Sometimes a personal interest can lead kids down unexpected paths. Three friends at Ellicott Mills Middle School -- Melissa Taylor, Jamie Betts and Cinnamon Pfaff -- had an interest in natural disasters, so they chose to do a Type III Talent Pool project for the Gifted and Talented Program.
In their research, the girls contacted Julie Ellsworth Cox of the Central Maryland Chapter of the Red Cross, who told them that 600 homeless families were still living in Red Cross shelters as a result of California's latest earthquake.
The girls' gifted-and-talented project then became a service project. They decided to make 100 friendship boxes for the children who were still living in the shelters. The 5-by-8-foot boxes will contain items to entertain and help the children until they are living in their homes again.
The boxes will include action figures, markers, playing cards and pencils, and practical items such as toothbrushes.
But this was too much expense for three girls, so the service project needed a fund-raiser. They are holding an end-of-year party today for the sixth grade, with the admission price being an item for a friendship box.
Parent Linda Betts called Mike McCarthy of WMIX radio station in Baltimore to tell him about the event, and he volunteered to play master of ceremonies and disc jockey.
The party now will be a dance, and other sixth-graders are so interested in the project that many are writing letters to include in the friendship boxes.
Congratulations to Jamie, Melissa, and Cinnamon, their teacher Judy Cephas, parent Linda Betts and Mike McCarthy for working together to help others while throwing a party.
Members of the community who may have items for the friendship boxes are invited to contribute.
Call the school at 313-2839 for information.
This is the week of the Elkridge Days Carnival, a weeklong town meeting of fun and community events.
Held on U.S. 1 in the old Elkridge Drive-In Theatre, Elkridge Days combines the best of a carnival -- dizzying rides and games of chance -- with fund-raising booths rented by local community groups such as churches, Kiwanis Club, Jaycees, the Fire Department and Scout groups.
The carnival will be held from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. today through Thursday, and until 11 p.m. Friday.
At noon Saturday, community groups will string a parade down Old Washington Boulevard, starting at the south end and finishing at St. Augustine's School.
The community thanks the Elkridge Business and Professional Association for throwing this big party every year.
One of the groups active in the carnival will be the Elkridge Area Jaycees. The group will hold its next membership meeting at the carnival, featuring the Police Department Crash Dummies speaking on child safety Wednesday.
The group also will raise funds for its activities by selling raffle tickets for two sets of Orioles tickets.
On June 1, the Jaycees board of directors made final the group's 1994-1995 Plan of Action.
The year includes service projects the community has come to depend on, such as the Holiday Food Baskets, Santa visits, Adopt-a-Highway, the Brumbaugh House projects, and participation in Project Care.
Member seminars on health and fitness and living will or will preparation are in the planning stages.
Adult and family socials will provide the year's fun, including a trip to Toby's Dinner Theatre and a family picnic at Centennial Park.
All interested Elkridge-area residents between the ages of 21 and 39 are invited to attend and consider membership.
For additional information, contact Beth Niessner at 536-0566.
Elkridge Project Care will sponsor "Independence Evening" for Senior Citizens in the Elkridge area from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. June 22 at the Elkridge Community Library.
The free event will provide information on resources designed to help seniors remain comfortably in their homes.
The program will include a presentation, a short film and exhibits.
Project Care member Debbie Metzler says the purpose is "to let the community know that all sorts of assistance is available, ranging from agency services to commercial products. Often, our seniors and their care-givers try valiantly to cope with problems because they are not aware that there are resources to help them."
Refreshments will be provided at "Independence Evening." The Elkridge Community Library is at 6325 Washington Blvd.
Advance registration is appreciated.
To register or for information, call Arleen Kvech at (410) 313-7213.
I extend my congratulations to Centennial High School sophomores Greg Miller and Darin Oduyoye for their recent awards for writing.
Greg had a short story accepted by Marilyn's Pen, a national magazine of student writing.
Darin was selected as the Howard County winner in the "Maryland, You Are Beautiful" student literacy writing competition.