Holiday giving opportunities
Two ways to 'Give where you live' with ACO's holiday drives
Each year, all five stations of the Allen Fire Department are the drop-off points for Allen Community Outreach's "Toys for OUR Tots" (not to be confused with the Toys for Tots campaign). The toys collected at the stations go to families in Allen and neighboring communities that sign up for assistance. All items must be new and unwrapped and may also be dropped off at Allen Community Outreach.
Also, there's still time to adopt a child, teen or senior and make sure they have warm clothes, shoes, bedding and other necessities this Christmas. Stocking stuffers are also needed for teens and seniors - such as gift cards, make-up, cologne, cookie tins, blankets, gloves and hats - and wrapping paper and tape. New bikes and helmets for all ages are also needed.
Donors for the holiday adoption program must sign up with ACO to be matched with a recipient and obtain other information, which includes a special drop-off location. Last year, more than 500 individuals were helped through ACO's Christmas Adoption Program.
Items for either holiday drive must be dropped off by Dec. 15. Allen Community Outreach is at 801 E. Main St. For information, call 972-727-9131 or visit www.acocares.org/
Toy drive benefits Children's Advocacy Center of Collin County
Through Dec. 11, drop off new, unwrapped toys at participating locations and help those in need in the community by donating to the Villages Holiday Toy Drive, benefitting Children's Advocacy Center of Collin County. Bring a new, unwrapped toy for the toy drive and help brighten the holidays for children in the area who have been abused or neglected.
Donation bins will be set up at events throughout the season as well as at The Village at Fairview Management Office and at participating retailers. Shoppers can visit www.thevillageshopping.com for a complete list of donation drop-off locations.
Salvation Army collecting Christmas gifts
Through the popular Angel Tree program, The Salvation Army will collect donated Christmas gifts to distribute to more than 50,000 children and senior citizens in the DFW area.
The gifts will be collected at 10 local shopping malls, as well as at companies and churches that operate Angel Trees onsite so their employees and members can easily participate.
Deadline for mall donations is Dec. 13. Participating malls include NorthPark Center, North East Mall, Collin Creek Mall, Grapevine Mills Mall, Galleria Dallas, Hulen Mall, Irving Mall, Ridgmar Mall, Valley View Center and Golden Triangle Mall. For information, visit http://www.uss.salvationarmy.org/
Toys for troops
Bring new, unwrapped toys or clothes to Watters Creek for "Operation Once in a Lifetime," to benefit military service members who need assistance providing a good Christmas for their kids. U.S. soldiers in uniform will collect the toys on Dec. 16.
In 2010, the program's first year, OOIAL raised more than $35,000 in toys and distributed them to more than 500 military families and more than 900 military children.
Salvation Army offers smartphone giving, Online Red Kettle
This holiday season, The Salvation Army will give people a new way to donate to its traditional red kettles at more than 400 locations across the DFW area. Through Christmas Eve, the red kettle stands will display two QR codes - one for a $5 donation and one for a $10 donation - that can be made by scanning the codes with a smartphone.
Also through Dec. 24, in a convenient way to make a community impact without leaving the comfort of home, anyone can raise donations for The Salvation Army by setting up their own Online Red Kettle at onlineredkettle.org.
Discover a healthier you: Breathe your way through a stress-free holiday
Join the Allen Public Library for a series of monthly programs where health- and fitness-related topics will be explored and taught by expert practitioners and instructors.
From noon to 1 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 6, sip on some chai tea while certified yoga teacher Amanda Lunn will discuss some yogic tools and techniques to reduce your stress this holiday season. No previous yoga experience is required.
It is free for adults. Registration requested; walk-ins welcome if space permits. Upcoming topics are: "Food Matters," Jan. 11; "Self-Defense," Feb. 7; "Sugar Blues?" March 7; and "Walking with Weights," April 4.
For information, contact Debbie Vavra at 214-509-4913 or Kara Phillips at 214-509-4905, or visit www.allenlibrary.org. The Allen Public Library is at 300 N. Allen Drive.
Holiday Hayride with Santa
Take a hayride with jolly ol' Saint Nick, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7. Through Bethany Lakes Park and decorated neighborhoods, the family will enjoy the lights and sing-alongs with Santa on this merry holiday hayride. Multiple rides are available.
Cost is $3 for children under 12, $4 for children over 12, and free for 2 years and under. Children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Pre-registration is required; visit www.cityofallen.org for information.
