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    Sterling, Cascades & CountrySide
    COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: Helping Military Heroes in Need
    A helping hand from Raytheon in Dulles/Sterling gave the Mid-Atlantic field office of Operation Homefront a strong head start for its annual end-of-the-year effort to gather resources to provide emergency assistance to the families of service members and wounded warriors.

    The Raytheon Intelligence Information and Services division kicked off the giving season with a Veterans Day-related donation of $7,000 in gift cards from national chain stores that will be used to provide food and assistance throughout the year. Raytheon raised the funds through a national outreach effort that included company offices in Colorado, Indiana, Massachusetts and Texas.

    “This is something that our employees were anxious to do,” Steve Temple, vice president of integrated operations at Raytheon said, explaining that the company’s employee base includes a substantial percentage of veterans and that, every day, Raytheon employees work side-by-side with members of the deployed military.

    The company collected the gift card donations through Operation Homefront’s “giving quilt” program, a project created about five years ago by Becky Lowe, an Operation Homefront volunteer and member of the CountrySide Quilters.

    Lowe and other members of the quilting group made wall-hanging-sized quilts with pockets for gift cards. The quilts were donated to the Operation Homefront office on Nokes Boulevard and are available on loan to any company or organization—including churches, scouting groups and membership clubs—interested in participating in the project.

    “One of the things that really appealed to us was in helping our wounded veterans in their recovery and [in] the financial crisis that often happens when service members are deployed and their spouse and children are left to deal with that,” Temple said. “This helps Operation Homefront respond to those urgent needs.”

    To participate in the Operation Homefront Giving Quilt program, contact Pam McNamee at 703-421-9033 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

    Little Lights: Moms and Kids Making a Difference (MAKMAD), a Lowes Island-based effort that enables families to work together to help those in need, is gathering donations for its Christmas store, a place where children living in Southeast D.C. can choose a gift at no cost for their mother, grandmother or other caregiver. The goal is the donation by Nov. 30 of 100 gifts such as new kitchen items, shawls or hat/glove/scarf sets. Gift card donations are welcome to enable the organization to fill in any inventory gaps. Donations of children’s books are also needed, to enable the young “shoppers” to select a book for themselves. Donation suggestions are online at http://tinyurl.com/MAKMADstore To ma.ke arrangements to deliver a donation, email Kim Blough at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

    Contact Kathie Felix at KFinLoudoun[at]aol.com.
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    STERLING BOULEVARD: Thankful
    This time of year, we hear the word “thankful” a lot. Sometimes, it’s not even for things that are that great – like a person is “thankful” they got a parking spot up close or just made the light. But right here in Sterling, we have plenty of big things to be thankful for – like our neighbors, groups that enhance the community and organizations that reach out beyond their walls to embrace everyone. And that’s exactly what I’m thankful for.

    When you write for a living or for a hobby, it’s like having your ego on a bucking bronco and getting thrown an awful lot. Writers tend to be a bit nervous about asking others for opinions on their writing – there’s that nagging fear that the person will actually say what they think. However, writing can’t exist without readers, and what any writer really needs is constructive, supportive criticism and encouragement, so that’s what Chapter Four is offering. They’ll be meeting at the Sterling Library on Enterprise Street on Monday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. Whether you’re a newbie to verbs and nouns, or got those prepositional phrases down pat, you’re welcome to just show up and get some friendly ears and eyes for your latest opus.

    If you missed “Once Upon a Mattress” from the Sterling Playmakers, you missed a whole lot of fun. Luckily for us, though, we can count on our local theatre group to send us into the holidays with a song in our heart and a laugh in our throat. The Playmakers will be putting on their holiday show, Holiday Happening 2014, Dec. 5-7 at the Sterling Middle School Auditorium. Tickets will go on sale soon, so don’t miss it. For more details, you can go to http://www.SterlingPlaymakers.com and get ready to get into the holiday spirit.

    Although many of us will be sharing our Thanksgiving table with family, no one ever said how big that family – or that table – had to be. Who says you can’t share the holiday with your community family? St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church on Frederick Drive will be hosting a community Thanksgiving dinner from noon until 4 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 27. Just show up. You can also offer to help them throw this amazing feast; because there’s a lot of turkeys to baste. Just contact the church at http://www.stmtts.org or call 703-430-2121.

    And thanks!

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    COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: Late fall fun for everyone
    Get ready to phone a friend and make some plans. There's plenty to do in eastern Loudoun for everyone, from the retired set to toddlers, teens and pet lovers.

    Holiday fun: The Cascades Senior Center offers a trio of opportunities to celebrate the winter holidays. The festivities launch with a Thanksgiving feast, complete with all the trimmings, on Thursday, Nov. 20, at noon. A lunch donation is requested. Next in line is a holiday potluck dinner on Tuesday, Dec. 16, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The evening includes a holiday performance by the Park View High School Band. Admission is free if you bring a dish to share and a small gift ($5 value) for a gift exchange. For those not bringing a dish and a gift, advance tickets are $5 for members and $7 for nonmembers. The center will ring in 2015 with a new year’s party and dance on Tuesday, Dec. 30, from 2 to 4 p.m. Snacks and beverages will be served. Transportation will be available after the event. Advance tickets are $5 for members and $7 for nonmembers. For information, call 571-258-3280.

    Toddler Treks: Algonkian Park is offering a series of Fresh Air Toddler Treks Nov. 20 and Dec. 4, 11 and 18, from 10 to 11 a.m. With the help of The Audubon Naturalist Society, the park authority program provides nature-based programming for youngsters ages 2 to 5 and a parent or caregiver. The sessions use songs, books and hikes to foster the development of social, physical and academic skills. Participants should dress for the weather and bring a lunch to share at the park’s picnic tables. Registration is required. The cost is $42; ages two and younger are free. Younger siblings are welcome to attend. For information, call 703-669-0000 or send email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

    Teen nights: The After Hours Teen Center at the Cascades Library presents DJ Joe Schwarz on Friday, Nov. 21, from 7 to 10 p.m. The teen center, open to middle and high school students, also offers games, computer access, music, arts and crafts activities and pizza. Admission is free. The center will be closed on Friday, Nov. 28.

    Pet photos: Just in time for the holiday card season, Dulles Town Center presents two chances to get a festive photo of your dog or cat with Santa. Pet photo mornings will take place Nov. 30 and Dec. 7 from 8 to 10 a.m. All pets must enter through the mall’s main entrance, near Vapiano. Pets must be on a leash or in a carrier, must be up to date with all shots and must be licensed.

    Contact Kathie Felix at KFinLoudoun[at]aol.com.
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    STERLING BOULEVARD: Something to be thankful for
    COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: Mobile Hope Needs Your Help
    STERLING BOULEVARD:  Once upon a craft show
    COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: Share a Laugh with the Girl Scouts
    STERLING BOULEVARD: Ands, ifs and butts
    CountrySide/Cascades/Sterling: “From the Top,” Live from River Bend
    STERLING BOULEVARD: Out on the streets
    COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: Cascades is Running for Trish
    STERLING BOULEVARD: Find a friend
    STERLING BOULEVARD: Helping those who help us
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