Presbyterian Church Announces Christmas Services The Presbyterian Church of Bloomingdale, located at 710 E. Bloomingdale Ave., has scheduled the following services for the Christmas season: Sunday, December 7 – Advent week two; Sunday, December 14 – Advent week three; Sunday, December 21 – Advent week four; Reverend John Wintringham will preach and the service will include a special Call to Worship with family music, readings, candles, Christmas decorations and poinsettias for the Advent season. Don’t miss the Christmas Cantata on Sunday, December 21, at 10:30 a.m. The Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, with communion, is at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, December 24. Merry Christmas to all. Call 654-3699 for any questions or details.

St. Andrew’s Upcoming Events St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church, located at 3315 Bryan Rd. in Brandon, will be unveiling these events within the upcoming months as follows: On Wednesday, December 3, and Friday, December 5, the St. Andrew’s UMC theater group is pleased to present the warm hearted production Tis the Season. This funny and heart-warming show is about a local group of people trying to put together a live nativity, and the hilarious antics as the live animals get loose and the police have to step in. Both shows will take place in the sanctuary at 7 p.m. For further information, contact Brenda Gibbs at On Sunday, December 7, during the 9:50 a.m. Contemporary Service, there will be a Christmas Celebration. Come and experience a morning of glorious praise and worship Christmas favorites with the Praise Team, choir and orchestra. Finally, on Wednesday, December 10, please join members for A Celebration of Lessons & Carols. Dinner will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Family Life Center, followed by a special evening of Lessons & Carols in the sanctuary at 7 p.m. The St. Andrew’s UMC chancel and hand bell choirs will be featured, plus readings and congregational singing of favorite Christmas carols. The dinner price for adults is $6, children is $4, 3 and under is free. The carols at 7 p.m. are free as well. Finally on Wednesday, December 24, St. Andrew’s hosts its Christmas Eve celebration O’ Holy Night. There will be a family service at 4:30 p.m., a contemporary service at 6:30 p.m. and traditional services at 8:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. These services will speak on the meaning of Christmas and the true source of hope in this world. All events are free and open to the public. For dinner reservations or more information, please call the church at 689-6849. Residents can also visit

FBC Presents Christmas by Candlelight The music ministries of First Baptist Church of Brandon and Tampa Baptist Church are joining together to present Christmas by Candlelight. On Saturday and Sunday, December 6-7, at 6 p.m., the service will be held at First Baptist Church of Brandon located at 216 N. Parsons Ave. in Brandon. This powerful and upbeat celebration of the birth of Jesus, featuring a cast and crew of over 200, is under the direction of David Shenning and Randy Barton (choir), Kevin Lewis (orchestra) and Becky Lawrence (drama). Everyone is invited. There is no charge for admission. Doors open one hour before the program begins. For more information, call 689-1204. Meditation Held in Brandon Residents are welcome to a Buddhist meditation evening in Brandon with American Buddhist teacher, Dr. Anika Trancik. The class, entitled Resisting the Urge to Retaliate, will present an introduction to meditation from the Kadampa Buddhist tradition and includes two guided meditations and a short talk, suitable for beginners. Everyone is welcome. It will be held at Unity in Brandon located at 115 Margaret St. on Thursday, December 11, from 7:05-8:30 p.m. A donation of $9 or $5 for students or those with limited income is welcome. For more information, call 727-797-9770 or visit

Apostles Lutheran Holds Festival The Apostles Lutheran Church invites residents to experience the pageantry and merriment, wonderful food, music theater and the wonder of the nativity, all woven together throughout the performance to celebrate the coming of Jesus, the Light of the World, at the Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival. The dates of the festival are December 4, 5, 6, 7 at the Apostles Lutheran Church located at 200 Kingsway Rd. in Brandon. Admission is free with performance times being 8 p.m. for the evening performances on December 4, 5 and 6. For Sunday’s December 7 matinee, performance begins at 3 p.m. For more information, contact or call 689-2571. Craft and Bake Sale Announced Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church, located at 604 N. Valrico Rd. in Valrico, will host its First Annual Christmas Whistle Stop Craft Show and Bake Sale on Saturday, December 6, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., featuring homemade crafts, baked goods, jewelry, quilts, candles, etc. It will highlight local vendors, a silent auction and entertainment. For more information, call 689-3130 or visit

Women of Destiny Welcome Onething Prayer Center, located at 777 W. Lumsden Rd. in the Oak Park Plaza in Brandon, will be hosting Women of Destiny, a program for prospective Christian leaders, speakers and writers which will be held on the third Monday of each month at 7 p.m. This practical application workshop will provide opportunities for women to learn the skills needed to pursue their destiny. A $10 registration fee is required and there will be a total of nine monthly workshops with a fee of $10 per class. Each class will include live call-ins from the National Leadership Team of Proverbs 31 Ministries. All materials are included, and participants receive a certificate upon completion of the course. You can register and view the 2008-2009 workshop curriculums by going to and clicking on “Ministries.” If you have specific questions, contact Ann Marie Peterson at 500-9411.

