RELAY FOR LIFE LUMINARIA BAGS: Luminaria bags are being sold to be displayed at the American Cancer Society's Brooksville Relay for Life, which will be April 26 and 27 at Hernando High School.
Each luminaria is personalized with a name and message. The bags will be illuminated after dark during the Relay for Life to remember loved ones lost to cancer or to honor those battling the disease. Luminarias can also be dedicated in support of a relay participant.
Luminarias may be purchased through a donation on the website at relayforlife.org/brooksvillefl (click on the luminaria link). For information about the local relay, call (352) 796-8567. For information about the American Cancer Society, call toll-free 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.
PARTICIPATE IN BIRD COUNT: The Hernando Audubon Society will conduct its 33rd annual Christmas Bird Count on Saturday throughout the county. The count runs all day, but participants are free to join or leave as their schedules permit. Home feeder watchers are also needed.
Audubon scientists use information collected to determine bird population trends. The information has also been used in studies regarding climate change, disease transmissions and avian genetics.
Activities will end with a countdown dinner. Beginners are welcome.
For information or to be assigned to a team, call Clay Black at (352) 592-4949.
RELAY FOR LIFE GARAGE SALE: A huge garage sale fundraiser will begin at 8 a.m. today and Saturday at 25500 Lake Lindsey Road (1.6 miles east of U.S. 41), near Nobleton.
Proceeds will go to the American Cancer Society's Spring Hill Relay for Life. For information, call (352) 686-3600.
BREAKFAST WITH SANTA: The Hernando County Shrine Club will host a breakfast buffet with Santa from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday at the club, 13400 Montour St., off Sunshine Grove Road, west of Brooksville. The menu includes pancakes, sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, potatoes, sausage gravy and biscuits, orange juice, coffee and tea. Advance tickets cost $7 for adults, $5 for children ages 5 to 11 and free for ages 4 and younger. Tickets purchased at the door are an additional $1. For information, call Larry at (716) 207-7382 or Jerry at (352) 610-4124.
PLANT NURSERY TO CLOSE FOR THE HOLIDAYS: The Spring Hill Garden Club's plant nursery, at 1489 Parker Ave. in Spring Hill, will be open from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Monday and Dec. 22, then will be closed through the remainder of the year. The nursery will reopen Jan. 5.
The club is continuing its 50 percent-off sale through Dec. 22 at the nursery.
The adjacent Nature Coast Botanical Gardens are open daily from sunup to sundown. The gardens currently feature a display of 30 decorated Christmas trees. Visitors can vote for their favorites by making a donation; each dollar donated equals one vote. Dec. 24 is the last day to vote.
For information, call (352) 683-9933 or visit naturecoastgardens.com.
CHRISTMAS FEST: A Community Christmas Festival will be offered from 9 a.m. to noon Dec. 22 at First United Methodist Church, 9344 Spring Hill Drive, Spring Hill.
The event will include a pancake breakfast, eye exams, health screenings, face painting and games — all at no cost. Photos with Santa will be available for $1.
Reservations are required for the pancake breakfast. Call (352) 683-2600, ext. 0, or email to [email protected]
VETERINARIAN ASSISTANT COURSE OFFERED: The Florida International Teaching Zoo will offer a 14-week veterinary assistant certification lecture program from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays, starting Jan. 15, at the Villages Lifelong Learning Center at the Villages High School, 275 Buffalo Trail, the Villages.
Lecture topics include veterinary aspects of diseases, emergency situations, nutrition, taxonomy, internal and external parasites and client management skills.
Laboratory skill classes will cover bandaging and fecal parasite analysis.
Species covered include dogs and cats, zoo animals, horses and pet birds.
Tests will be given. Upon completion, students will receive certification as a veterinary assistant.
The cost for the program with full certification is $520. All fees are tax deductible and will benefit the teaching zoo's facility in Bushnell.
HOLIDAY BOWLING EVENT: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hernando County will host a holiday bowling event from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Spring Hill Lanes, 3447 Commercial Way, Spring Hill.
In addition to matched bowlers of "littles" with their "bigs," families are invited to participate.
ARC OPEN HOUSE: The Arc Nature Coast will host its annual holiday open house from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Thursday at the agency's education center at 6495 Mariner Blvd., Spring Hill.
There will be music and a special Christmas program presented by Arc members. A complimentary lunch will be provided.
For information, call (352) 592-5650, ext. 408.
Learn about HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: Pasco-Hernando Community College will continue its College Connection series, an introduction to local health and human services programs in Hernando County, with the following programs:
• Jan. 8 — "Community Health," presented by Ann-Gayl Ellis with Nature Coast Community Health/Hernando County Health Department.
• Jan. 15 — "Community Education," presented by John Winans with the Alzheimer's Family Organization.
• Jan. 29 — "Mental Health Support," presented by Darlene Linville with the National Alliance on Mental Illness/NAMI Hernando.
• Feb. 5 — "Children and Adolescents in Crisis Services," presented by Katie Williams with Pathways Counseling.
• Feb. 19 — "Medicaid and Food Stamps," presented by Robert Bradburn with Access Florida and the Florida Department of Children and Families.
• March 5 — "Mental Health Services," presented by Sandra Marrero with BayCare Behavioral Health.
• March 19 — "Social Services," presented by Tresa Watson of the Hernando County Community Anti-Drug Coalition.
• April 2 — "Social Services," presented by Veda Ramirez of the Hernando County Health and Human Services Department.
• April 16 — "Veterans Services," presented by Matt Peters, veterans services manager for Hernando County.
All programs begin at 3 p.m. and are conducted at the PHCC North Campus, 11415 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Brooksville. There is no cost to attend.
SHINE PROGRAM NEEDS VOLUNTEERS: Serving Health Insurance Needs of Florida, a statewide volunteer-based program of the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, needs volunteers in Hernando County.
Volunteers are trained to offer counseling and assistance to seniors regarding Medicare, Medicaid, long-term care planning, prescription drug assistance, supplemental insurance and Medicare fraud.
All training is provided free.
Those interested in becoming a SHINE volunteer are invited to an orientation from 1 to 3 p.m. Jan. 11 at Elder Options, 100 SW 75th St., Gainesville. Registration is required by Dec. 28.
A basic training program will be offered from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 13 to 15 at Elder Options. Meals are provided and mileage reimbursed.
Those who live more than 50 miles from Gainesville have an option of staying in a hotel and receiving full reimbursement during the training.
Six sessions of mentoring will be scheduled at the volunteer's convenience, held at a location where the volunteer lives.
For information or to request a SHINE volunteer application packet, call (352) 692-5264 or toll-free 1-800-963-5337.
MAMAS AND PAPAS TRIBUTE: Brookridge Entertainment will present Monday, Monday — A Tribute to the Mamas and Papas at 7 p.m. Jan. 10 at the Brookridge Clubhouse, 8150 Hampton St., Brookridge.
The Mamas and Papas were a California-based vocal group during the 1960s and '70s, known for hits such as California Dreamin', Dancing in the Street and Dream a Little Dream of Me.
Tickets cost $20. Call Vivian or Larry Schmidt at (352) 610-4901.