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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 Special Olympics fall season is beginning. For qualifying information, and to sign up, call the Special Olympics Loudoun area coordinator at 703-777-0438. The schedule is as follows:

* Unified Team Bowling (four person), begins Sept. 10, practices Sundays, 12-3 p.m.

* Cheerleading, begins October, practices Fridays, 5:30- 7 p.m.

An online auction benefiting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, will take place through Sept. 16. Local businesses and restaurants have donated gift cards and other items to raise money for the Society. Bidding will take place at www.leahandfriendsteam.com.

The Loudoun Youth Advisory Council is recruiting youth representatives in grades ninth-12th, for the 2006-2007 school year. The Loudoun Youth Advisory Council is a consortium of youth representatives from Loudoun County's public, private, parochial and home schools who promote leadership and advocate for youth issues to community leaders and the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors.

Council meetings are held the second Monday of each month in the Board of Supervisors meeting room of the Loudoun County Government Center, located at 1 Harrison St., S.E., Leesburg.

The application can be found on the Loudoun Youth Initiative Web site at www.loudounteens.org. For more information about the Youth Advisory Council or the Loudoun Youth Initiative, contact Angela Johnson, Loudoun Youth Initiative at 571-258-3135 or by e-mail at ajohnso1@loudoun.gov.

The Virginia Foundation Center for the Book is holding the 2006-07 Letters About Literature writing competition. Students in grades four-12 are invited to write a letter to the author of a favorite book. State winners will be invited to appear at the opening ceremony of the 2007 Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville and will be eligible for the national competition.

To enter, write a personal letter to an author, explaining how the authorÕs work changed the studentÕs view of the world or themselves. Young readers can select authors from any genre.

The center will select the top letter writers in three competition levels: Level I for children in grades four-six; Level II for grades seven-eight, and Level III, grades nine-12. Deadline for entries is Dec. 8. Call 434-924-3296, e-mailing spcoleman@virginia.edu or Visit www.virginiafoundation.org/bookcenter.

Winners will receive a cash prize and a $50 gift card from Target and will be invited to read their letters at the ceremony.

Loudoun Volunteer Services (LVS) is seeking nominations for outstanding student volunteers, to be recognized as Student Volunteer of the Month.

The qualifying student, or group of students, must be enrolled in Loudoun County public, private or home-school grades kindergarten through 12th. Nominees must demonstrate contributions to the Loudoun County community through exceptional volunteer service.

Students who are selected as Student Volunteer of the Month will receive recognition through their school, the media and Loudoun Volunteer Services' Web site and will receive a $100 donation to a local nonprofit of the student's choice. Recognition is given monthly, during the school year, September through June.

For a written description of the nomination process and criteria, contact Lisa Rose, volunteer coordinator, at 703-777-0113 or visit www.loudoun.gov/pio/volunteer.htm.

The Loudoun Symphony Youth Orchestra will hold auditions for the 2006-2007 season. Open to young musicians age 10-18 years who have had a minimum of two years of private instruction or who have participated in a school band or orchestra program for two years. The orchestra meets weekly in Leesburg, performs three-four times per year and is conducted by Mark Allen McCoy. Auditions will be held Saturday, Sept. 9 and Saturday, Sept. 17, at Loudoun Country Day School in Leesburg. There is no audition fee, however, individuals must preregister to arrange an audition.

The audition requirements are a short solo, scales up to three flats and three sharps, two or three octaves, and sight-reading. Students must provide their own instrument. A limited number of financial aid scholarships are available. Contact the Loudoun Symphony office at 703-771-8287 or e-mail LSYO@loudounsymphony.org.

The Loudoun Symphony announces performing opportunities for paid principal string positions and for nonpaid section strings and brass positions for the 2006-2007 season. Paid principal string positions are assistant concertmaster and principal viola. Nonpaid positions are second trumpet, fourth horn and section strings. Auditions will take place in the afternoon Sunday, Sept. 10, in Leesburg. The orchestra rehearsals for the 2006-2007 season are Wednesday evenings, September 2006-May 2007.

Individuals interested in auditioning should specify the instrument and send name, address, and daytime phone number along with a $5 nonrefundable fee payable to: Loudoun Symphony, P.O. Box 4478, Leesburg, VA 20177. Repertoire and an audition time slot will be forwarded by mail. Call the Loudoun Symphony office at 703-771-8287.

Leesburg Crossroads' ÒFall into the ArtsÓ committee invites all Northern Virginia artists, in any fine-art media, to submit work for a juried art exhibit at LeesburgÕs fourth annual ÒFall into the Arts festival.Ó This yearÕs festival will be held Saturday, Oct. 14, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m., in historic downtown Leesburg.

Artists may submit up to three original works as photos, slides or jpegs to ÒFall into the Arts Jury,Ó c/o Loudoun Academy of the Arts, 222 South King St., Leesburg, VA 20175 or e-mail jpegs to lcapraro@leesburgva.gov. The entry deadline is Sept. 14. Call 703-737-7084 or visit www.fallintothearts.org.

Throughout the month of September, Cold Stone Creamery locations will be selling Make-A-Wish wall stars, benefiting he Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Mid-Atlantic. The month-long fund-raiser will culminate with the WorldÕs Largest Ice Cream Social Sept. 28. From 5-8 p.m., customers visiting a Cold Stone Creamery location will receive a free serving of ColeÕs Creation while being encouraged to donate to the foundation. Donations accepted during September will directly benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Mid-Atlantic, a nonprofit organization that fulfills the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.

For a complete list of stores and more information about the fund-raiser, visit coldstonecreamery.com. For more information about the Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Mid-Atlantic, visit midatlantic.wish.org.

