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Kwanzaa celebration kicks off today

| Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013, 5:21 a.m.

Kwanzaa, an African American and Pan-African holiday which celebrates family, community and culture, is celebrated starting today through Jan. 1. Its origins are in the first harvest celebrations of Africa from which it takes its name. The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits” in Swahili, a Pan-African language which is the most widely spoken African language. Also being celebrated today is Boxing Day, which traditionally the day following Christmas Day, when servants and tradesmen would receive gifts from their bosses or employers, known as a “Christmas box.” Today, Boxing Day is better known as a bank or public holiday which occurs Dec. 26, or the first or second weekday after Christmas Day, depending on national or regional laws. It is observed in Canada, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and other Commonwealth nations.

A big congratulations goes to senior Ty Kinter for receiving the Westmoreland County Music Educators Association $1,500 scholarship. That is really something to sing about.

For information on carrier alert notices for the accumulation of mail at a resident's home if they are 60 years of age or older or handicapped, call the Westmoreland County Area Agency on Aging at 724-830-4444 or 800-442-8000.

To inquire about the Scottdale Court apartments, the newest senior living community for those age 55 and older, call Homes Build Hope Inc. at 724-838-0752.

Pirates fans, tickets for the 2014 season are on sale. Visit or call 877-893-2827.

Take time to view the flag acknowledging Southmoreland Elementary School as a National Blue Ribbon School. It was received at a ceremony held Nov. 17-19 in Washington, D.C. It was attended by Southmoreland Elementary School Principal John Lee and Assistant Superintendent Timothy Scott. Scottdale is very proud of the school.

Schwan's Cares fundraiser for the Scottdale Public Library is going on. In the window of the library is a sign stating Schwan's Cares and it is true. Visit and click the Schwan's icon. This is campaign ID 2613, fundraiser ID 4822. Please help the library.

Kid Stitch will be held at the Scottdale Public Library Saturday morning. For more information, call 724-887-6140.

Congratulations to Joseph Rodriguez for receiving his well-earned Eagle Scout designation. This is quite an achievement.

Trib Total Media is looking for outstanding young citizens, junior and senior school students who exhibit exemplary character, academic achievements and commitment to community service leadership to be considered for the 2014 Outstanding Young Citizen. For full details on the program and to see how to nominate a student, visit Nominations are due by 5 p.m. Jan. 10.

Payne AME Church has been one of the most recent ones to erect a Ten Commandment monument.

This month I attended a Christmas party held at Payne AME Church, sponsored by the church's women's ministry. It was an afternoon affair. The welcome was given by Eileen Burton. The scripture reading was given by Ruth Webster. The dinner was delicious. A delightful array of Chinese auction baskets were available to purchase tickets for; I hoped to win, but didn't. Also, door prizes were awarded and the fun and games were under the direction of Kathaleen Walker.

I attended an event at the Mt. Pleasant Senior Center also this month. It was sponsored by Jacobs Creek Area Faith in Action. Snacks were served and a very informative presentation was given by Trooper Stephen Lamani on the subject of “Senior Safety.”

Pamela Soforic is the center director and Jennifer Gilpin is the center supervisor. Transportation to the center and to medical appointments can be arranged with the Westmoreland Transit Authority, call 800-242-2706. Readers, the center is located at 424 Washington St., Mt. Pleasant. The phone number is 724-547-4593. There are great activities scheduled weekly and a great opportunity to meet people. So put into your New Year's resolutions you will visit the Mt. Pleasant Senior Center more and participate in its activities and events.

Have a great New Year's Eve celebration and let's look forward to a healthy, wealthy, happy New Year in 2014.

God bless you all.

Patricia Walker is a Scottdale resident.

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