C.A.I. Announcements Concerned Action, IncHRIST will hold Orientation on thought-action process, repressed anger, grace, forgiveness and choosing a happier life the first and third Monday of each month, from 7-9:30 p.m., December 1 and 15, at C.A.I.’s office, located at 3813 Ravenna Dr. in Valrico and the third Friday of each month from 12:30-4 p.m., December 19, at Lighthouse Gospel Mission, 7211 S. 78th St. – Riverview. Canoeing, Rope Swings and Family Fun will take place on Saturday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on December 20 and 21. Sunday Services are from 3:30-4:15 p.m., December 28, at one of four assisted living facilities in Brandon. At the I Am HOPE Café a free hot meal, help and referral assistance to the homeless, needy singles and families in our community will be provided every Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 6-7 p.m. at Mango Baptist Church and every Saturday from 9-10 a.m. at two locations: Mango Baptist, located at 11619 E. MLK Blvd. and Brandon Church of the Nazarene, located at 114 N. Kingsway Ave. The Share and Prayer Group’s Journey through the Bible is covering one book of the Bible at a time at the groups pace every Tuesday from 7-9 p.m. at CAI’s Office. Santa’s Surprise will be on December 13: All donated toys, money, food and serviceable clothes go to invited needy families conscientiously working on the roots to past burdens and back to self-sufficiency. Call 689-9552 for directions, more information or to make a donation to Santa’s Surprise.

PlayMania to Honor Gymboree Memberships As reported this week, Gymborees in Hillsborough County abruptly closed after the franchise owner filed for bankruptcy. Whitney and Todd Brundage, owners of PlayMania, Inc. recognize that this is an unfortunate event at a time when many parents cannot afford to purchase another membership. PlayMania will be honoring Gymboree memberships with any purchase of equal or lesser value. PlayMania will also be honoring any deposit given on a Gymboree Birthday Party. Located in Riverview on the corner of Big Bend Rd. and U.S. Hwy. 301, PlayMania is an indoor play center for children up to age 6. Featuring open play, classes and birthday parties, PlayMania is becoming widely recognized in the Riverview area. For more information, please call 649-8919 or visit

KCC Collects Candy for Troops In honor of Veteran’s Day, Kid’s Community College FishHawk collected candy to be sent to military men and women. The children of KCC decorated brown paper bags and enclosed a special thank you for protecting our country. Eighty goodie bags of donated candy were sent to Operation Shoebox, which is a non-profit organization that sends care package to our overseas military. To learn more about KCC, visit

Bulls Seek Sponsors Please join Bloomingdale Head Baseball Coach Kris Wilken and the Bulls baseball team as they raise funds for the upcoming 2009 baseball season with their 13th Annual Golf Tournament. This event has supported the team for the last 12 years. It is seeking corporate sponsors and partners for this event. Tournament will take place Monday, December 22, at 12:30 p.m., with registration at 11 a.m., at the River Hills Country Club located at 3943 New River Hills Pkwy. in Valrico. The entry fee is $100 for Four Man Scramble and includes green and cart fees, awards, dinner and more. The registration deadline is December 15. For more information, call Brenda Acquaviva at 643-5833.

Lacrosse Registration Begins The Hillsborough United Lacrosse Club, formerly the Bloomingdale Lacrosse Club, will be having open registrations for U13 and U18 age groups. The U13- middle school registration fee is $125 and the U18- high school registration fee is $200. Beginners and experienced players are welcome. Registration will be held at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s located at 4330 Bell Shoals Rd. in Valrico, with registration dates of Monday-Wednesday, December 1-3, from 6-8 p.m. Please e-mail questions to Coach DePinto at

