Top of the class

The H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards recognize great public school teachers, principals and districts, awarding more than $500,000 in cash prizes in amounts ranging from $1,000 to as much as $25,000 per teacher, with matching amounts to each winning teacher’s school.

Teachers can win awards in three categories:

Rising Star, Leadership, and Lifetime Achievement

Principals can win in two categories:

Elementary, and Secondary.

Nominations are being accepted through Dec. 19.

Nominated educators and districts will have until Jan. 11 to submit their completed applications. For details and nomination forms, visit online at www.heb.com or stop by any H-E-B store.

Santa Cop

It’s time for the second annual Red Oak Police Department Santa Cop Program.

The department is asking for the community’s help in matching the success of the 2006 Christmas year.

The goal is for underprivileged families’ children to receive toys from the department through this program with generous donations from the community. The plan is to seek donations from local businesses and provide these toys to children before Christmas Day, with the help of Santa Claus. Chaplain Jarod Douglas, who is with Red Oak First Baptist Church, has volunteered to provide a list of families with the agreement that Santa can provide toys to their children before Christmas Day.

A drop-off box for donations will be located in the front lobby of the Red Oak Police Department, 547 Methodist. The deadline for donations is Dec. 17. For more information call 972-617-7632.

Christmas in Heritage Park

The Ovilla Service League invites everyone to attend its second annual “Christmas in Heritage Park” with a tree lighting ceremony at 7 p.m., Dec. 1. One of the local church choirs will lead the singing of carols, while hot spiced tea is being served. A local pastor will lead prayers for the Christmas season and Mayor Hugley will say a few words about the annual tree lighting. Santa will also be on hand to take wish lists.

Christmas in Downtown Red Oak

Red Oak Parks and Recreation and Tourism Departments are hosting its second annual Christmas Downtown Red Oak beginning at 5 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 8. This year’s theme is “Old Fashion Christmas” and will begin with a parade followed by several family-like activities at downtown Main Street Plaza. Call 972-576-3414.

SPCA in need of donations

The Ellis County SPCA is in need of donations including cat litter, paper towels, bleach, dish soap, monetary donations, laundry soap, trash bags and others.

The SPCA, which is located at 2570 Farm-to-Market 878, Waxahachie, has taken in almost 3,000 animals so far this year.

Call 972-935-0756.

Veterans sought

J.L. Smith, Veterans of Foreign Wars District 3 commander, is seeking veterans of foreign wars that reside in Red Oak and are interested in helping form a VFW post in Red Oak. To form a new post, there must be 25 qualified veterans with completed applications and line officers for the post in order.

When naming the new post, organizers would also take suggestions for local soldiers killed while fighting in a foreign war. Anyone interested in helping form the post, suggesting a lost soldier to name the building after or able to donate money for the building should contact Smith at 972-617-6985 or 469-235-5347.

Oversight

committee

The Ellis County Bond Oversight Committee will meet at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 7 in the second floor courtroom of the Ellis County Courthouse. The committee reviews progress on the county’s facilities projects, including the courts and administration building and the jail addition. Call 972-825-5000.

Health and Information Fair

Red Oak ISD is holding a community-wide health and information fair Saturday, April 12, 2008, in conjunction with the Education Foundation’s Gerry Ann North Walk/5K for Education at Red Oak Elementary School. Tables are provided, but tabletop displays, handouts, freebies are recommended.

The school is located at 200 Valley Ridge Drive. For more information, contact counselor Cindy Dooly at 469-437-2537.

Citizen’s Police Academy

The Red Oak Police Department will sponsor a Citizen's Police Academy organized by Detective Maggie McBride.

Citizens of Red Oak or those who work in the city of Red Oak are eligible to attend. Those planning to attend must be over 21 years of age, posses a valid Texas drivers license and successfully complete a background investigation.

The Citizen’s Police Academy classes will cover subjects such as patrol operations, tactical operations, crime prevention, criminal investigation, firearm safety and more.

The classes will be in intervals of two-hour courses once a week for five weeks. Start date is to be announced. Those interested in applying for the Citizen’s Police Academy can download applications from the city of Red Oak Web site, www.redoaktx.org. Click on the “Departments” tab at the top of the screen, go to the police department link and the link for the police application will be listed under the Police Menu tab.

For more information regarding the Citizens Police Academy, contact Detective McBride at 972-617-7632 or email mmcbride@redoaktx.org.

Volunteers needed

Family First Hospice is calling for volunteers in the areas of Ovilla, Red Oak, DeSoto, Duncanville, South Dallas, Ferris, Ennis, Waxahachie, Midlothian, Venus, Kaufman, Corsicana, Blooming Grove and Cedar Hill.

Volunteers offer a variety of services including sitting with patients while a caregiver is out of the house or running errands for patients or caregivers. First Family Hospice needs men, women and teens that can speak English and Spanish.

For more information contact Margie Norum at 972-878-2273.

Red Oak 4-H

The Red Oak 4-H Club meets at 7 p.m. the first Thursday of every month at the First United Methodist Church of Red Oak.

Volunteers needed

The Red Oak Health and Rehabilitation Center is looking for volunteers to visit and provide services to the 145 residents. Volunteers may offer a variety of services, including: helping with nail care, delivering mail to residents, reading to residents, playing piano in the dining room, playing games, giving musical performance, sending birthday cards, helping with fundraisers, giving pet therapy visits, helping with decorating halls.

Potential volunteers should contact Dana Rodes, activity director, at 469-552-0500 or at drodes@scc-texas.com.

Clients needed for Assistance Dogs

The Assistance Dogs of Texas, a local, non-profit organization, is now accepting applications from people who could benefit from a service dog. Dogs are trained to complete various tasks such as alerting to sounds, assisting in balance, opening doors, retrieval of items such as canes, phones and other objects, etc. Financial assistance is available for those who qualify.

