"In America, we try to present a face that suffering doesn't happen to us," said Suter, adding that staying silent during difficulties can exacerbate the culture of shame and the loneliness that accompanies painful seasons of life. "As a society, we need to be OK with people not being OK. We need to be OK with somebody grieving, crying, and withdrawing," Suter encouraged. "When they do that, the best thing we can do is listen."

For more details on The Alliance Church of Elizabethtown, readers may visit www.alliancechurch.com.

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Marietta Decoration Winners Announced December 8, 2017

The Marietta Candlelight decoration winners were recently revealed by Marietta Restoration Associates.

The Best of Show award went to 55 Fairview Avenue.

Business awards were presented to R.S. Restoration, 23 W. Market St., first place; McCleary's, second place; and Railroad House, third place.

Entry Way awards included 111 Fairview Ave., first place; 520 W. Market St., second place; and 205 E. Market St., third place. Natural Material awards were earned by 329 E. Market St., first place; 123 E. Market St., second place; and 23 Gay St., third place.

Lighting awards were presented to 4 Bainbridge St., first place; 138 W. Market St., second place; and Dickson House Square, third place.

Honorable mention awards included Heistand Bed and Breakfast, Shank's Tavern, Nick's Bistro, 17 Essex St., 276 W. Market St., 130 W. Market St., 505 W. Market St., 132 W. Walnut St., 26 Fairview Ave., 518 W. Market St., 680 W. Market St., 510 W. Market St., 466 E. Market St., 345 E. Market St., 341 E. Market St., 32 W. Walnut St., 115 E. Market St., 532 Essex St., 153 Fairview St., and 257 W. Market St.

In addition, the People's Choice award for the tree decorating contest at the Union Meeting House went to Columbia Organ Works Inc.

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North Pole Hotline Posted December 6, 2017

Gemma's Angels, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing hunger, has announced the operation of the North Pole Hotline.

To participate, parents, grandparents or other family may register children by visiting www.NorthPoleHotline.org. "The Elves" will ask for information that only Santa knows (teacher's name, pets, siblings, what children want from Santa, etc.). The volunteers, acting as Santa "helpers," will place the calls to the children at their homes in the evenings.

Calls will be made to children from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 22, and Saturday, Dec. 23. Calls are free, though there is a voluntary donation per child or per family.

More information is available at www.NorthPoleHotline.org.

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Card Contest Winners Posted December 6, 2017

The Diocese of Harrisburg has announced the winners of its 2017 Christmas Card contest along with the winning artwork. The contest was open to students in the 39 Catholic Schools in the Diocese, representing more than 11,000 students. The winning artwork, which was selected from 53 submissions, will be used to illustrate the Christmas Cards that Bishop Ronald Gainer will send out this year.

The winners include the following: kindergarten through second grade, Annie Verrelli, a second-grade student at St. Anne School, Lancaster; third through fifth grades, Abby Klein, a fifth-grade student at St. Anne School, Lancaster; sixth through eighth grades, Abby Caruso, an eighth-grade student at St. Catherine Laboure School, Harrisburg; and ninth through 12th grades, Kristen Landsman, a senior at Delone Catholic High School, McSherrystown.

This is the second time Kristen has had her artwork chosen to be used on a Christmas card for Bishop Gainer. Her 2015 entry was also selected when she was in 10th grade.

The theme of the contest this year asked for the students' interpretation of the birth of Jesus Christ as seen through his or her eyes. Each school was allowed to submit one entry per grade category. All mediums of art were allowed. The submissions were judged by Diocesan employees to the top three in each category. A winner from those finalists was then selected by Bishop Gainer.

Bishop Gainer hosted a luncheon for the winners, their parents, teachers and principals on Dec. 11 at the Cardinal Keeler Center in Harrisburg.

Copies of the artwork are available at https://spaces.hightail.com/space/rw2nAeaGma.

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Fire Company Sets Christmas Breakfast December 6, 2017

The Paxtonia Fire Company, 125 S. Johnson St., Harrisburg, will host its annual Christmas breakfast for children from 8 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 16. Firefighters will serve the breakfast, which will include three types of pancakes, as well as eggs, bacon, sausage, and beverages.

Santa and Mrs. Claus will be available to visit with children and listen to their Christmas lists, and every child will receive a present. Attendees will also have the opportunity to view the fire company's new fire engine.

There is a cost to attend the breakfast, with separate fees set for adults and for children ages 5 to 12. Children under age 5 will be admitted for free. For more information, readers may call 717-657-0768.

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Downtown Lancaster Holiday Events Set December 6, 2017

Visitors may meet with Santa in the lobby of the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square and Lancaster County Convention Center, 25 S. Queen St., Lancaster, and take a horse-drawn wagon ride through downtown Lancaster weekly leading up to Christmas.

