Second-grade classes from Grand Avenue and Audubon Park Elementary Schools recently met up with their Skype buddies to watch “A Nutty Nutcracker Christmas” at the Orlando Repertory Theatre. The students have been communicating with each other about books and reading since the beginning of the semester. The idea for both classes to Skype together and the field trip was arranged by Hope Bitzer, a Rollins College senior education major, who interned in both second-grade classes.
Winter Park Towers, a non-profit active living community, boasts a thriving community garden planned, planted and tended to by residents. One of the gardeners' favorite aspects of the garden is creating these beautiful "living" ice sculptures during the few and far between Central Florida freezes.
Jewish Family Services wrapped up another holiday season with the hugely successful “Get Caught Caring” campaign. Toy collections from businesses, organizations and individuals throughout the community brought in mountains of toys for children in need. Nearly 700 toys were distributed to families this year. In addition, $7,000 in contributions was allocated to provide food for hungry families for their holiday meals.
Jewish Family Services’ youth volunteers and their parents brought a party to the Children’s Home Society of Florida during this holiday season. The visit was part of JFS’ annual JFS Kinder-to-Kinder program, which gives youth an opportunity to give back to other children in the spirit of volunteerism. To become a volunteer, or for more information about JFS, please call 407-644-7593 or visit jfsorlando.org
Orange County Property Appraiser Bill Donegan would like homeowners to be aware that now is the time to file for a homestead exemption. “If you bought and occupied a home prior to January 1, 2012, you may be eligible for a significant tax savings; an average of $742 annually for most homeowners,” Donegan said. The Property Appraiser’s website has a simple and quick feature that allows residents to file online. Visit www.ocpafl.org
Fifty-five students at Edgewater High School will have the opportunity to learn and apply STEM skills beyond the classroom through an Innovation Generation grant from the Motorola Solutions Foundation. Edgewater High School students enrolled in a computer animation and robotics course will work in teams to build Lego Mindstorm Robots that will complete advanced tasks while incorporating sounds and expressions.
Junior Mitchell Tomlinson of Maitland has been named to the 2011 fall semester Dean's List at West Virginia Wesleyan.
The following area residents have been named to the Dean's List at Providence College for the Fall 2011 semester:
Kelly Branham of Winter Park
Chandler McCabe of Winter Park
United Arts Artfest
United Arts kicks off its annual fundraising campaign with ArtsFest, happening Feb. 1-29. All ArtsFest events are free and open to the public, although some offerings have limited seating and capacity, which are referred to as “Tickets Are Limited” events. Created to manage these Tickets Are Limited events, the new ArtsFest Ticket Lottery allows you to enter at your convenience over a two-week period. To make reservations for Tickets Are Limited events, visit ArtsFestFL.com anytime between Jan. 10-21 and click on the Ticket Lottery button on the homepage.
Volunteer for Literacy
The Foundation for Orange County Public Schools is asking the community to consider volunteering, for one hour a week during the school year, to improve literacy in children though the Read2Succeed program. Go to www.foundationforocps.org to register as a mentor today.
Help build wheelchair ramps
The Center for Independent Living (CIL) is in need of donations and volunteers for RAMPAGE, an annual, one-day event on Feb. 25, where volunteers will build wheelchair ramps. To donate, or for more information, please contact Lindsey Koeneman at 407-623-1070 x 127 or LKoeneman@cilorlando.org
Dr. William Steele, the local dermatologist who won the $198 million Powerball jackpot in 2009, won the largest raffle prize at the Shepherd’s Hope Famous Faces Masquerade Ball in October. He donated the entire $10,000 back to Sheperd’s Hope, bringing the family’s total 2011 donation to them to $150,000.
Winston James Developer reports it recently closed on two lease agreements at Aloma Business Center, which was developed by Winston-James Development, LLC, and located on Aloma Avenue in Winter Park.
CommerCenters, LLC, which has developed flex warehouse distribution centers, is shifting its focus to private equity funds and investments. George Livingston, a principal, said they will invest in rental apartment properties driven by work force and population growth, senior housing and assisted living facilities, and new medical facilities, especially those that are age-related.
Cuhaci & Peterson Architects, Engineers & Planners LLC, based in Orlando’s Baldwin Park, recently appointed Bill Steward senior electrical designer.
For the sixth time in the past seven years (2005-2011) Fannie Hillman + Associates has been named the “Best Residential Real Estate Office” in Central Florida for 2011 by the readers of the Orlando Business Journal.
RBC Bank delivered 2,400 pounds of food this holiday season, and more than 350 toys to those less fortunate in the Central Florida community, thanks to the generosity of local residents, employees, the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and XL 106.7.
This holiday season, more than two dozen RLF employees gave back to the community by participating in Herman Miller’s “We Care” program, which is a nationwide holiday gathering supporting children in the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. RLF staffers embraced the spirit of giving with more than 150 children by helping create gift holiday key chains. The Winter Park-based architectural, engineering and interior design firm donated all the craft materials and raised nearly $800, which will help send several local Boys & Girls Club children to a well-known leadership conference.