Free trolley rides, horse-drawn carriage rides
All aboard! Join us every Friday and Saturday in December and Dec. 17-22 for a magical trolley ride around Watters Creek while taking in the spectacular holiday lights. Rides are free and on a first-come, first-served basis, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., weather permitting.
And what could be more charming than a cozy horse-drawn carriage ride through streets adorned with twinkling holiday decorations on a crisp winter evening? Bring the family or that someone special for a horse-drawn carriage ride around Watters Creek, 970 Garden Park Drive.
Carriages hold up to six passengers and are on a first-come, first-serve basis. Pick up is across the street from DSW. Rides are available, weather permitting, between 6 and 9 p.m. Dec. 7, 8, 14, 15, and 17-22; check with the concierge at 972-747-8000.
Lovejoy Fine Arts Festival
From 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, your eyes, ears, and taste buds are in for a treat at the Lovejoy Fine Arts Festival. Homemade chili, refreshments and baked goodies will be available all day for a minimal purchase. In addition, there will be a "Santa Land" with children's art activities as well as an opportunity to visit with Santa Claus from 3 to 5 p.m.
The annual "Empty Bowl" project will also be taking place during the festival. High school students are creating amazing one-of-a-kind clay vessels to sell for charity. All proceeds will go to help the Samaritan Inn, a nonprofit organization that assists people in a homeless situation.
Admission to the festival is free, but visitors are asked to bring an unwrapped toy as a donation.
Lovejoy High School is located at 2350 Estates Parkway in Lucas. For information, visit lovejoyisd.net.
The Edge Holiday Bash
Ring in the holiday break with a bash! Come out to the skate park from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8, for a fun-filled day of skateboard, BMX and scooter competitions as well as dodgeball and video game tournaments.
For ages 8-25. The event is free. The Edge @ Allen Station Park is at 201 E. St. Mary. Call 214-509-4760 or visit AllenParks.org for information.
Tea with the Sugar Plum Fairy
The Allen Civic Ballet will hold its "Tea with the Sugar Plum Fairy" on Saturday, Dec. 8, at the Allen Conservatory of Dance, 602 East Main St., Suite E. The tea has three seatings: 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Guests are welcomed into the Snow Queen's Kingdom and served tea, lemonade and treats, while characters from the ballet visit each table. Mother Ginger tells the story of the "Nutcracker" with the help of the characters, after which guests may take pictures with the cast, or get autographs on anything from toe shoes to tea cups.
Reservations may be made at a cost of $15 per person. Visit www.allencivicballet.org for information.
'Christmas through the Decades' at historic Allen Christian Church
The Allen Heritage Guild is proud to present "Christmas through the Decades" from noon to 4 p.m. Dec. 8 at the beautifully restored historic Allen Christian Church, 450 E. St. Mary Drive.
Veteran actor and film star Bertram Gilliam will read the holiday classic, "Twas the Night before Christmas" by Clement Moore, beginning at 1:30 and 3 p.m. Star of Blazing Saddles and Back to the Future Part III, Gilliam's television credits include Charlie's Angels and The Dukes of Hazzard.
In addition, the Collin College String Ensemble will perform old-fashioned classic Christmas carols at 2 p.m.
At the historic church, visitors can also view the beautiful stained-glass windows that feature the names of Allen's early pioneers. Fresh gingerbread and apple cider will be offered and guests can view a 1930s-style tree with decorations and presents of the period, as well as a 1960s-style aluminum tree, complete with all the trimmings. There will also be a special exhibition of German Steinbach nutcrackers.
The Allen Heritage Village, 450 E. St. Mary Drive, is a partnership endeavor between the city of Allen Parks and Recreation and the Allen Heritage Guild. For information, visit www.allenheritageguild.org or contact Paula Ross at 972-740-8017.
Sidekicks kickoff to library
Meet some of the most popular soccer stars in Texas history - including Dallas Sidekicks head coach and soccer legend Tatu and superstar goalie Sagu - at the Allen Public Library, 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8. Participants will be treated to tales of their exciting soccer careers in the Metroplex, including the challenges they faced and their strategies for victory.
The program will be moderated by Robert Trammell, who has been a broadcaster for high school and college sports for more than 12 years. He is currently public relations director for the Dallas Sidekicks.
Sponsored by the Allen Public Library, the program is free. The Allen Public Library is at 300 N. Allen Drive.
'Z Rizdvom Khrystovym!'
Have a merry Ukrainian Christmas! The Allen Public Library and Friends of the Library present Ukrainian Christmas carols, dance and instrumentals featuring Veselka, a Ukrainian folk singing group of Dallas, and the dance ensemble, Zorya.
