Compiled by Michelle Colesanti,

Brandon Christian Writers Meet

Do you have a story to share but don’t know how to start? Would you like to get your feet wet in the sea of publishing? Come meet with a great mix of successful and aspiring writers who get together monthly to learn the ropes, find inspiration and enjoy networking. The Brandon Christian Writers meet the fourth Thursday of every month at St. Andrews Methodist Church, 3315 Bryan Rd. in Brandon in Room 305 of the Family Center. Further info and guidelines for manuscript critique can be found at

Chabad Jewish Discovery Center Holds Community Events To Celebrate Chanukah

The following events will be held by the Chabad Jewish Discovery Center to celebrate Chanukah.
A Chanukah Festival will take place at Winthrop Town Centre on Tuesday December 12 at 6 p.m. The Hillsborough County Fire Rescue’s selfless service to the community will be saluted, and a captain honored with kindling the center flame of the Menorah. A fire engine will be on hand for everyone to explore and learn more about our local heroes. There will be a Mega Gelt Drop as the firefighters drop over 1,000 chocolate gelt coins from the fire engine for everyone to enjoy. The event will also feature Face Painting, Tony the Balloon guy, Hot Latkes, Chanukah craft and more. It is free to attend.

Chanukah Klezmer Festival & Menorah Lighting at the Sun City Center Chamber of Commerce will feature The Freylach band. It will take place on Thursday, December 14 at 4:30 p.m. Admission is free. Enjoy NY deli style food for sale.

A Chanukah Chocolate Gelt Factory & Electric Menorah Wiring Workshop will take place on Sunday, December 17 at 11 a.m. at the Chabad Jewish Discovery Center, 1578 Bloomingdale Ave, in Valrico. The event is for families with children ages 3-13. The cost is $8 per child.

A Menorah Lighting at Park Square in Fishawk Ranch will occur in front of Cool Beans on Sunday, December 17 at 6 p.m. It will feature Kindling of giant Menorah, Chocolate gelt, Hot Latkes, Chanukah Music, Chanukah crafts and more. It is free of charge.

For more information on these events, visit or call 571-8100.

Holiday Luncheon For Brandon Christian Women’s Connection

The Brandon Christian Women’s Connection will celebrate Christmas at the December luncheon ‘Winter Wonderland’ on Monday December 11 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at Bell Shoals Bapist Church in the Special Event Center, located at 2102 Bell Shoals Rd. in Brandon. This is a nondenominational luncheon for all ladies with no membership required. This special luncheon with music, entertainment and a Christmas decorating demonstration is $15. First time guests pay $10 so bring a friend to enjoy the celebration.  Reservations are requested by Monday December 4. Please call Lillie at 740-0098.

Children’s Christmas Art Supports Farmworker Family Programs Post-Irma

Zayra Alvarez, a fourth-grader, didn’t simply draw a Christmas tree; she drew a pyramid of them, each laden with a different Florida crop.

That’s not surprising at RCMA, which serves the children of low-income families in farm communities across Florida. Low income” does not mean low creativity or low Christmas joy,and Zayra and other children proved that in this year’s RCMA Christmas card designs.

Their imaginations burst forth on Christmas cards that RCMA will sell from now until Friday, December 15. A catalog is available, and cards may be ordered there at $15 per box, plus shipping. To order an exclusive card with a customized greeting and/or logo, contact Sonia Tighe at or (321) 214-5245.

Proceeds help the nonprofit RCMA, based in Immokalee, operate child-care centers, charter schools and after-school programs in 21 Florida counties. In fact, each $15 sale of Christmas cards qualifies RCMA for $240 in matching funding from the state.
From our children’s view, Christmas in rural Florida has its own unique flavor and it’s contagious,” said Gayane Stepanian, RCMA’s executive director. “Life in rural Florida post-Irma is far from back to normal.  These children always need more help than most folks can imagine, especially now.”

Enjoy Hannukah Festivities And More At Congregation Beth Shalom

Enjoy Hanukkah Music with Cantor Greenblatt as she serenades everyone with beautiful melodies on Sunday, December 3 at 4 p.m.

Welcome the Sabbath on Friday evenings at 7:45 p.m. Oneg, nosh and mingle follows. On December 16 at 7 p.m., the Chanukah candles will be kindled as all together to celebrate the Festival of Lights, Consecration and Kabbalat HaSidddur. All are welcome.

Beyond I had a Little Dreidel – Join Cantor Tanya Greenblatt on Sunday, December 10 at 4 p.m. as she once again engages in holiday song. Bring your family and enjoy.

Bible and Bagels – On Saturday, December 16 at 10 a.m., join Rabbi Betsy Torop as she leads in a discussion of the Torah portions pertinent to the parsha. A light breakfast will be enjoyed by all. BYOB. All interested are welcome.

Congregation Beth Shalom is located at 706 Bryan Rd. in Brandon. Call for more information at 681-6547.

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Michelle has been with the Osprey Observer for almost nine years, and her current position is Assignment Editor. She resides in Bloomingdale with her husband Phil, two sons, Philip and Matthew, and Tigger the cat.