The Waterford Foundation is accepting submissions for the $2,500 Florence Kiley Fellowship, awarded each year to a Loudoun County artist who has just graduated or is entering his/her senior year of high school.

Entry is limited to two works per artist, which must be submitted to the Tin Shop in Waterford Saturday, Sept. 30, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. The work must be ready to hang with screw eyes and wires attached. Entries will be exhibited at this yearÕs Waterford Fair. For a complete prospectus and entry form, and for more information, call the Waterford Foundation at 540-882-3085 or 540-882-3018 or www.waterfordva.org.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is holding the 14th annual Plane Pull, part of the Dulles Day Family Festival, Oct. 7. Teams are needed for the plane pull event, which benefits Special Olympics Virginia. A plane pull team is made up of 20 people who pull the plane 12 feet by a rope attached to the front wheels. A minimum of $1,000 in team sponsorship is required. teams receive 25 customized team T-Shirts, a plaque and team photo, and a company listing on the event Web site and promotional material. Trophies awarded in several categories. Call Michelle Gates, 703-359-4301 or visit www.planepull.com.

The USO of Metropolitan Washington is seeking entries for its annual photography contest. Submissions should have a military theme with a local emphasis. Photos from sites in and around the Maryland/Washington, D.C./Northern Virginia areas are preferred.

The deadline for entries is Oct. 16 and the winner will be chosen and notified Nov. 20. The winner will receive $300 in cash and the photo will appear on the cover of the 2007 USO Guide to Washington and Baltimore, published in January, 2007. The winning photo will also appear as the opening page on USO-Metro's Web site, www.USOMetroDC.org.

Photos which do not win the contest may be used in other publications, with attribution. Written permission to publish photos must accompany submissions.

The contest is open to all military identification card holders including retirees, members of the reserves and National Guard as well as Department of Defense civilians, members of the Coast Guard and the Merchant Marine.

To submit photos to: USO-Metro Photography Contest, ATTN: Erica Chapman, P.O. Box 1710, Ft. Myer, VA 22211. For more information, call 703-696-5655.

George Mason University and the Loudoun Youth Initiative (LYI) have joined together to gather youth input as part of a community needs assessment that will inform and advise youth serving organizations in the county of Loudoun. Beginning with a summit that included youth and community leaders, continuing with a telephone survey that is being conducted this summer, followed by a series of youth focus groups that will be conducted in September, this youth and community outreach will result in a revised Strategic Plan for the LYI.

The culmination of this effort will be the third annual Step Up Loudoun event Nov. 9, that will focus on commitment, coordination and communication while working towards addressing the needs of county youth.

For more information, contact Tim Chesnutt, director of the Loudoun Youth Initiative, at 703-737-8346.

The Douglass Community Center child-care program has availability for new children. The program operates daily, from 7 a.m.-6:15 p.m. and serves children ages 3- prekindergarten, must be potty trained. Fees are $155 per week. Contact 703-771-5610 or e-mail dcc@loudoun.gov.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma SocietyÕs Team In Training (TNT) program has guaranteed race entries into the 2006 Marine Corps Marathon. TNT trains participants with help from certified coaches who develop a training program. In addition to running, the TNT also has a walk and run/walk program where participants with different abilities can alternate running and walking.

As participants train for the marathon, they also help the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society raise money to fund cancer research and patient support services.

Individuals interested in joining the TNT program for the Marine Corps Marathon or any of TNTÕs fall season events, call 703-960-1100 or visiting www.teamintraining.org/nca.

The grassroots nonprofit organization, Operation Pinecone, based in South Riding, strives to support the service members and their families by sending care packages abroad and delivering comfort items and providing support in various ways to service members at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. There are collection boxes for donations for this cause throughout Loudoun County. Visit Operation Pinecone, www.operationpinecone.org.

The Loudoun School Community Coalitions sponsor the ÒParents Who Host Lose the MostÓ campaign to reduce underage drinking and is asking parents to take a survey by visiting www.loudoun.k12.va.us, and click on the Òfor ParentsÓ button, then ÒCoalitions,Ó then the George Mason University survey button. It takes about three minutes, then hit the submit button.

Sponsored by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Loudoun Volunteer Services (LVS) has teamed with the White House to become a certifying organization for the "President's Volunteer Service Awards," a national program recognizing Americans who have demonstrated a sustained commitment to volunteer service. Issuing the award is the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation chaired by two-time Super Bowl Champion Darrell Green, with former U.S. Sens. Bob Dole and John Glenn as honorary co-chairs and composed of leaders in government, media, entertainment, business, education, nonprofit and volunteer service organizations and community volunteering. As one of the certifying organizations, LVS hopes to encourage and strengthen youth volunteerism in Loudoun County. Students in grades kindergaren-12th can visit their school's guidance office for a Student Volunteer Hours form, or go to www.loudoun.gov/pio/volunteer.htm.

The Senior Center at Cascades Marketplace, 21060 Whitfield Place, Sterling, is collecting unused eyeglasses to be recycled foe people who cannot afford to purchase eyeglasses. Call 703-430-2397.

The Community Holiday Coalition continues to search for a new location to hold its annual holiday program. Last year, hundreds of volunteers and donors made it possible to help 900 families at Thanksgiving and 1,200 families during the December holiday. The coalition is looking into several options and hoping to hear from facilities managers soon.

The mission of the coalition is to help serve less fortunate families, children and senior citizens by providing much needed items, in a manner that promotes dignity and self-respect. Anyone that could help in the search or has space available, is asked to contact Karen Velez, Holiday Store coordinator, at 703-771-5718 or visit www.loudoun.gov/dss/holiday.