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Send announcements to The Loudoun Connection, 7913 Westpark Drive, McLean, VA 22102, e-mail to loudoun@connectionnewspapers.com or fax to 703-917-0991. Deadline is Friday, two weeks before the event. Photos/artwork encouraged. For more information, call Jennifer Lesinski at 703-917-6454.

This free listing is reserved for activities and events that are open to the public at no or minimal cost.

The Loudoun Arts Council invites nonprofit arts organizations to apply for ArtShare, the councilÕs annual regranting program, which distributes funds to nonprofit arts groups as well as provides these organizations with grant writing experience.

To be eligible for a grant, organizations must demonstrate strong artistic quality and sound management practices. Grant applicants must have completed at least one season of programs and be members of the Loudoun Arts Council.

Again this year, the Arts Council is offering a prereview process to assist organizations with preparing their grant applications.

Key dates for this yearÕs ArtShare program are:

Nov. 23: Final applications are due by 5 p.m.

Dec. 19: Applicants are notified of recipients

Dec. 30: Checks are mailed to grant recipients

Contact the Loudoun Arts council for application forms and information about general policies and eligibility requirements at 703-777-7838 or info@loudounart.org.

The Loudoun Arts Council is a nonprofit organization that promotes the development of artistic expression throughout Loudoun County by supporting visual, performing and literary artists and arts organization.

Loudoun County Animal Care Control is joining the Community Holiday Coalition this year for the Christmas season by assisting Loudoun County families in need with pet food and supplies. Pet food donations are welcome and will be accepted at the Animal Shelter on Route 9 at the intersection of Route 704 in Waterford through Dec. 8. Visit http://www.loudoun.gov/animals.

Young writers in Loudoun County are being encouraged to use their imaginations, put pen to paper and create a story for the Community Voice Media LLC's Young Voices of Loudoun County short-story contest.

All students from grades kindergarten-12th grade, including Loudoun County Public Schools, private schools or home-schooled children are eligible to enter the contest. There will be cash prizes awarded for first, second and third place in the categories of elementary-, middle- and high-school levels. All participating students will receive a publisherÕs award in recognition of their achievement.

Contest submissions must be postmarked no later than Dec. 10. Entries can be mailed to Community Voice Media LLC, P.O. Box 564, Round Hill, VA 20142-0564. Submission guidelines are available on the Community Voice Media Web site www.communityvoicemedia.com or by sending a postage paid envelope along with the request to the address above.

Help make wishes come true this holiday season by sending holiday cards to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Mid-Atlantic, a nonprofit organization that fulfills the wishes of area children fighting life-threatening medical conditions. A portion of the card purchase is tax deductible and there is no minimum order requirement. These special cards can also be printed with a name or logo if desired. Orders must be received prior to Dec. 14. Call 301-962-9474. To view a sample card, visit www.midatlantic.wish.org.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Mid-Atlantic Inc. is a nonprofit organization that fulfills the wishes of area children fighting life-threatening medical conditions. Founded in 1983, the foundation has fulfilled the wishes of more than 4,800 children from Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C., Maryland and Delaware.

Long & Foster Real Estate Inc. announces the launch of its 16th annual toy drive in support of the U.S. Marines Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program.

Through Dec. 15, each of the companyÕs 220 sales offices will collect toys for distribution to financially and/or physically disadvantaged children within their local communities. Long & Foster is requesting that the public drop-off new, unwrapped toys at neighborhood Long & Foster sales office prior to Dec. 15.

Once the toys are collected and presented to area Marines, they are distributed to local churches, social welfare agencies and to needy children throughout the region.

Groups interested in applying for the Loudoun County Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program are encouraged to begin the process as soon as possible in order to meet the mid-December application deadline.

The CDBG competitive application is available online at

www.loudoun.gov/housing or by contacting Jan Boothby, CDBG program manager, at 703-777-0389 (V/TTY) or jboothby@loudoun.gov. Applications will be accepted until 4 p.m., Dec. 16.

Through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the CDBG program provides funding on an annual basis for local projects that address a variety of housing and community development needs. The preapplication workshop will review the competitive application process for the funds.

Eligible applicants for CDBG funds include local government entities in Loudoun County, nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Proposed projects should meet the goals of the CDBG program, which include providing affordable housing opportunities, revitalizing neighborhoods, renovating substandard housing and expanding economic development

opportunities, especially for persons of low and moderate income.

LINK churches is looking for volunteers for its annual Christmas basket event Saturday, Dec. 17, between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Christ the Redeemer Church in Sterling and Trinity Presbyterian Church in Herndon will distribute groceries. Herndon United Methodist Church will distribute toys at Christmas on the nights of Dec. 19 and 20, between 4-9 p.m.

LINK is asking students to volunteer for one-two hours. Students can register to volunteer by calling the LINK Hotline at 703-437-1776.

Volunteers are also needed to supervise the filling of a shopping cart for each family through the aisles and assist them in selecting their five-day allotment of food items and ensuring that they receive a perishable food gift certificate, coat or toy voucher. Volunteers are also needed to restock shelves, distribute coats and load food into family vehicles. LINK especially needs people who can give an hour or two to volunteer as foreign language interpreters Ñ Spanish, French and Farsi, etc.

The UPS Store located at 44050 Ashburn Shopping Plaza, Ashburn Village, through Dec. 23, will be offering customers the opportunity to purchase Toys for Tots donation cards for $1, with all proceeds going to local Marine Toys for Tots efforts. In addition, limited-edition replicas of the UPS Store/Toys for Tots No. 88 Ford race car will be available for $9.95, with a portion of the proceeds also benefiting the toy campaign. Unwrapped, new toys will also be accepted. Visit www.theupsstore.com.