If you or anyone you know could benefit from a wonderful, helping companion, please call Cindy Roberts at 972-617-3136 or e-mail bcrockett1@worldnet.att.net.

Free informational sessions

Training Academy for Dental Assistants LLC in Ferris will hold free informational sessions at 5:30 p.m. the first and third Tuesdays of every month. Call 972-842-2999.

Free testing

The Women’s Resource Center of Waxahachie offers free pregnancy tests on a regular basis. No appointment is necessary.

Operating hours for the center are Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and Wednesday from 4-7 p.m. The center is located at 1204 Ferris Ave., No. E, Waxahachie. For more information, call 972-938-7900.

55 Plus Alive Group

The 55 Plus Alive Group of the Greater New Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church is continuing and is organizing an independent Community 55 Plus Alive Group. The group will meet at 500 Wyatt St., each first and third Thursday at 10 a.m.

There will be field trips and different activities that people can organize and participate in.

For more information, call Johnnie B. Miller, president, at 972-937-4975 or Minnie B. Grisby, secretary, at 972-937-8345.

Hospice volunteers needed

Training provided for caring volunteers throughout northern Ellis County and the southern Metroplex area who want to assist in providing support to families affected by life-limiting illness. Contact Angela D. Chatham at 214-938-6941 or 214-343-7900.

DeSoto Art League

The DeSoto Art League meets at 7 p.m. the last Thursday September through May at DeSoto Presbyterian Church at 212 W. Pleasant Run Road in DeSoto.

For more information, contact Connie Tilden at 972-576-8190.

Volunteers needed

The Gingerbread House children’s advocacy center is seeking volunteers to serve as family greeters for the center. The family greeter volunteer will assist the center’s forensic interviewer in greeting each family. Each volunteer must complete a required volunteer application and background check. For additional information and questions, contact 972-937-1870.

For rent

The Ellis County Woman’s Building, located at 407 W. Jefferson, is available to rent for weddings, meetings, family reunions, etc. For more information or to make a reservation, call 972-937-6845.

Mothers’ milk bank

Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas has opened its fifth Metroplex location for donating milk at Outreach Health Services, 110 Amanda Lane, Waxahachie.

“There is a growing need for healthy breast-feeding women who want to share their excess milk,” a spokesman said. “This is due to the demand from hospitals and fragile infants for donor human milk.”

Donors undergo a screening process before donating the milk, which is pasteurized and stored in the Fort Worth milk bank. The milk is used in the care of premature and seriously ill babies across North Texas.

For more information, contact Amy Vickers at Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas at 817-810-0071 or Paula Livingston at Outreach Health Services at 972-937-4777.

Cherokee information

The sovereign Cherokee Nation Tejas is seeking Native American people and others with Native American ancestors. Anyone who is interested in joining is asked to contact the administrative office, 105 Mount Vernon St., Mabank. The mailing address is P.O. Box 5266, Mabank, TX 75147; the telephone is 903-887-9500. Business hours are from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

NAMI support group to meet

The NAMI Ellis County peer support group meets every Friday at 2 p.m. at Adapt in Waxahachie. Call 972-937-3762 for more information.

Radio club meeting

The Ellis County Amateur Radio Club meets the third Thursday of each month at the Waxahachie Fire Department training room, 407 Water St., at 7:30 p.m. This meeting is open to the public. Anyone wanting additional information about the club and amateur radio licensing is welcome to attend.

Shot clinic

Childhood and adult immunizations continue to be offered by the Texas Department of State Health Services. Come by the clinic at 3001 S. Washington (U.S. Highway 34) in Kaufman or call 972-932-2038 for the location of a nearby clinic. Services provided on a sliding scale. The office is bilingual.

Art association meeting

The Ellis County Art Association general meeting is at 6:30 p.m. the first Monday of every month at the Ellis County Fine Arts Museum, 501 W. Main St., Waxahachie. Visitors are welcome.

Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit Christian-based organization that has completed several homes in the Ellis County community for people who otherwise would not be able to afford a home of their own. Habitat for Humanity works every Saturday throughout the year (lunch is provided), and new volunteers are always welcome. For more information on contributing to Habitat for Humanity of Ellis County, visit the Web site at www.ellishabitat.org or call the local office at 972-937-2797.

Medical power of attorney forms

Blank forms and instructions for their completion for medical power of attorney for out of hospital DNR (do not resuscitate) are available at no cost at Pleasant Manor Health and Rehabilitation Center, 3650 S. Interstate 35E.

“Help your family by completing the forms and providing a copy to your physician,” a spokesman said. “Help your family to know your health care and end of life wishes by putting them in writing.”

Bridge group

Duplicate bridge is played every Monday at 7 p.m. in the gathering room of the Waxahachie First United Methodist Church and is open to all who want to play bridge. This is ACBL-sanctioned and is sponsored by the Covenant Sunday School class.

For more information, call 972-937-5896.

Bible study

The Women’s Ministries of University Assembly of God Church will hold a Bible study at 10 a.m. every Thursday morning and again at 7 p.m. on Thursday evenings at the Church’s Berean Room.

The church is located at 221 Solon Road in Waxahachie and all women are encouraged to come and be a part of this study.

The topic of study is prayer and the book is called “Becoming a Woman of Prayer” by Cynthia Heald.

For more information contact the church office at 972-937-7810.

Parents Shopping Night Out

First Baptist Ovilla is providing safe childcare from 5-10 p.m., on Dec. 1, 8, and 15. Dinner and entertainment will be offered for children while parents get their shopping done. The cost is $20 for one child and $15 for each additional child. For more information call 972-617-5717 or e-mail sean@fbovilla.org.