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The American Red Cross, including the Arlington Chapter of the American Red Cross, is offering its curriculum, “Facing Fear: Helping Young People Deal with Terrorism and Tragic Events,” at no cost in response to recent tragic events in the area. The curriculum provides background information for teachers about how students react to tragic events and outlines methods to help teachers answer questions and lead discussions. It also contains general preparedness information that addresses any tragic event. It is available in kindergarten to grade two, grades three to five, six to eight, and nine to 12 levels, containing four lesson plans and accompanying activity sheets in each of the three chapters: “Feelings,” “Facts and Perspectives” and “Future.” Call the Arlington Chapter of the American Red Cross at 703-527-3010.

Head-of-household women seeking financial assistance to go back to school can now obtain applications for the Soroptimist International Women's Opportunity Awards program. Since 1972, the Soroptimist Women's Opportunity Awards program has aided women who must enter the workforce or upgrade their employment status.

Applications are available at Arlington public libraries, financial aid departments of NOVA, GMU, Marymount and Strayer colleges, Arlington County Social Services and Adult Education Center as well as the Arlington County Career Center or by contacting Vickie Rowe at 703-560-3615. All applications must be returned to Soroptimists International of Arlington by Dec. 15.

Soroptimist International of Arlington will begin seeking applicants for its recognition program targeted to young women who make the community and world a better place. The Violet Richardson Award honors young women between 14 and 17 for volunteer action such as fighting drugs, crime and violence; cleaning up the environment; and working to end discrimination and poverty.

Applications for the award program are available at the Arlington County Career Center; Arlington public libraries; guidance departments of Wakefield, Washington & Lee, Yorktown, H.B. Woodlawn and Bishop O'Connell high schools in Arlington and George Mason High School in Falls Church; or by contacting Vickie Rowe at 703-560-3615. All applications must be returned to Soroptimist International of Arlington by Dec. 15.

The Women's Committee for the Arlington Symphony Association is offering its fiftieth annual student scholarship competition of the Washington metropolitan area. Applications are now available to students. The competition is in four categories: Piano, Strings, Woodwind, and Special (Harp, Xylophone, Classical Guitar, or Mandolin). Applications are now available to students. Applicants will play a concerto movement of at least 15 minutes in length, plus a piece of choice from a different period, lasting no more than 10 minutes. The student must include a tape of both pieces when submitting the application. To submit a tape, include a $15 registration fee and stamped, self-addressed envelope. The semi-finalists will be selected by a tape audition committee on the basis of the tapes and will compete for scholarship prizes in performance on Saturday, March 29, at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington. For each division, first prize is $500 and second prize is $250. Students, grades 12 and under, are eligible, with no age limit. One first-prize winner will perform with the Mount Vernon Symphony. Deadline for applications must be postmarked no later than Jan. 20. To request an application contact Agnes Koury at 703-527-4456. Visit the web site at http://wcarlingtonsymphony.org.

The Card Santa Program is again looking for cards to be distributed to people alone and lonely this holiday season. Since 1990, Card Santa has distributed more than 10,000 cards and letters to people who would normally be forgotten at what should be the most joyous time of year. Cards are sent to homeless shelters, hospices, women and children's shelters, shut-ins, and to other programs that help people who may be alone. Cards should be signed and sealed and sent to the Card Santa office. Contributors are asked not to stamp each envelope as they are delivered in bulk. The deadline is Dec. 20 for Christmas.

Arlington began its 2002 curbside vacuum truck leaf collection program on Nov. 4 for residents who receive County refuse service. Vacuum truck crews will collect piles of leaves raked curbside Monday through Saturday and all holidays, except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Crews will make two full passes through each neighborhood, once during November and another in December. It is important that the leaves are free of stones, litter, branches and other debris.

Weather, rate of leaf fall, and other factors affect vacuum truck collection, making it difficult to predict when a crew will arrive at a particular location more than a few days in advance. Signs, however, will be posted in each neighborhood prior to the crew's arrival. Updates and progress reports will be posted in each neighborhood prior to the crew's arrival. Updates and progress reports are available from the Leaf Collection Information Line at 703-228-6565. Cable television subscribers can also monitor the daily Leaf Collection Update on the County's cable television channel, Info 31, and those with access to the Internet many check the County web site, www.co.arlington.va.us/des. Civic association boundaries determine collection zones, which have familiar neighborhood names.