Send announcements to The Loudoun Connection, 7913 Westpark Drive, McLean, VA 22102, e-mail to 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 gift wrap center, open noon-8 p.m. daily, on the upper level of the Nordstrom wing of Dulles Town Center will contribute 100 percent of the proceeds to the Loudoun County chapters of ECHO and LARC. ECHO, Every Citizen Has Opportunities, is a private nonprofit agency, which provides training, employment and transportation services for citizens with disabilities. LARC is the countyÕs only nonprofit advocacy organization for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

The Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) will be offering the annual winter SoberRide program, which will operate between 8 p.m.-4 a.m., Dec. 9-Jan. 1. Residents 21 and older, celebrating with alcohol can call the tool free number, 1-800-200-TAXI, and be afforded a no-cost Ñ up to $50 fare Ñ safe way home. Cingualr customers can dial #-TAXI for the same service.

The program is offered in Washington, D.C.; Montgomery and Prince George's counties in Maryland; and the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, eastern Loudoun and Prince William in Virginia. Visit

A donor has pledged to match every dollar Ñ up to $10,000 Ñ raised by the Loudoun Literacy Council Inc. on or before 6 p.m., Dec. 31. The donor wishes to remain anonymous but would like to encourage other donors to give during December. Donations can be sent to Loudoun Literacy Council Inc., P.O. Box 1932, Leesburg, VA 20177 or call 703-777-2205.

During the month of December, anyone who adopts a cat or kitten from the Loudoun County Animal Shelter will receive a certificate good for a free cat or kitten adoption.

The certificate can be used to adopt a second companion cat or can be given as a gift to a friend or loved one.

The certificate covers the entire adoption fee, including spay/neuter surgery if necessary and is good through Dec. 31, 2006.

Cat adopters will also receive a special holiday gift for their new feline friend.

This program is designed to encourage cat adoptions, as well as to remind people that cats living in a household with a feline companion generally lead healthier, happier lives than their solo counterparts.

Call the Animal Shelter at 703-777-0406 or e-mail

Loudoun artists are donating art supplies to an arts community in Hancock County, Miss., that was totally devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Many of the artists there lost their homes and their livelihoods when their studios, equipment, supplies and artwork were destroyed.

The effort is being coordinated through the Loudoun Academy of the Arts Foundation in Leesburg, which is accepting art and miscellaneous supplies of all kinds as well as transportation money to drive the items to Hancock County. To date, the academy has collected paints and brushes, a pottery wheel, photography equipment, easels and a computer. It is also seeking working pottery kilns and a car or van.

Anyone wishing to donate, contact the Loudoun Academy of the Arts at 703-777-8043 or Gallery 222 at 703-777-5498.

The supplies will be driven to Mississippi after Christmas and before the end of the year.

The Loudoun Chorale, under the direction of R. William Propst, announces its 2006 spring concert and preparatory rehearsals. The spring concert, to be performed April 22, 23, and 29, will feature the patriotic Testament of Freedom by Randall Thompson, and other selected works.

Rehearsals begin Sunday, Jan. 8, at 5:30 p.m., at the Leesburg Presbyterian Church, 207 West Market St., Leesburg. Soprano, alto, tenor and baritone/bass singers interested in joining the 65-member chorale ensemble are welcomed, and are responsible for membership dues and the cost of their music.

Visit or call 703-729-8974 or 703-443-0995.

The Ashburn Volunteer Fire Rescue Department and the Ladies Auxiliary of the Military Order of the Purple Heart are sponsoring "Operation Welcome Home," to provide items to the servicemen and women recovering at Walter Reed Hospital over the holidays. Recommended items include gift cards from any local department store or local restaurants.

All of the servicemen and women have been seriously wounded, are amputees or are undergoing extensive rehabilitation therapy. Several have been living there a year or more. Many have small children, ranging from infants to 12 years. Call 703 729-0006.

NXL, better known as Next Level 4 Teens, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating positive experiences for LoudounÕs youth will be welcoming county teens to its new after-school program as early as January 2006. The first of its kind in Loudoun, NXLÕs Educational Teen Center will feature a multi-purpose room for tutoring, workshops, and seminars, a computer lab, a game room, a lounge area, and a cafe. Students in grades sixth-12th will be able to go to one place to do a variety of things, from studying and getting help with homework to playing video games and eating pizza with friends.

This holiday season, NXL will also be featuring its first publication geared toward youth and families. During the month of December, a complimentary issue will be distributed to more than 5,000 homes in the Ashburn area. The magazine will provide readers with plenty of information on youth and family issues, advice from counselors, nutritionists and educators, articles written for teens by teens, parent pages and more.

Visit the official NXL Web site at; e-mail, or call 571-214-1747.

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

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,, or call the Department of Economic Development at 703-777-0426. For further information, visit the Web site at

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. An information meeting will be held at Herndon Fortnightly Library, 768 Center St., Saturday, Jan. 21, at 10:30 a.m. For additional TNT information, call the National Capital Area

Chapter at 703-960-1100 or visit

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 and click on the OLGA (On-Line Grants Administration) spotlight box.

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 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


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 to see a picture of the wristbands. For questions send an e-mail to

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