Community Update

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Gainesville Woman’s Club Warm Clothing Drive
Nov. 19 – Dec. 23
Belks at the Oaks Mall

The Woman’s Club will partner with Belk’s in the Oaks mall to collect warm clothing to distribute to adults and children at Grace Marketplace in Gainesville. A collection box will be at the north entrance of Belk’s facing Newberry Road will be available during store hours. Clothing can also be dropped off at 2809 West University Avenue between 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. More information available at 352-376-3901 or via email at

Cane Boil and Fiddle Fest
Nov. 28, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Morningside Nature Park

The annual event combines traditions of giving thanks and the fall harvest with live fiddle, banjo and string band music. Visitors can experience the making and bottling of sugar cane syrup, horse-drawn wagon rides and living history interpreters and demonstrations. More information is available at

Festival of Trees
Nov. 30 – Dec. 5, 4 to 8 p.m.
The Grand Oaks Resort, 300 Marion County Road

The Grand Oaks Front Arena will be transformed into a Winter Wonderland with more than 30 decorated trees on display. On Dec. 5 trees will be auctioned to support local charities. More information is available at 352-750-5500 or

A Modern History of a Traditional Jewish Dish or How Cholent Became Hungarian
Dec. 1, 5:30 to 7 p.m.
Pugh Hall Ocora
UF Campus

Dr. Rac is the Library Coordinator for Jewish Heritage, Price Library of Judaica. Prior to Dr. Rac’s talk, the winner(s) of the Cholent Recipe Contest will be announced. More info at

Immersed: An Evening of Springs Films
Dec. 3, 7 p.m.
Historic Thomas Center

Noted directors take the stage to screen segments from their films including Jill Heinerth’s “We are Water,” Bill Belleville and Bob Giguere’s new “Hidden Secrets of Florida Springs,” Eric Flagg’s “Ichetucknee Springs” and others. More info at

Jingle Bell Ball
Dec. 4, 6:30 p.m.
Historic Thomas Center
Downtown Gainesville

The Thomas Center Associates present the annual ball featuring music, dinner and dancing. Proceeds benefit the Thomas Center School Tour Program. More information available at 352-372-3845.

Rwanda Sustainable Families 6th Annual Fundraiser
Dec. 4, 7 to 10 p.m.
The Wooly, 20 N. Main St.

The event will feature artisan gift items, a silent auction, music. The organization is a Gainesville-based non-profit that strengthens the resilience and capacity of communities by working to ensure long-term solutions to poverty. More information available at

Third Annual 4-H 5K Little Run on the Prairie
Dec. 5, 7:30 a.m.
Payne’s Prairie Preserve State Park, 100 Savannah Blvd.

This is a 5K run around Payne’s Prairie, Florida’s oldest State Preserve. After the race, there will be a presentation about the Prairie by a Park Ranger and guests can make their own healthy smoothie using the blender bike. Register by Nov. 27 to guarantee a t-shirt. More information available at or 352-955-2402.

The 5th annual Gathering of the Artists Holiday Showcase
Dec. 5, 10 a.m. to 6p.m.; Dec. 6, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Gainesville Woman’s Club

The 5th annual event features 26 award-winning artists in one locations. Featured work includes jewelry, ceramincs, woodworking, painting and fabrics. Food trucks and musicians will also be on site. More information available at

1st Annual Citrus High School Chili Cook Off
Dec. 5, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
600 Highland Blvd.

Proceeds from the competition will benefit a Citrus High School student trip to Disney’s Youth Program Energy and Waves Lab. More info at

Children’s Holiday at Santa Fe
Dec. 5, 2 p.m.
Santa Fe College Fine Arts Hall

The annual event features Santa Claus with dancing sweets, hip-hop elves, multicultural winter holiday songs, crafts, cookies and punch. The Fine Arts Hall is located at 3000 NW 83rd Street. More information avalable at

Holiday Tree Lighting
Dec. 5, 6 to 8 p.m.
Historic Thomas Center

The City of Gainesville ushers in the holiday season with a holiday tree lighting ceremony including a program of carols and musical performances. Santa will also be on hand. More information available at 352-334-ARTS or

Haile Homestead Holidays
Dec. 6, 12 to 4 p.m.
8500 SW Archers Road (SR 24), 3 miles west of I-75, exit 384

Stroll through the 1856 plantation home decked out in an array of traditional greenery and Victorian finery, with a railroad theme. There will be music, hot cider, a selection of home-baked goodies and special holiday ornaments. More information available at or 352-336-9006.

