*The city of Fairfax has begun leaf collection that will continue through Dec. 31. To ensure that all sections of the city receive equal treatment, a leaf collection crew has been assigned to work one of four sections exclusively during the operation.

Crews will be collecting leaves approximately once a week, except for neighborhoods with a heavy leaf fall, where a fifth crew will assist in completing pickup every two weeks. All crews work Saturdays.

Residents are reminded to rake leaves to the curb for pickup, making sure that only leaves are collected. Shrubbery, stones and yard debris will ruin machinery and delay service. For further information, call Diane Cabe at 385-7855.

*The Springfield Art Guild is the sponsor of a holiday bazaar of gifts and decorations to benefit the Rhea Locke Memorial Scholarship for high school art students. It will be held at the Guild gallery, known as The Art Center, 7058 Spring Garden Dr. in Brookfield Plaza, Springfield from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Nov. 30, from 1 to 5 p.m. on Dec. 1 and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 2. For more information, call The Art Center at 451-7287.

*The Northwest Center for Community Mental Health will present a lecture on stepparenting on Dec. 3 from 8 to 9:30 p.m. The lecture will discuss the common problems of blended families, including divided family loyalties, conflicts over discipline, sibling rivalry, ex-spouses and methods to better the relationship between stepparent and stepchild. The importance of having a strong marital relationship will be stressed in achieving successful stepparenting. The featured speaker will be Mary Hudson, a clinical social worker in private practice.

The Northwest Center is located at 11420 Isaac Newton Sq., Reston, and the lecture will be held in the conference room. A $3 fee will be requested from each person, but no one will be turned away due to an inability to pay. For further information or directions, call 471-6030.

*An essay contest is being sponsored by the Vienna Optimists Club on the topic, "Freedom, Our Most Precious Heritage." The contest is open to high school sophomores, juniors and seniors. The local club will select a first, second and third place winner, and the first place local winner will be entered in the district competition, where it will be judged against other club winning entries from the Capital-Virginia district. The prize for the winner of the district contest is an all-expense-paid four-day trip to the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge for a seminar on freedom and patriotism.

Entries must be original, completed by the contestants without assistance, and submitted by Dec. 15. For more information, call Vienna club chairman Dave Eaton at 938-8823, or write him at 2069 Kedge Dr., Vienna, Va. 22180.