The event is from 7:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at the Allen Public Library Auditorium, 300 N. Allen Drive. Admission is free. Call 214-509-4911 or visit cityofallen.org.
Photos with The Big Guy
The Big Guy can once again be found inside the warmth and comfort of a Real Bookstore at The Village at Fairview. Visiting hours are: Dec. 6: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Dec. 7-8: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Dec. 9: 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Dec. 10-13: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Dec. 14-23: 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; and Dec. 24: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. "The Big Guy" takes a break from 3-4 p.m. daily.
Shoppers may reserve a spot in the "virtual line" via website, via text message, or in person at the photo set. Once people are in the queue, they are given a return time so they can do some shopping or grab a bite to eat while they wait to visit The Big Guy. Text "SANTA" to 775-200-XMAS (9627), visit www.thevillageshopping.com, or stop by a Real Bookstore at 113 Prairie Road to reserve a place in the virtual line.
Free photos with Santa at Watters Creek
Watters Creek offers free visits with Santa for families to come have the opportunity to take their own photos at no charge. Times are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 8, 15 and 19-24; and noon to 5 p.m. Dec. 23.
Santa's workshop is across from The Blue Fish and Paciugo at Watters Creek, 970 Garden Park Drive. For information, visit watterscreek.com.
Dino featuring Cheryl Kartsonakis - Sounds of the Season
Allen Event Center will welcome grand pianist, international television star and revered entertainer Dino Kartsonakis and his wife, Cheryl, for "Sounds of the Season," 8 p.m. Dec. 10, at the Allen Event Center.
Tickets for this special holiday engagement are available through Ticketmaster, charge by phone at 800-745-3000; or at Allen Event Center Box Office, 200 E. Stacy Road, #1350. Visit AllenEventCenter.com for information.
Holiday film classics continue Tuesday
Bring the family to the Allen Public Library's Civic Auditorium and take in a terrific seasonal classic at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11, with "The Bishop's Wife," starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young and David Niven.
In the 1948 film, a bishop strives to build a new cathedral prays for guidance. An angel (Cary Grant) arrives, but his guidance does not involve fundraising. A superb script that combines drama and comedy supported by the charm of three Hollywood legends inspire all of us to embrace what is most important: family and friends.
On Tuesday, Dec. 18, take in the 1951 classic, "A Christmas Carol." A bitter miser is given a chance for redemption when he is haunted by uninvited ghosts on Christmas Eve. This adaptation is thought to be one of the definitive films of the story, and Alastair Sims' performance as a man who is malevolent and later humorous is a holiday gift.
Admission to the screenings is free. For information, call Tom Keener 214-509-4911.
Unwrapping the history of Christmas in America
For many, Christmas means traditions like decking the halls, trimming the tree, hanging the stockings, and taking the kids to visit Santa Claus. But is Christmas sacred or secular? Pagan or Christian? A commercial event or a season of hope?
Dr. Penne Restad will discuss these cherished traditions and rituals at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 13, at the Allen Public Library. Restad is professor of history and distinguished lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin and author of the 1995 book, "Christmas in America: A History."
This free event is sponsored by the APL and the Friends of the Library. The Allen Public Library is at 300 N. Allen Drive. Call 214-509-4900 for information.
Winter reading clubs under way
Children and teens can stop by the library and pick up their reading logs now for the Allen Public Library's winter reading clubs.
Teens ages 12-18 who read three books before Jan. 13 will earn a free book and be entered into a prize drawing for $25 gift cards to Cinemark, GameStop or Starbucks.
Kids ages 0-11, come "Soar with Books!" Younger readers who read 10 picture books or easy readers - and older readers who read three or more chapter books or non-fiction books - will get a free book when they return their reading logs by Jan. 13.
The Allen Public Library is at 300 N. Allen Drive.
New test-prep tool available through APL
Studying for the SATs? GREs? GED? Or another standardized test? LearningExpress Library can help.
LearningExpress Library contains practice tests, exercises, skill-building courses, ebooks and more. Call 214-509-4905 for login/password. Visit cityofallen.org for information.
Weekly 6 a.m. social run
Gather at Luke's Locker every Thursday morning at 6 a.m. for a 45-minute social run. Out and back run, for all levels, bagels and coffee after at the store. Visit http://www.watterscreek.com/ for information.
Kaleidoscope of Dreams Light Show
Through Jan. 4 every night from 5-9 p.m., come see one of the largest holiday light shows in North Texas, with 250,000 sparking LED lights. The Village at Fairview, Macy's Fountain entrance.