Law in the Library: Adoptions
Dec. 7, 6 to 7 p.m.
Alachua County Headquarters Library
401 E. University Ave.

The library is partnering with the Eight Judicial Circuit Bar Association to provide information on adoptions. Adoption attorney Cynthia Swanson will discuss different types of adoptions. More information is available at www.aclib,us/law.

Water Works: Stand Up and Act Now
Dec. 8, 10 a.m.

Whitey Markle and Johnathan Brainard of the St. John’s Sierra Club will present a program describing the impact of problems with Florida’s water resources on people living in Marion, Citrus and Levy counties. More information at 352-447-5439.

6th Annual Season of Hope 5K/15K
Dec. 12, 7:45 a.m.
Gainesville Hawthorne Trail

The run will benefit Tyler’s Hope and the UF Center for Movement Disorders and Nuero-restoration. The trail head is located at 3300 SE 15th St. Registration at

63rd annual Ocala/Marion Christmas Parade
Dec. 12, 5:30 p.m.

The annual parade will feature the theme “A Winters Express” and will begin at the McPherson complex and head down Silver Springs Blvd. ending on 8th Ave. There will be over 100 units, including marchers, floats, bands and car clubs. More information is available at

Puttin’ on the Ritz
March 12, 2016
Gainesville Country Club

The Children’s Home Society and the Gainesville Auxiliary will host the 29th annual event to raise funds to help vulnerable children and families. The event features live entertainment, dancing and auction and fine cuisine, desserts and beverages. More information available at 352-334-0955 or

Tourism Institute Study Needs Participants

The UF Eric Friedhelm Tourism Institute is looking for volunteers for a study measuring the impacts of online advertising on viewer’s attention, emotion, and memory using a mobile eye-tracker and an arousal sensor. To qualify you mus be between the ages of 18-60 years old and have normal vision or be able to wear contact lenses (no glasses). Participant will receive an Amazon gift card after completing the test. For more information contact Lauren at

Ronald McDonald House Needs Volunteers

The Ronald McDonald House in Gainesville serves 31 families, keeping them close to their sick children receiving critical medical care. The House is always full, and it’s single maintenance manager could use a little help. If you are handy and can spare two hours each week to help with routine maintenance tasks please contact Dorie Faulkner at 352-374-4404, extension 224.

Mentors needed for Take Stock in Children Program
The Education Foundation of Alachua County

Take Stock in Children pairs good students who have the odds stacked against them with mentors who provide support, encouragement, and the guidance they need to succeed in school. Mentors will meet with their student once a week at a convenient time such as their lunch hour. More information available at or call 352-955-7242.

Indoor Gardening Sessions for Cancer Patients
Ongoing Tuesdays from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
UF Wilmot Gardens Greenhouse

The Gainesville Chapter of the Climb for Cancer Foundation is sponsoring weekly indoor gardening sessions for community members who have been or are being treated for any form of cancer. Free parking is available and individuals are welcome to bring a friend or caregiver. More information is available from Deborah at 352-294-5992.

Hernando Youth Orchestra Rehearsals
Ongoing Sundays from 3:30 to 5 p.m.
Heather Community Center
Weeki Wachee

Children ages 5 to 21 can learn to play an instrument, and learn music theory and site reading. Sessions will be held at The Heather Community Center, 9100 Nakoma Way in Weeki Wachee. The event is free and open to the public. More information available at

Citizens for an Engaged Electorate Meetings
First Thursday of each month, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Citizens for an Engaged Electorate is a group of progressive individuals dedicated to building a functioning democratic republic. The meetings are open to the public and are held at Melanie’s Restaurant, 124 E. Noble Street in Williston. More information is available from Barbara Byran at 352-465-8461.

Cooking Oil Recycling
Alachua County Hazardous Waste Collection

The Alachua County Hazardous Waste Collection Program will recycle used peanut, corn, canola or olive oil into biodiesel fuel. The biodiesel is combined with standard diesel and used to power County fleet vehicles and a biofuel electrical generator. Oil should be cool, and placed in a metal or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. The oil cannot mix will other fluids such as water, petroleum products or soaps. The collection center is located at 5125 NE 63rd Ave. in Gainesville. More information on hours or operation and other rural collection centers at 352-334-0440.

