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The Hernando County Sheriff's Office recently received some help with its annual toy collection from some residents of Timber Pines.

Homeowners in the Estates of the Grand Pines started their own toy drive five years ago, and each year make sure the sheriff's Community Oriented Police and Problem Solving unit has the toys in time to wrap and distribute them to children for Christmas.

More than 60 toys were presented to Sheriff Richard Nugent on Dec. 10.

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The First Hernando Republican Club celebrated the holiday season with its annual Christmas dinner Dec. 9 at the Spring Hill Community Center.

Club president Anna Liisa Covell opened the night's festivities by introducing the elected officials in attendance: Alvin Mazourek, county property appraiser; Karen Nicolai, clerk of court, and Sandra Nicholson, School Board chairwoman.

After the Pledge of Allegiance, Covell introduced Scott Simmons, who welcomed the Springstead High School chorus. The chorus entertained club members before dinner with Christmas carols.

Central High School's culinary arts students catered the meal, which included chicken cordon bleu, garlic mashed potatoes, green beans almandine and sponge cake.

While dessert was being served, club treasurer Tony Covell assisted with the drawings for auction items and door prizes.

As the festivities concluded, president Covell asked the students from Central to take a bow, and club members gave them a rousing round of applause.

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Representatives of the Kiwanis Club of Spring Hill visited Deltona Elementary School recently to present awards to students who brought up their grades. BUG, or Bring Up Grades, is a program that the local Kiwanis clubs sponsor at all of the local elementary schools.

Kiwanis Club of Spring Hill's BUG program chairman, Rich Boothby, and president Ken Kral, along with new club member Monica Anderson, passed out certificates of achievement, pencils and one-day passes to Weeki Wachee Springs to each student who brought up at least one grade from the last marking period.

Between 250 and 300 students from kindergarten to sixth grade gathered for class pictures before receiving their awards. The class photos were taken with Weeki Wachee Springs mermaid Amy Fobell.

Residents of the Estates of the Grand Pines in Timber Pines donated toys for the annual collection at the Sheriff's Office. Standing, from left, are Vic Hale, Tom Burns, Bill Lobosco, Sheriff Richard Nugent and Vinnie DeMatteo.

Deltona Elementary School students in Susan Roth's fourth-grade class gathered to be honored for their participation in the Kiwanis Club of Spring Hill's BUG (Bring Up Grades) program. The students sat with Weeki Wachee Springs mermaid Amy Fobell, center. Seated in back, from left, are: Myrissa Kenney, Samantha Petrovich, Krista Jones, Fobell, Corrie Dutton, Amber Bauer and Nathan Harvey. Kneeling in front, from left, are: Joey Siegfried, Michael Killory, Zack Trezise and Johnathan Billips. Students in Roth's class who were not available for the photo included: Tyler Bloofield, Nick Sanders, Savannah Strickland, Alicia Summers, Amanda Vulpis and Gary Zazenski.

FORENSICS LESSON: A representative of the Hernando County Sheriff's Office spoke at a recent meeting of the Illinois Club of Spring Hill. Deputy Kenneth Locke, a forensics specialist, talked about some of the special techniques used by the department at crime scenes. Standing beside Locke, left, is Bob Roley, club president.

HELPING TO SPREAD HOLIDAY CHEER: The High Point Mobile Patrol, a volunteer crime watch organization of High Point community members, donated toys and more than 30 Wal-Mart gift cards to the Hernando County Sheriff's Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving unit. The gifts were collected at the patrol's annual Christmas party. The gifts were distributed to needy children by COPPS deputies. Standing, from left, are Lt. Phil Wood; Emily Liddle, patrol secretary; James Morris, patrol president; Marlene LaBelle, patrol treasurer; Ellie Martin, patrol immediate past president; Deputy Tom Brooks; and Sheriff Richard Nugent.

DECORATIVE DONATION: During one of their December meetings, members of TOPS 461 (Taking Off Pounds Sensibly) brought Christmas tree ornaments and decorations, which they used to decorate a tree for Hernando Hospice House. Every member participated in the decorating. Following the meeting, several members delivered the decorated tree to Hospice for the enjoyment of residents Standing, from left, are Sandra Samons, Jeanette Watts, Patti Yontz, Pat Tommies, Dorothy Kuta, Ginger Wielk, Jill Jelen, Barbara Cordero and Marty Campbell. Seated and lying in front, from left, are Pat Bunce, Jean Albano, Shelia Hillis, Pat Gall and Shirley Daniels.

SCOTTISH HIGHLAND DANCERS: The Scottish Highland Dancers, under the direction of Diane Dubock, performed for the Brooksville Music Club recently. Club members enjoyed the performance by the five young lassies. Dancers, from left, are Carolynne MacDonald, Therese MacDonald, Bridget MacDonald, Jennifer Dampman and Caroline Dokoupil.