The Free Store annual drive to replenish resources for distributions of essential hygiene and first aid items for neighbors in need continues through Christmas Eve at Starbucks on 103rd and Longwood Drive; stop in to choose an ornament with needed items listed, then purchase those items and return to Starbucks by Dec. 24. Free Store volunteers will also host a drive-through collection of gently used holiday decorations, supplies, and gifts as well as gift cards and monetary donations Sat., Dec. 3. 9 to 11 a.m., Morgan Park Presbyterian Church parking lot, 110th Place at Longwood Drive. Items from these collections will be given away to neighbors at the Free Store distributions on Wed., Dec. 7 and 21, and through the winter. Turpin Cares hosts the Free Store with distributions on the first and third Wednesdays of the month, 3 to 4:30 p.m., Morgan Park Presbyterian Church. Info: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Registration is open for the Beverly Arts Center School of Fine Arts eight-week winter and spring sessions in visual, written, and performance arts at the Center, 2407 W. 111th St. The first winter session begins Jan. 9, the second winter session begins Mar. 6, and the first spring session begins May 1. Find the complete class schedule and registration information online at thebeverlyartscenter.com under the fine arts classes tab.
Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 9401 S. Oakley Ave., will hold a variety of events open to all for Advent and Christmas. Wednesdays through Dec. 21, Advent contemplative worship services, 7 p.m., and Advent study, 7:45 p.m.; Santa Lucia Festival celebrating the gift of love and service, which shine the light of hope in our lives, Sun., Dec. 11, 10:30 a.m.; Longest Night Service of song, prayer, and silence, we will seek healing and hope, Wed., Dec. 21, 7 p.m.; Christmas Eve, Sat., Dec. 24, 3:00 PM – family Christmas Eve service including an Instant Christmas Pageant, 3 p.m. and the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service of word and music celebrating the gift of the Incarnation, 8 p.m.; and Christmas Day Pajama Worship with song, the Christmas story, and hot cocoa — Christmas PJs and sweaters encouraged, Sun., Dec. 25, 9:30 a.m. Info: bethlehem-chicago.org or 773-932-5545.
Local School Council meetings: Kellogg School LSC, Thurs., Dec. 1, 6 p.m., 773-535-2590, Kellogg.CPS.edu; John H. Vanderpoel Humanities Academy LSC, Tues., Dec. 6, 5:30 p.m., 773-535-2690, VHAelementary.org; Barnard School LSC, Mon., Dec. 12, 6:30 p.m., 773-535-2625, Barnard.CPS.edu; Morgan Park High School LSC, Weds., Dec. 21, 6 p.m., 773-535-2550, MorganParkCPS.org. Call the school or visit their website for more information.
A drop off of unused or expired household prescription medications and document shredding will be open for 19th Ward residents Sat., Dec. 3, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., CrossWinds Church, 10835 S. Pulaski Rd.
Western Avenue Holiday Road featuring shopping, food and beverages, entertainment, and a chance to win a $50 Bucks Stay Here gift card, Sat., Dec. 3, 12 to 5 p.m., Western Avenue. Info: mpbhba.org.
The Beverly Area Arts Alliance hosts the Holiday Uprising Market, Sat., Dec. 3, 12 to 4 p.m., Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St. Wrap up your holiday shopping while supporting talented local artists offering handmade wares. Music and seasonal libations will help get shoppers in the spirit.
The 23rd Annual Kevin Dowling Christmas is for Kids Toy Drive will be held Sat., Dec. 3, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., 115 Bourbon Street, 3359 W. 115th St. The fun includes a visit from Santa at 1 p.m. Admission is new toys or monetary donations to purchase new toys, which are given to children at area hospitals including OSF Little Company of Mary Health Care Centers and Hope Children’s Hospital. Info on Facebook at Kevin Dowling Toy Drive or Jim McKeever, 773-972-6264.
The Beverly Arts Center will hold auditions for its professional non-equity production of Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun,” Mon., Dec. 5 and Tues., Dec. 6, 7 to 9 p.m., in person, at the BAC, 2407 W. 111th St. The production is slated for Feb. 9 to 19.