Free English Classes
Millhopper Branch Library

Free adult English classes are available to newcomers to Alachua County. More information available at

Written and Spoken Language Study
UF Aphasia and Bilingualism Lab

The Aphasia and Bilingualism lab is currently recruiting healthy adults age 50 to 80 for a study on written and spoken language. Participants should have English as a primary language and have normal or corrected vision and/or hearing. More information available at or 352-273-3715.

UF Environmental Horticulture Gardening Study

The University of Florida Environmental Horticulture Department is seeking healthy women between the ages of 30-45 without gardening experience. Volunteers will undergo an MRI and participate in gardening session over an eight week period. For more information contact Christy at 352-273-4576.

AYA Needs Host Families for Students

The Academic Year in America program matches students from more than 40 countries with an American host family for a semester or academic year. Families can choose their student and must provide room and board. More information available at or 352-237-3966.

Alachua County Wage Recovery Ordinance

The Alachua County Wage Recovery Ordinance began on January 1, 2014. The ordinance provides Alachua County employees a method for collecting unpaid or underpaid wages. For details on the ordinance or how to file a wage theft complaint call the Alachua County Equal Opportunity Office at (352) 374-5275.

Institute for Workforce Innovation

The Institute for Workforce Innovation (IWI) is dedicated to improving the communities’ quality of life through education, employment and advocacy. For more information or to volunteer call 352-225-3307 or online at

Savvy Caregiver Training
Elder Options
100 NW 75th St., Suite 30

Elder Options in conjunction with the State of Florida Department of Elder Affairs offers free six week training programs designed for family caregivers who assist persons with Alzheimer’s and or dementia. More information available at 352-378-6649.

Operation PetSnip

Spay and neuter pet services available for qualifying low-income Alachua County and surrounding rural county residents. The cost of surgery, pain medication and anesthesia for pets spayed or neutered is covered. More information available from No More Homeless Pets’ Operation Petsnip at

The Salvation Army Thrift Store

The Salvation Army thrift stores are funded by generous donations of material goods. The stores accept gently used merchandise to be refurbished and resold. The Gainesville store is located at 55 NW 23rd Ave. More information on hours of operation available at 352-373-7597 or

Children’s Home Society Adoption Program

There is a significant need to find adoptive homes for children in the foster care system. Currently there are many children wanting and wishing to find a home to call their own. More information available 352-334-0955.

Gone 4 Ever Shredding
The Arc of Alachua County is a local not for profit that provides employment services to adults with developmental disabilities through several small business it has created. One of its businesses, Gone 4 Ever shredding, offers a free paper shredding service to all residents of Alachua County every Wednesday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. at its main location at 3303 NW 83rd Street. Gone 4 Ever shredding hold a AAA certification in document destruction so all paper is safely and securely destroyed. For more information please call 352-334-4060 ext. 132 or visit

Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve- Supporting our Nation’s Service Members

Today, nearly half our nation’s fighting forces are members of the Guard and Reserve. When they are called is called to active duty, they leave behind a family, a community, and a job. Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Department of Defense agency, honors and products the bond between service members and their civilian employers. Whether serving our country or supporting those who do, we all serve. To learning more about ESGR, call 1-800-336-4590, or

The Family Mealtime Project

This spring research at the University of Florida will conduct a research study to learn about families and their interactions during mealtimes. The Family Mealtime Project is available to two-parent families who live within 20 miles of Gainesville and have a child between the ages of 2 and 6. The study consists of three, 45 minute sessions in families’ home in which families will complete questionnaires and two video recordings of their mealtimes. Families will be compensated at the completion of the study. Families interested in participating or who have questions should call the Family Mealtime Project office toll free at 1-866-673-9623.

“Kidney Smart” Education Program

The “Kidney Smart” program educates and partners with people to take control of their health and helps them develop a plan to live a healthy life. The program features medication, diet and nutrition information, stresses the importance of choosing a heath care team, provides continuing education and treatment options. More information available at

Suwannee River Economic Council, Inc. Hosts Meal Site
Open every Tuesday, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The Suwannee River Economic Council, Inc. hosts a meal site at the Bronson Community Church located on Hathaway Ave. in Bronson, FL. The meal site serves seniors age 60 or older. Meals are served at noon. There is no cost, but donations are welcomed. For more information, call 352-490-7055 x1.