Visits with Santa will take place on Fridays through Dec. 16 from 6 to 9 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Patrons can take their own photos for free, or purchase professional photographs. Horse-drawn wagon rides will be held on Fridays through Dec. 22 from 6:30 to 9:30 pm. Rides will leave from the Fulton Bank quadrant of Penn Square at the intersection of East King Street and North Queen Street. Rides will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Separate fees have been set for adults and for children age 12 and under.

Residents may view decorated store, gallery and restaurant windows throughout downtown Lancaster and vote for their favorite. Those that vote will be entered to with a downtown Lancaster prize package. For more information, readers may visit www.LancasterOnline.com/DowntownDecorating.

Lancaster city will hold an inaugural Lancaster Shops Late night on Thursday, Dec. 14. Lancaster Shops Late is a night during which retailers are encouraged to stay open until 9 p.m., bringing shoppers downtown to dine and shop. Music for Everyone will provide roaming entertainment, and warm beverages will be served at select locations. More details will be posted at www.visitlancastercity.com.

Two-hour metered parking will be free in the Central Business District from Monday, Dec. 18, through Saturday, Dec. 23. Visitors may download the Park Lancaster App at any time to assist their parking needs.

Attendees may ring in the new year in Lancaster city on Sunday, Dec. 31, beginnng at 10 p.m. with a free concert featuring Big Fat Meanies, the lowering of the red rose, and fireworks at midnight. The event is free and open to the public.

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Carrying On A Christmas Tradition December 6, 2017

Meal For Senior Citizens Planned

The Columbia-Lancaster Christmas Ladies will host the 32nd annual free Christmas lunch for seniors on Christmas Day, Monday, Dec. 25, at the former Vigilant Fire Hall, 10th and Mifflin streets, Columbia. Doors will open at 10 a.m. for a time of socializing and sharing coffee, tea, punch, and snacks. Lunch will be served at noon.

Helen Bechtold and Sis Luzader have volunteered their time and efforts in coordinating the event for 31 and 30 years, respectively. According to Bechtold and Luzader, the motivation behind the event is to ensure that no one is alone for the holiday. "It really started out as just a meal," recalled Luzader.

"But we add a little bit more," explained Bechtold. "It's a tradition now, and we don't just get people from Columbia but from all around."

The ham and turkey dinner will include fruit, vegetables, rolls, dessert, and beverages.

As is tradition, live music will be performed by keyboardist Louis Schotte. Dancing is encouraged.

Santa Claus will make an appearance and pass out small gifts to attendees.

Individuals age 55 and older who do not have other plans for Christmas Day are invited to attend. Reservations are required, and interested individuals may sign up by calling Bechtold at 717-397-2267 or Luzader at 717-684-0128 by Friday, Dec. 22. Individuals and businesses interested in making a contribution for a door prize that a senior citizen would appreciate may contact Bechtold or Luzader.

Transportation for Columbia residents can be arranged upon request. Jack and Rosie Brommer will once again volunteer their services to drive a van provided by St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church to pick up and drop off senior citizens in need of a ride to the meal. "Jack and Rosie have been (doing that) for years and years," Luzader noted.

A good portion of the volunteers who organize, set up, prepare, and serve the meal have been helping for decades. "It's kind of a family affair. My daughters still help to set up and cook," said Luzader. "We have it down to a science almost."

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Donations Sought To Benefit Shelters December 6, 2017

Gemma's Angels of Hershey is seeking toy and monetary donations for Christmas parties it operates in four shelters in Harrisburg. Parties will take place at Shalom House, Evergreen House, and Lourdeshouse, and new this year will be The Santa Bus at Interfaith Shelter for Homeless Families, where parents can shop for free from donated toys placed on a bus.

Brand-new toys for homeless boys and girls are welcome. To register to buy a toy or to donate and allow Gemma's to buy one, visit www.GemmasAngels.org/holiday.

Gemma's Angels is celebrating its 22nd year of collecting toys and conducting parties, with its first party having been held at Interfaith Shelter in 1995. For more information, call 717-298-0150 or email parties@gemmasangels.org.

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Friends Begin 2017 Pecan Sale December 5, 2017

The Friends of the York County History Center, 250 E. Market St., York, recently announced the start of the group's annual pecan sale. This year, the pecans are harvested from a family-owned farm in Georgia.

Pecans will be available for sale at Penn Street Market and Central Market in downtown York during regular market hours. The pecans will also be available in the museum gift shop at the History Center. The sale will continue through December at both locations and will likely continue through January at the museum. Five varieties of pecans will be available, including mammoth halves, dark chocolate covered, milk chocolate covered, cinnamon glazed, and pecan clusters.

For additional information, readers may call Karen Wix at 717-843-0823 or Deb Mohle at 717-578-8706.

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