Community Notes

COMMUNITY NOTES

August 23, 2006

Exemption OKs gifts from IRAs to charities

Barbara Lawson, president and chief executive officer of the Columbia Foundation, encourages prospective donors to take advantage of an exemption recently signed into law allowing tax-free donations to be made from IRAs or Roth IRAs directly to charities.

Owners of traditional and Roth IRAs, ages 70 1/2 or older, can make the tax-free donation only this year and next, unless Congress extends the window of opportunity beyond 2007.

The foundation has awarded nearly $8 million in grants to Howard County nonprofit organizations. The money comes primarily from income generated by the foundation's endowment, supported by more than 170 funds established by local businesses, families and individuals.

Information: 410-730-7840, or www.columbiafoundation.org.

Applebee's joins Alex's fundraiser

Ninety-seven Applebee's restaurants in Maryland, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, Virginia and New Jersey will sell $5 paper lemons and glasses of lemonade this month to help raise money for Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, a nonprofit organization that raises money for research on childhood cancer.

The company raised $166,000 last year; participating restaurants hope to raise more than $200,000 this year.

Alexandra "Alex" Scott, a 4-year-old cancer patient whose family lives in Pennsylvania, sold lemonade at a stand on her lawn each year for four years to raise money to find a cure for childhood cancer. She died Aug. 1, 2004, at age 8.

Information: www.alexs lemonade.org.

Classes to help smokers quit

In support of the new Howard County smoking ban, the Health Department's Tobacco Control Program will offer free smoking-cessation classes, open to anyone who lives or works in the county.

The eight-week program, which includes free medication, will be held from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays, starting Sept. 5; classes will also be offered from noon to 1 p.m. or 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays, starting Sept. 6. The program will be held at the Howard County Health Department, 7178 Columbia Gateway Drive, Columbia.

The registration deadline for September classes is Aug. 31.

Information or registration: 410-313-6268, or www.hchealth. org. Or 800-QUITNOW and www.smokingstopshere.com.

Sales-tax holiday starts today

Clothing and footwear sold in Maryland today through Sunday and priced at $100 or less per item will be exempt from the 5 percent sales tax.

The five-day sales tax holiday is intended to encourage back-to-school, summer-clearance and other shopping and to boost end-of-summer retail sales.

Information: http:--individuals.marylandtaxes.com/usetax/taxfree/faq.asp, or 410-260-7980.

Grants to help pay utility bills

The Community Action Council has announced that grants of $65 will be awarded to seniors, ages 62 and older, and disabled people to assist with the increased cost of utility bills. About 725 families are expected to benefit.

Funding for the grants is provided by Howard County government. The one-time grants are available, starting this month.

The council will automatically process grants for people receiving Maryland Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) aid during fiscal year 2006 -- July 1, 2005, through June 30, 2006.

Seniors and disabled people who apply for MEAP assistance for the first time during the current grant year, which began July 1, will receive the supplemental grant when they are determined to be eligible for MEAP.

Information: 410-313-6440.

Candidates forum to be rebroadcast

The League of Women Voters' forum for candidates for state's attorney and Circuit Court judges, scheduled from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. yesterday, will be rebroadcast on Gtv, Cable channel 70.

A forum for Board of Education candidates will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday in Room B37 at the Applications and Research Lab, 10920 Route 108, Ellicott City. It will be rebroadcast on Cable channel 72.

Information: Barbara Russell, 410-730-4024.

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