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    Sterling, Cascades & CountrySide
    COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: Hearts Full of Cheer
    This is the time of year that many of us are looking for opportunities to help others in our community. If you’re wondering about your local options for volunteering and donations, keep some of these important area efforts in mind. And, remember, these programs are in place 365 days a year. Volunteers and donations are always welcome at any time.

    The Hope’s Treasures Retail Store in the Regal Shopping Center (near the intersection of route 7 and Countryside Boulevard): Whenever you have items—housewares, clothing, books, electronics and more—to donate to a good cause, this is the place to go. And, whenever you have a need for items that are very reasonably priced, this is the place to shop. The Sterling branch of Hope’s Treasures is the oldest store in the three-store retail fundraising program of the Good Shepherd Alliance, which provides help for the homeless and those in need. Information is online at goodshepherdalliance.org/retailstore.

    The LINK food pantry program (collection and distribution points at various locations, including Christ the Redeemer Church on route 7 in Sterling): LINK provides emergency food to those in need in Sterling, Ashburn and Herndon. Donations and volunteers are needed for projects such as the 2014 holiday program, LINK emergency deliveries and the Lowes Island Elementary food pickup project. Information is online at linkagainsthunger.org and tinyurl.com/linkhelp2014.

    The Backpack Buddies program
    (at Galilee United Methodist Church at Broad Run in Sterling): This project provides weekend, summer, and holiday meal packs to students receiving free or reduced-price meals at Loudoun County schools. Each week, the Galilee team prepares more than 300 meal packs for schools in eastern Loudoun. Donations and volunteers are welcome. Information is online at galileeumc.org (click on the “Serve” button) and mybackpackbuddies.org.

    Toys for Tots:
    The Cascades Community Association is accepting donations of new toys for the Toys for Tots campaign until Dec. 14 at the association office at 47620 Saulty Drive in Potomac Falls. For information, call 703-406-0820.

    Tree lighting: CountrySide presents its first Winter Festival Tree with a tree lighting ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 13, at the new gazebo at the Parkway Pool on Algonkian Parkway. The one-hour ceremony begins at 5 p.m. and features hot chocolate, cider, cookies, carol singing and a special appearance by Santa Claus. Wear your holiday brightest and warmest and bring the kids and a camera.

    Holiday cabaret: The StageCoach Theatre Company, co-founded by CountrySider Terry Smith, is now selling tickets for the company’s Christmas cabaret, “Jingling all the Way,” an evening that includes dinner and a show. Performances take place Dec. 13 at the Holiday Inn at Historic Carradoc Hall (the show begins at 7 p.m., doors open at 6:30 p.m.) and Dec. 14 at Oatlands (show at 6:30 p.m., doors open at 6:00 p.m.). More information is available at stagecoachtc.com.

    Contact Kathie Felix at KFinLoudoun[at]aol.com.
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    STERLING BOULEVARD: Have you been naughty … or nice?
    Every holiday, we ask our children this question; expecting the answer of "nice" knowing very well the best we can possibly hope for is "well, I can explain..." This holiday season, just like our kids, we get a mixture of activities. Most are wonderfully nice, but some are … well, you know.

    With their holiday show finished up this past weekend, you'd think that the Sterling Playmakers would get out all of their laurels and rest on them a bit. But no. They are right back into the grind with auditions this week for their new production, "Bad Girls of Western Lit."

    Compiled from plays such as “MacBeth” and “The Dollhouse,” this original production shows off women who went against the grain, and might have been a little bit naughty (in Lady MacBeth's case – a lot bit naughty).

    The Playmakers are looking for adult women and men to sink their teeth into these roles. Auditions are 7-9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 12 and 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 13, at the Sterling Community Center on Enterprise Street.

    The show will hit the stage Feb. 27-28 and March 1, so be sure to mark your calendars. For more information, visit http://www.SterlingPlaymakers.com.

    But maybe you're looking for something nice to do with the kids?

    And what could be nicer than Santa, Mrs. Claus and some elves thrown in for good measure?

    The Sterling Community Center is throwing its lunch with Santa this Saturday, Dec. 13, for kids of all ages. The festivities kick of at 11 a.m. and go until 12:30 p.m. You'll not only have lunch, but games and crafts with your favorite resident of the North Pole. The cost is $8 for kids and $4 for parents who want their own chance to get their wish list to Santa. Space is limited, so you must register by calling the community center at 703-430-9480.

    Speaking of Santa, this is your last week to allow the Sterling Community Center to handle your letters to him. Register your child, and pay the $4 "postage" and your child will get a personalized letter from Santa, the official North Pole newsletter, elf-inspired craft ideas and much more. You must have your form in by Dec. 15. To learn more, call the community center at 703-430-9480, and ask to be put on their very nice list. They'll be sure to put in a good word with Santa for your kids.

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    COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: Eastern Loudoun Students in the Spotlight
    Eastern Loudoun students earned top honors in a number of arenas recently, including scholarship awards and marching band and orchestra recognitions.

    Dominion High School students made a strong showing as National Merit Scholarship semifinalists, earning nine of the 40 spots that went to Loudoun County Public Schools students. The honorees were selected by their junior year PSAT/NMSQT exam results.

    The National Merit Scholarship semifinalists from Dominion are Katherine Armstrong, Rehan Baddeliyanage, Dor Friedman, Arushi Gupta, Audrey Newman, Samuel Rankin, Ethan Raphael, Katie Shen and Sarah Yang.

    Two students from Potomac Falls High School also earned national honors. Luke Borman is a National Merit semifinalist and Kayla Wright-Freeman is a National Achievement Scholarship semifinalist.

    Marching band:
    Dominion High School color guard member Katie Ledwell was named to the 2015 U.S. Army All-American Marching Band. Ledwell was selected as one of the top 125 high school senior color guard members in the nation. The honor includes the opportunity to perform on Jan. 3 at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl football game at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

    Regional orchestra: Four eastern Loudoun students were selected by audition to perform with students from Fauquier, Loudoun, Prince William, Spotsylvania and Stafford counties in the North Central Virginia Regional Orchestra at Fauquier High School in November. The orchestra included Justin Ghofrany and Elizabeth Hur of River Bend Middle School and Francesca Babetski and Shane Crowe of Dominion High School.

    Teen gamers wanted:
    High school students can earn volunteer hours by helping youngsters play Wii and board games at the Cascades Library on Tuesday, Dec. 30, from 2 to 4 p.m. Volunteers must register to participate by Dec. 16. For information, call 703-444-3228.

    Group games: On Dec. 5, the After-Hours Teen Center at the Cascades Library focuses on group games, with opportunities to meet new teens and take on group challenges. On Dec. 12, the teen center presents a Winter Wonderland, complete with opportunities to make wintry dioramas using sweet treats, design gift wrap and create a snowglobe. Computers, additional gaming opportunities, art supplies and pizza will be available. Teens must arrive by 7:30 p.m. and must be picked up by 10 p.m.

    Cinderella on stage:
    The River Bend Middle School Drama Club presents Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” at the school on Dec. 5, 6 and 7 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $7. For information, call 571-434-3220.

    Contact Kathie Felix at KFinLoudoun[at]aol.com.
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    STERLING BOULEVARD: Holiday happenings
    COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: Helping Military Heroes in Need
    STERLING BOULEVARD: Thankful
    COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: Late fall fun for everyone
    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
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