Ronald McDonald House Charities NCF Seeks Long-Term Volunteers

Ronald McDonald House Charities of North Central Florida, a non-profit organization in Gainesville that assists families with children being treated at local medical facilities, is looking for long-term volunteers to serve as hosts for its two core programs: Ronald McDonald House and Ronald McDonald Family Room at Shands Hospital for Children. For more information, visit or call Dorie Faulkner, Volunteer Coordinator at 352-374-4404 ext. 224.

Visiting Chef Program, Ronald McDonald House

Ronald McDonald House Charities of North Central Florida, a non-profit organization in Gainesville that assists families with children being treated at local medical facilities, seeks volunteer groups or families to provide a full-course dinner or weekend-breakfast for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Gainesville. Chefs may come equipped with ingredients to serve approximately 50 people and cook in a spacious, well-stocked kitchen or they may cater a meal from a local restaurant. Meals are served 7 days a week, including holidays. For more information, contact Judy Bates at or call 352-374-4404 ext. 299.

The Kindness Cookie Company

In partnership with The Arc of Alachua County, the Kindness Cookie Company bakes homemade cookies with our messages of kindness, gratitude and inspiration inside. In the spirit of these messages, Kindness for Cookies also seeks to raise awareness of the unique gifts of individuals with developmental disabilities and how they can teach us to live with greater compassion, acceptance and presence. The Kindness Cookie Company can bake for any event, or custom orders and gifts. For more information, contact Susan Thiele, founder, at 352-256-8084 or email at, you can also visit the website at

In the U.S., 19 people die each day waiting for an organ transplant—most of them for kidneys. has become the most successful nonprofit organization improving those odds by finding living altruistic donors for patients who desperately need transplants. Visit and meet some extraordinary people.

Help a Kid Start a Lemonade Stand

The National Federation of Independent Business Young Entrepreneur Foundation, based in Washington, D.C., is urging parents to teach their children lessons about entrepreneurship and responsibility by helping them start a lemonade stand. They provide free classroom curriculum and other resources to enable students to learn first-hand about the risks and rewards of operating a small business. This curriculum can be found at To learn more about the NFIB Young Entrepreneur Foundation, visit

Red Carpet Customer Service Training Program

This program, launched by FloridaWorks in partnership with Santa Fe College, Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce and Innovation Gainesville, has a goal of training 3,000 people in customer service. Each participant earns a certificate from Santa Fe College after completing the 3-hour course. To register, contact Santa Fe CIED at 352-395-5053. To become a community sponsor, contact the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce at 352-334-7100.

Adoption from Foster Care

There are currently more than 107,000 children available for adoption in the U.S. Foster Care System. The Adoption from Foster Care campaign encourages potential parents to adopt and aims to increase the number of potential families inquiring about adoption. You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent.

Veterans Outreach Program, Epilepsy Foundation

The Epilepsy Foundation wants to help men and women who’ve suffered traumatic brain injuries or TBIs, which are a common form of injury that can lead to seizures and epilepsy in some cases. Symptoms can include confusion, momentary black-outs and uncontrollable shaking or twitching. For more information about the foundation’s Veterans Outreach Program and other services, visit or call 1-800-332-1000.

Three Rivers Legal Services

Three Rivers Legal Services, Inc. is a local, non-profit corporation that provides free, quality civil legal services to low-income, eligible clients in seventeen counties throughout North Florida. Three Rivers is now providing representation to eligible clients who live in Alachua, Levy, Gilchrist, Bradford or Union County for family law cases, regardless of domestic violence. For more information, call the Legal Helpline at 866-256-8091.

To have your event included on Community Update, please send all relevant information to:
Sue Wagner
Community Update
P.O. Box 118405
Gainesville, FL 32611-8405
The e-mail address is, with the words “Community Update” in the subject line.

The Community Update fax number is 352-392-5741. All submissions must be made on organization letterhead at least two weeks prior to the event.

Please include only the basic facts:
who, what, where, when and why and a phone number or website address for more information.

Please note that not all submissions will be on-air due to time limitations.
All submissions will be included in this online listing.