Around Town (12-18-13)

Blood drive to aid SPCA

BloodSource is celebrating its annual Season of Giving by encouraging area residents to participate in the Bow-Meow blood drive through Friday. The event will help the area Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals shelter. Donors are encouraged to bring items such as cat or dog food, new or used blankets, cat litter and detergent to the BloodSource center at 382 E. Yosemite Ave. Visit to view an updated list of needs.

Christmas Eve Fun Run

The Christmas Eve Fun Run will be held at 10 a.m. The run will be up to 5 miles and will start at Applegate Park at 26th and O Street. Runners, joggers and walkers are welcome. Bring a small wrapped present for the gift exchange. For more information, call (209) 722-4428

Tasty rice-pounding fun

The United Methodist Church will hold its annual mochi tsuki event on Saturday, Dec. 28, when people will gather for the traditional rice pounding. Sales will only be by advance order. The price will be $4 per pound for plain mochi and $1.50 each for ahn mochi. Orders can be placed by calling the church office at (209) 394-2264 between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. Monday through Friday. Leave a message clearly stating what you are ordering along with with your name, address and phone number. All orders should be made before Dec. 27 and will be ready to pick up from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 28 in the Pioneer Hall. Those who cannot pick up their order by 4 p.m. can notify the office that someone else will be picking it up. Mochi tsuki is a window into Japanese tradition, and those who would like to observe will be welcome. The best time to see everything in full swing is about 10 a.m. on Dec. 28.

Morning art classes

Art classes are offered Thursday at Atwater Baptist Church from 9 a.m. to noon. Call (209) 358-2570 for more information.

Senior Fitness Classes

Stephanie Botsford holds senior fitness classes on Monday and Wednesday mornings from 7:45 to 8:40, with an emphasis on agility, balance, strength, and friendship. Call (209) 769-8184 for more information.

Support for mental illness

Merced County’s branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness holds biweekly support groups for families affected by serious mental illness. For more information, call (209) 381-6844 and a NAMI volunteer will contact you within 48 hours.

Special Christmas service

Many people are grieving and find it very hard to put that sadness aside to get into the holiday spirit. Whatever the reason for sorrow, there is a place that helps keep sadness and grief from feeling awkward and unwelcome. A Blue Christmas service will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday at Merced United Methodist Church, 899 Yosemite Parkway.