In the holiday rush to buy just the right sweater for Dad or the last remaining "Dr. Mario" in the 21061 ZIP code for Junior, it's easy to forget the soul of the Christmas season.
The congregation of St. James Church of the Apostolic Faith hasn't forgotten. From 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, the church, at 7566 E. Howard Road in Marley, will offer a free holiday dinner to members of the community who might otherwise not enjoy what so many take for granted.
"We'll have turkey and all the trimmings," said Betty Pollard, coordinator of the food project. "This is part of our outreach mission. We serve a dinner every Wednesday night for free, and the Christmas dinner has become an annual event with us."
In addition to dinner, toys and clothing will be distributed. Local businesses donated several door prizes that will be awarded throughout the afternoon.
The choir of St. James will perform Christmas carols under the direction of Valinda Keamer. Jacquelin Johnson will provide the musical accompaniment.
For more information on Saturday's dinner or the regular Wednesday meals, call the church office at 761-9272 on Wednesday afternoons.
* The children in Glen Burnie must have a special connection with the folks at the North Pole, because Santa Claus has scheduled a drive through several neighborhoods prior to his around the world tour.
The Glen Burnie Improvement Association-sponsored event has become a tradition, with Santa visiting the grandchildren of many who were children when they saw his first ride 53 years ago.
Rain or shine (or snow?), Santa Claus will begin his travels at 5:30 p.m. at Georgia Avenue and Maple Lane, then wander through the neighborhoods on the west side of Crain Highway. By 7:15, he should be crossing Crain Highway to N Street and Third Avenue. He is expected in the Glen Gardens community at Harford and Delaware around 8 and will proceed into Acreslee for his last stop at Roseann and Marie avenues at approximately 8:30.
All times are approximate and will be determined by the weather. For an exact route, contact the association at 766-6760.
* The four Sundays of Advent have a special meaning to the members of the Glen Burnie Methodist Church. Each day has a specific designation, the Rev.
Olan Herdon said.
"The first Sunday was the candle of peace. Everyone in the congregation wrote a Christmas message of holiday peace in a card. Then Allen Kellenberger took the cards and messages to his son, Ralph Kellenberger, who was waiting at Dover Air Force Base, ready to fly out to Saudi Arabia."
The second Sunday was the candle of hope. Members of the congregation were asked to bring in first-aid supplies and household staples, which were delivered to the Don Miller House in Baltimore for the care of AIDS patients.
Last Sunday was the candle of joy; the congregation brought in books, toys and baby supplies for the church nursery.
The final Sunday of Advent has been designated the candle of love.
Donations of food staples will be used for food baskets for shut-ins.
* A limited number of spaces is available at the after-school fun center at Point Pleasant Elementary School. Sponsored through the county's Department of Recreation and Parks, the state-licensed child-care program is available for the school's first- through fifth-graders.
Nelline Harrell and Belinda Johnson supervise the program's activities, which include indoor and outdoor games, arts and crafts, enrichment opportunities, special events and individual and group activities. Children may also use their time at the center to complete their homework, study or rest.
The cost for the first child in a family is $120 a month. The second child can be enrolled for $100 a month. The program runs from 3 to 6 p.m.
Monday through Friday, whenever school is in session.
"The program is growing. We're very pleased with how well it's doing," said Howard Smith, coordinator at Recreation and Parks.
For registration information, call Smith at 222-3600.
* Members of the Northern Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce are invited to a holiday open house from 1 to 5 p.m. tomorrow in the chamber offices, 8 Crain Highway, Suite 2.
Hot and cold hors d'oeuvres, spiced wine and other seasonal treats will be served throughout the afternoon.
"We've invited all the members of the chamber to join us," said acting Director Lisa Pitt. "Businesspeople who haven't joined are welcome to stop by and meet the members and see what the chamber has to offer them."
Call 766-8282 for information about the open house and the chamber.
* It's party time at the Freetown Rec Center, 7820 Darrell Henry Court.
Sponsored by Recreation and Parks and the Freetown Tenant Council, the party starts at 7 p.m. Saturday and is for the children in the community.
Refreshments, gifts, storytelling by Joyce Gough and a chance to have your photo taken with Santa are some of the activities leading up to . . .