Holiday Planning

The Boys' & Girls' Homes and Community Services provides homes for abused and neglected children ages 4 to 21. During the holiday season, the organization requests donations of gifts for children, nonperishable food items, new household supplies such as towels and sheets and gift wrapping paper. Volunteers are needed to sort gifts and sponsor recreational outings for resident children. Call Kathryn Ottman, 301-587-9750. Donations may be dropped off at Boys' & Girls' Homes Community Services, 700 Roeder Road in Silver Spring.

Proceeds from the Helping Hands Craft Sale on December 4 and 5 at the Washington Ethical Society, 7750 16th St. NW, support local and national charities that help the homeless make the transition to self-sufficiency. The sale features handcrafted jewelry, quilts, clothing, glass, ceramics, toys, woodwork and ornaments. Hours are Saturday, Dec. 4, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 5 from noon to 4 p.m. Admission to the sale is $5. There's also a gala champagne reception on Friday, Dec. 3, from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $25. Call 202-882-6650 or visit:

An Alternative Gift Market will be held Saturday, Dec. 4, from noon to 4 p.m. at Takoma Park Presbyterian Church, Maple and Tulip streets, two blocks from the Takoma Metro stop. The gift market features local and international nonprofit organizations that accept donations on behalf of a donor's family or friends. A calligrapher will inscribe an acknowledgment card. Call 301-891-3683 or visit:

The annual Messiah sing-along with the Metropolitan Chorus will be held at First Presbyterian Church, 601 N. Vermont St. in Arlington on Saturday, Dec. 11 at 5 p.m. Admission is free and nonperishable food and gift donations will be accepted for the Arlington Street People's Assistance Network. Call 703-527-4766.

The District of Columbia Jewish Community Center (DCJCC) needs volunteers on Friday, Dec. 24 to work at soup kitchens, hospitals, shelters and other community centers. All are welcome, including entertainers and photographers. Drop off donations of winter clothing, canned or packaged food, toys, household items, toiletries and gift wrap at the DCJCC, 16th and Q streets NW from Dec. 19 to 24. Call 202-518-9400, ext. 300 or e-mail: or visit:

Summer Camp

Children's International Summer Villages will be holding orientation meetings during December and January for summer camps and foreign home-stay programs for young people ages 11 to 18. Meetings for parents will be held: Dec. 4, from 3 to 5 p.m. at Cleveland Park Library and from 2 to 4 p.m. at Arlington Central Library; Dec. 5, from 3 to 5 p.m. at Reston Regional Library; Dec. 11 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Patrick Henry Library in Vienna and Silver Spring Library and Jan. 8 from 1 to 3 p.m. at New Carrollton Library. Other meetings are scheduled in January. Founded in 1950, the organization sponsors international friendships for children in 60 countries. For more information, visit: call 301-424-2478 or e-mail:

Professional Women

The Virginia Association of Female Executives meets Tuesday, Nov. 30 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the McLean Hilton in Tyson's Corner. The event features presentations by representatives from The Women's Center, The Arlington Community Temporary Shelter and other charitable organizations seeking volunteers. Call 703-476-0089.

Suited for Change collects and distributes professional clothing for low-income women who have finished job training programs. While the group currently has a sufficient stock of clean suits, jackets, blouses and dresses, they have an urgent need for new pantyhose in the package, costume jewelry, purses and briefcases. Drop off items from 9 a.m. to noon on Dec. 11 at 1712 I St. NW. Tax receipt provided. Call 202-293-0351, ext. 3.

Sports Focus

DC Babe Ruth city-wide baseball league seeks used equipment in good condition such as uniforms, gloves, bats, helmets and balls. Volunteer coaches are also invited to sign up. Call Pat Bitondo at 202-337-2843.

Court Companions

The Abused Persons Program of Montgomery County's Dept. of Health and Human Services is accepting applications through Dec. 15 for volunteers to assist victims of domestic violence. Court companions accompany clients to court proceedings or work as victim assistants offering information and helping with safety planning. The time commitment ranges from one day a month to three on-call duties per month. Volunteers are required to attend a 40-hour training course in Rockville and make a one-year commitment. Call 240-777-4210.

This Weekend

The C & O Canal Association sponsors a free hike along the towpath Sunday, Nov. 28 starting at 10:30 a.m. at White's Ferry, west of Poolesville, Md. For information, call Pat White, 301-977-5628.