Grief workshop planned

For the 29th year, First Lutheran Church in Alexandria will provide a workshop for anyone grieving the loss of a loved one during this holiday season.

Dubbed "Getting Through the Holidays Grief Workshop," it will be held Thursday, Nov. 21 from 2-3:30 p.m. or 6-7:30 p.m. at First Lutheran Church, 1655 18th Ave. E.

There is no charge to attend and no pre-registration is required. For more information, call the church at 320-762-2196.

International Christmas project

Donors have started filling shoe boxes with toys, school supplies and hygiene items for Operation Christmas Child, an international project that delivers the boxes to children affected by war, disease, disaster, poverty and famine.

Reach Church in Alexandria and Restoration Church in Glenwood will collect the shoe boxes from Monday, Nov. 18 to Monday, Nov. 25. They are among 5,000 U.S. drop-off locations. Operation Christmas Child is run by The Samaritan's Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham.

Reach Church, at 1310 N. Nokomis St. NE, will collect boxes on:

  • Monday, Nov. 18: 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

  • Tuesday, Nov. 19: 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

  • Wednesday, Nov. 20: 3:30-5:30 p.m.

  • Thursday, Nov. 21: 3:30-5:30 p.m.

  • Friday, Nov. 22: 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

  • Saturday, Nov. 23: 9-11 a.m.

  • Sunday, Nov. 24: 12-2 p.m.

  • Monday, Nov. 25: 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Restoration Church, 18151 County Road 21 in Glenwood, will collect boxes on:

  • Monday, Nov. 18: 4:30-6:30 p.m.

  • Tuesday, Nov. 19: 4:30-6:30 p.m.

  • Wednesday, Nov. 20: 4:30-6:30 p.m.

  • Thursday, Nov. 21: 4:30-6:30 p.m.

  • Friday, Nov. 22: 4:30-6:30 p.m.

  • Saturday, Nov. 23: 10 a.m.-12 p.m.

  • Sunday, Nov. 24: 12-2 p.m.

  • Monday, Nov. 25: 9-11 a.m.

For more information, call 630-474-9478 or visit samaritanspurse.org/occ. Participants can donate $9 per shoe box gift online through "Follow Your Box" and receive a tracking label to discover its destination.

To shop online, visit samaritanspurse.org/buildonline to select gifts matched to a child's specific age and gender, then finish packing the virtual shoebox by adding a photo and personal note of encouragement.

Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 168 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 160 countries and territories.

Talking about raising families

Bloggers, authors and public speakers Barrett and Jenifer Johnson of Atlanta will host their Imperfect & Normal Families Only Parenting Seminar at the Broadway Ballroom in Alexandria, the Unity Foundation said.

The Barretts founded INFO for Families in 2013, a website that talks about marriage and raising children. They will offer three sessions:

  • Parenting the Smartphone Generation from noon-1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22. Children of all ages face unique challenges and need tools to navigate their technological world. It is aimed at helping parents prepare their kids for social media, guard against online porn, and make wise choices (and stay safe) online.

  • Guys Night Out, Friday, Nov. 22, from 7-9 p.m. This event is designed to get fathers and sons talking about the essential issues of manhood. Using creative communication, videos, and examples from today's headlines, the Barretts help fathers and sons talk openly about porn, girls and living lives of purpose.

  • Imperfect & Normal Families Only Parenting Seminar from 8:30-11:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 23. This seminar covers two topics: Critical Conversations – Helping our Kids Navigate a Hyper-Sexualized Culture, and Turning Your Child’s Heart Towards God.

The Johnsons have spent the past 25 years ministering to students and families through the church, most recently serving as the Minister to Families at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church outside Atlanta. To register, visit ufparentingseminar.eventbrite.com

Public invited to sing along with ‘Messiah’

Music director Brad Lambrecht will lead the 10th annual "Messiah" Sing Along at 3 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 8 at the Mount Carmel Chapel on Lake Carlos.

Composed by George Frideric Handel in 1741, the "Messiah" oratorio tells the story of the birth of Christ, including biblical prophesy. Perhaps its most famous segment is the "Hallelujah Chorus."

The sing-along will include a full orchestra and soloists, and audience members will be invited to join in. Soprano soloist will be Nicole Mattfeld; alto, Ruth Blom; tenor, Steve Deitz; bass, Greg Kapphahn; and piano, Becky Worley. Local youth musicians and church choirs will also join in.

A suggested donation of $5 will go to the Alexandria Area High School Food Shelf. Organizers ask that participants do not bring canned goods, perishable or non-perishable items to the concert. A special grant from Thrivent Financial will also benefit the high school food shelf.

For more information, call (320) 846-2744 or visit mountcarmelministries.com

Church holds bingo and raffle

Seven Dolors Catholic Church in Millerville will hold its fall bingo and raffle event at 1:30 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 24.

Raffle tickets are available the day of the event and before and after mass in Brandon, Millerville, Parkers Prairie and Urbank. Raffle items include cash prizes, a quilt, fishing rod and reel, an Infant of Prague statue, a bottle of scotch and Millerville butter.

Churches offer free Thanksgiving meal

Two local churches have announced they will serve free Thanksgiving meals this year.

In Alexandria, The Church of St. Mary's will serve a free community meal from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 28, in the St. Mary's school gym in Alexandria.

The church encourages guests to come to the meal to meet other Alexandria area residents, and is encouraging donations of pumpkin and fruit pies.

The gym is at 420 Irving St., and the church says to use the courtyard entrance.

In Osakis, First Presbyterian Church will serve its annual community dinner on Thursday, Nov. 28, at noon in its fellowship hall, 101 W. Oak St. All ages are welcome at no charge for this traditional holiday menu.

Walk-ins are welcome, but reservations are appreciated. Transportation and meal delivery will be available in and near Osakis.

To reserve a spot, arrange transportation or for other information, call the church at 320-859-4550 or the Osakis Senior Center at 320-859-2325.

A free-will offering will be donated to local food shelves.