Wegman's has selected Loudoun Interfaith Relief as the beneficiary of its Care About Hunger? campaign. Through Dec. 24, customers will be able to add a donation to their bill at check out, with 100 percent of that donation going to Loudoun Interfaith. Last year, the nonprofit organization directly served more than 11,000 families and through its food-sharing program provided more than 100,000 pounds of food to other organizations.

First Night Leesburg is a family-focused celebration of the arts held in downtown historic Leesburg on New Year's Eve, which will be Saturday, Dec. 31 this year. The event is once again sponsored by the Bluemont Concert Series in cooperation with the Town of Leesburg, the County of Loudoun and a host of Loudoun businesses and civic organizations.

This is a call to artists and performers and performing groups who would like to be considered to be part of First Night Leesburg. The entertainment committee is interested in hearing from artists and performers from Loudoun County and particularly from local schools.

Artists and performers interested in performing at the 2005 First Night Leesburg Celebration should contact: Entertainment Committee, First Night Leesburg, P.O. Box 203, Leesburg VA 20178; call 703-777-6306 or e-mail info@bluemont.org.

Christmas in the Loudoun Valleys, a guide to local farms offering choose-and-cut Christmas trees and other holiday floral products grown in Loudoun County, is available. The brochure includes farmers who provide assistance in tree selection, bow saws for cutting, and help with loading the tree. Many farms provide hot chocolate, marshmallow roasts and fun activities for children. The brochure also features holiday floral products such as wreaths, roping and poinsettias grown and produced on Loudoun farms.

The brochure, with map and directions to all farms, is available at the Loudoun Convention and Visitors

Association in Leesburg, county libraries and community centers. To have a brochure mailed, ask for one by e-mail, ahiggins@loudoun.gov, or call the Department of Economic Development at 703-777-0426. For further information, visit the Web site at www.LoudounFarms.org.

The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation is now accepting applications for public transportation, commuter services and human service transportation grants.

The annual applications period is open through Feb. 1. Approximately $134 million in state funding is available through Transportation Trust Fund and Transportation Efficiency Improvement Fund allocations.

Fiscal year 2007 funding availability is based on official revenue estimates of the commonwealth, which will be finalized in May 2006.

Complete details on eligibility and application procedures are available online. To apply, or to learn more information about public transportation funding in Virginia, visit www.drpt.virginia.gov and click on the OLGA (On-Line Grants Administration) spotlight box.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team In Training (TNT) program (TNT) hosts events year round, including full- and half-marathons Ñ run or walk, cycling or triathlons. TNT's National Capital Area Chapter is recruiting participants for the upcoming spring season of events which includes the St. Anthony's and Gulf Coast triathlons Ñ swim, bike, and run Half Ironman Ñ in Florida; the Country Music marathon and half marathon in Tennessee; and the Adidas Vancouver International marathon in Canada.

The team will consist of people of all age ranges, fitness and experience levels Ñ the TNT training program provides the coaching and support needed to make sure everyone crosses the finish line.

In exchange, participants work to raise funds for blood cancer research. These four events alone should raise somewhere in the neighborhood of $700,000. The local TNT chapter will raise more than $3 million this year. And, 75 percent of every dollar spent goes towards cancer research and other programs to advance the Society's mission of curing leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease, and myeloma. For more information about TNT or upcoming spring events and how to get involved, information meetings are being held in the Washington, D.C., area during the month of November, call the National Capital Area Chapter at 703-960-1100, or visit www.teamintraining.org/ncameeting.

Loudoun Volunteer Services seeks nominations for Student Volunteer of the Month. Loudoun students will be recognized for their volunteer efforts during the 2004-2005 school year. Nominate students, or groups of students, elementary-12th grade, who volunteer their time in a variety of ways in their schools, churches, and towns. A one-page narrative may be sent to the Loudoun Volunteer Services Board at pivs@loudoun.gov or to 1 Harrison St., S.E., P.O. Box 7000, Leesburg, VA 20177.

The one-page narrative should include the student's name, address, telephone number, school and a description, including length of service of the exemplary volunteer efforts of the student. Contact information for the person nominating the student should also be included.

Volunteers will be featured in the Loudoun Volunteer Services Newsletter and on the Loudoun County Government Web site. Contact Lisa Rose, volunteer coordinator, at

703-777-0113.

Loudoun MADD is selling the red MADD CHOOSE COURAGE community awareness wristbands for $1, which can be mailed for an additional $.50 each. The wristbands can be purchased by sending a check to Loudoun MADD at P.O. Box 4252, Leesburg, VA 20177, with the number of wristbands for purchase. Visit the Loudoun MADD Web site at www.maddloudounva.org to see a picture of the wristbands. For questions send an e-mail to maddloudoun@aol.com.

Residents and businesses using the Loudoun County Recycling Drop-off Centers are reminded that the recycling centers accept only mixed bottles, cans, and paper. Specifically, items that are accepted at the recycling centers include clear- and colored-glass bottles and jars; aluminum and steel cans; plastic bottles and jugs Ñ beverage, detergent and squeeze bottles and jugs only; newspapers; magazines; phone books; catalogs; junk mail; office paper; cardboard; and paperboard such as cereal boxes.

Items that are not accepted at the centers include plastic bags; plastic flower pots; Styrofoam; or any other type of plastic that is not specifically a bottle or jug; window glass; plate-glass; porcelain; wood; yard waste; furniture; needles; nails; construction materials; electronics; hazardous chemicals or chemical containers; and motor oil containers.

If an item is not listed on the sign as acceptable for recycling, do not deposit it in the recycling bin, and instead call the Loudoun County Office of Solid Waste Management at 703-777-0187. For more information visit www.loudoun.gov/oswm.