Cub Scouts Keep Active in Community Cub Scout Pack 632 of FishHawk Fellowship Church doubled its size in September, adding 48 new recruits to its ranks. It is apparent that these new recruits are serious about Scouting, as 25 boys were promoted to the rank of Bobcat this month. Pack 632 also participated in a book drive this past October, providing 1,040 books for a new library started at the Head Start Center in Balm, which is part of the Redlands Christian Migrant Association. Two Newsome High School students, Tommy Lair and Niall Brown, approached the pack about doing a book drive for migrant workers in the community. While Lair and Niall were volunteering their time tutoring migrant adults and children, they learned that these families did not have a library and decided this was something they wanted do for those less fortunate. Many of the books donated by the pack came from the Scouts’ own personal collections, with Webelos Scout Zachary Fobert donating the most at 150. It’s still not too late to join the pack. Call Cubmaster Rich Young at 413-6973 or email

Come Eat Breakfast with Santa Enjoy breakfast – pancakes, sausage and a beverage – with Santa on Saturday, December 6, from 8-10:30 a.m. at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s FishHawk location at 16773 FishHawk Blvd. in Lithia. Children are welcome to come and have their photo taken with Santa for an additional fee. The cost is $5 per adult and $2.50 for children under age 12, in advance, while at the door the cost is $6 per adult and $3 for those under 12. All proceeds will be donated to the Newsome High School Marching Band. Come listen to the Newsome Jazz Band perform while taking part in a 50/50 and themed basket raffles. Attendees are encouraged to drop off unwrapped toys, nonperishable food or gift cards for Newsome band’s charitable endeavor of adopting needy families in the community to give them a memorable Christmas. For more information, email or call 695-0677 to purchase tickets.

Julestarz Kicks Off Outback Bowl Game Members of the Julestarz Academy for the Performing Arts Company dance team in FishHawk Ranch have been selected to perform in the pre-game and half-time shows during the 2009 Outback Bowl Game in Tampa on January 1. Julestarz Company members will join other members of the Just for Kix National Dance Team from around the country which will include several hours of practicing, visiting local attractions and competing in the Just for Kix National Dance Team Competition. Last year, the Julestarz dancers performed in the Orange Bowl half-time show in Miami. The company members also perform at a variety of local events and festivals throughout the Tampa Bay area. Julestarz, located at 16132 Churchview Dr., Ste. 202, in Lithia, offers classes in dance, musical theatre, Kwan Fu and private music lessons. For more information on Julestarz, please visit or call 661-9037. Trade Your Pokemon The Brandon area Pokemon Trading Card Game League welcomes players to its free weekly league, meeting at the Bloomingdale Library at 1906 Bloomingdale Ave. in Valrico. Please check for additional league dates at, under organized play and leagues. For additional information, please contact Teri Smith at or 436-0206.

LLT Thanks Locals for Donations LLT Academy, a charter school located at 6771 Madison Ave. in Tampa, would like to thank the following businesses for their donations to the school’s Learn to Earn Store: Caspers (McDonalds), Wendy’s (Bloomingdale), Dunkin Donuts (301, Riverview), Learning Express (Valrico), Albertsons (Valrico), Winn Dixie (Valrico), Chili’s (Lithia), Red Lobster and Olive Garden (both Brandon). It also thanks its very supportive parents for their donations as well. Based on behavior, children at the school have play money deposited in their account and at the end of each nine week grading period, each student with a positive balance in their “account” gets to go the Learn to Earn Store at the school. Here they purchase merchandise or gift cards with the “money” they earned. As a school, there is a need for help from the surrounding community with donations of gift cards or merchandise to “stock” this store. As a charter school, it has families that come from Plant City to Pinellas and Apollo Beach to Land O’Lakes. The school appreciates anything area businesses can give to help its students. All gifts are tax deductible. If you are interested in helping LLT for its December Learn to Earn Store, or have any questions, call 234-0940. To learn more, visit

Cadets Honor Veterans In November, Newsome JROTC cadets took a small trip to Randall Middle School to perform for the veterans who are teachers. Cadets from each of the JROTC teams showed off their team skills in front of the whole school. Teams that performed included the Exhibition Team, the Rifle Team, the Color Guard and the Raider Physical Challenge Team. There was a special individual drill performance done by cadet Robert Salka. Each year, for the past two years, the Newsome JROTC Wolf Battalion conducts the fundraiser Operation Patriot, bringing toiletries such as soap, shampoo, toothbrushes and other hygiene items to give to the incapacitated veterans at the B. Lopez State Veteran’s Nursing Home. This year, the cadets brought in 798 toiletry items to donate to the veterans. Operation Patriot is meant to show the veterans the cadets’ appreciation for their service to this country. Operation Patriot not only benefits the veterans, but the company that brings in the most items receives points that counts towards the Best Company at the annual Field Day.

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Marie is the Managing Editor at the Osprey Observer. She covers news, transportation, education and likes to make a positive impact on the community and be 'in the know'!