Giving is what the holiday season is all about. So it is fitting that we give a big round of applause to Aurora attorney Elizabeth "Betsy" Tomasko Garner as she retires from the Portage Park District board of directors after 10 years of dedicated volunteer service.

Betsy helped lead the group through its very early lean-budget years, assisted with the successful campaign to create stable funding through the passage of its first levy in 2014, and was instrumental in establishing the non-profit Portage Park District Foundation.

"Betsy's insights, honest assessments, open communication and overall love for the Portage County community and parks are greatly appreciated," according to the park's website announcement of her retirement.

Portage County Probate Judge Robert Berger will appoint her replacement. For details about the application process, contact the park district office at 330-297-7728 or

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Aurora Community Theatre will offer winter workshops for youth Dec 27-29 at the theatre. On Dec. 27, Andy Novak will conduct private vocal coaching, including voice warmup, exercise and a customized lesson. Limit is eight 45-minute sessions.

On Dec. 28, Debbie Cluts will hold a storybook performance workshop from 9 a.m. to noon for children in grades 2 to 5. Youngsters will learn about the jobs of playwright, director and actor as they create and perform their very own stories.

That same afternoon, Cluts will offer an audition workshop for grades 6 to 12. Aspiring young performers will discover how to choose an appropriate monologue, give a "cold read," and leave a memorable impression.

On Dec. 29, Cluts will offer her always-popular improvisation workshops where young performers will build confidence, creativity and think on the spot. Beginners in grades 2 to 12 are welcome for the morning session, while advanced improvisers, those who have completed the earlier session or have improve experience will build on their basic skills to explore a more complex performance.

As a special treat from ACT to the community on Dec. 29 from 6 to 8 p.m., the theatre will offer a free event for youngsters in grades 2 to 12, when they show the movie version of the play that has been chosen for children's summer workshop 2017.

There is no charge for admission to this fun event, but children are encouraged to register in advance, and bring small change for the refreshments that will be sold at intermission.

Register for all coaching sessions, workshops and the movie at or call producer Michelle Regelbrugge at 248-895-0515.

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Give the gift that can save a life. Aurora Fire Department will host an American Red Cross blood drive Dec. 24 from 8 a.m. to noon at the main firehouse on West Pioneer Trail. Aurora's hard-working firefighters promise special post-donation refreshments for the holiday season.

You can reserve a donation time online at or call 800-733-2767. Walk-ins are always welcome. If you will be out of town or are unable to give blood, please consider a monetary donation to support this important effort. Visit to donate.

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Now, it's my turn to give special appreciation to each of you, my faithful readers, and offer best wishes to you and your family as you celebrate the special days this month Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, St. Nicholas Day, St. Lucy's Day, Christmas, St. Stephan's Day, Boxing Day, or Festivus for the Rest of Us.

In the spirit of the season, please give generously to your favorite charity, the American Red Cross or join me in supporting Aurora's own wonderful food pantry and resale store at Volunteers of America, 1063 N. Aurora Road. Be sure to write "Aurora branch" in the memo line.

Best wishes to all for a healthy and prosperous new year and thank you for reading.

We welcome your Aurora news. Contact Christine Patronik-Holder at 440-554-4913 or