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea will host a free holiday safety and crime prevention presentation for senior citizens Tues., Dec. 6, 10 a.m., Smith Village, 2320 W. 113th Pl. The presentation will be led by Detective Michael Kane, a 26-year veteran of the Cook County police force and an expert on cybercrimes and internet fraud. His presentation will cover credit card and onl;ine shopping fraud, protecting package deliveries, and travel safety as well as cybercrimes that often target seniors. Register online at the19thward.com or 773-238-8766 by Dec. 2.
Genevieve Loyka, artist and longtime instructor at the Ridge Park ceramics studio, recently passed away. Area neighbors are invited to share stories of her at a memorial Tues., Dec. 6, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., at Ridge Park, 9625 S. Longwood Dr. Loyka taught pottery to youth and adults for 30 years before retiring in 2004. She attended the Art Institute of Chicago and Lill Street Studio for arts training. According to ceramics instructor Vida Radick, “Watching Genny throw on the potter’s wheel was like watching a well orchestrated staged ballet production . . . the clay danced for her.” Info: 312-747-6646.
This month, Wintrust Platinum Adventures offers the following outings and events: “The Night Before Christmas: Christmas Traditions,” American holiday traditions from kissing under the mistletoe to why Santa wears a red suit, Tues., Dec, 6, 2 p.m., and “Christmas Gifts: 10 of the Greatest Ever Given,” heartwarming true stories, Thurs., Dec. 8, 10 a.m., First National Bank of Evergreen Park, 3960 W. 95th St.; Dickens Christmas Carol Lunch and Show, Theatre at the Center, Munster, Ind., Fri., Dec. 9, departing 11 a.m.; Holiday Breakfast Cheer, Tues., Dec. 13, 9 a.m., The Original Pancake House, 10437 S. Western; and “The Immersive Nutcracker: A Winter Miracle,” Fri., Dec. 16, 11 a.m., Lighthouse ArtSpace, includes lunch at Orso’s. Info, admission, and reservations: Margie O’Connell, 773-298-4712, email@example.com.
Public health and safety are the focus of the 19th Ward telephone town hall meeting Tues., Dec. 6, 7 to 8 p.m. Guests are Dr. Jennifer Seo of the Chicago Department of Public Health and 22nd District Police Commander Sean Joyce. Register in advance at the19thward.com.
Stop by Haven, 2501 W. 103rd St., for a variety of holiday shopping events, including permanent necklaces, bracelets and ankle bracelets from Common Bond, Wed., Dec. 7, 4 to 7 p.m.; a pop-up shop with Oleander & Artesian and Hazel Ray, Sat., Dec. 10; and Aimie’s European Bakery Pie Pop-Up, Thurs., Dec. 22 (orders must be placed on AimiesEuropeanBakery.com by Dec. 18). Haven 1890 holiday hours include Sundays in December, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and Christmas Eve, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Hats (and Scarfs) for the Homeless invites the community to help bring warmth to people in need by knitting or crocheting hats and scarfs to be given to homeless shelters as part of the Morgan Park United Methodist Church Advent Outreach Program. Donations can be dropped off Thurs., Dec. 8 and Fri., Dec. 9, 12 to 5 p.m., or Sat., Dec. 10, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Morgan Park United Methodist Church, 11030 S. Longwood Dr. Info: 773-238-2600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 19th Ward Youth and Community Foundation will host a blood drive Sun., Dec. 11, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., St. Cajetan School gym, 2447 W. 112th St. (door 3). Appointments are required and can me made at communityblood.org or 800-280-4102 using the code CS01. Bring photo ID to appointments.
Holiday Dodge Ball Tournament, open to all 19th Ward elementary school students, will be held Dec. 26 and 27 at the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, 3857 W. 111th St. The fee is $1 per player, and everyone must be registered by Dec. 22 at the19thward.com. Players will be grouped by age and randomly assigned to teams. Info: 773-238-8766.
For the third year, Mercy Circle, 2659 W. 99th St., was honored in the Chicago Tribune, “Chicago’s Top Workplaces” small businesses employing between 100 and 249 people. The rankings honor companies with “a people-centered culture.” Mercy Circle is currently hiring licensed practical nurses and certified nursing assistants, among other opportunities. Info: 773-253-3600 or MercyCircle.org.