Holiday tree lighting ceremony kicks off on Friday.

Lake Eola Park is starting to get into the holiday spirit. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

ORLANDO — Earlier this month, on Nov. 14, the fountain at Lake Eola turned blue.
If that seems like a somber color, it was for a reason. The city was officially using that color in recognition of World Diabetes Day, and to raise awareness of the illness that has impacted so many lives.
The next day, the fountain turned purple, this time to commemorate Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month and Hunger and Homeless Awareness Month as well.
On Friday, though, the fountain at Lake Eola will be displaying the colors green and red more regularly, and the city will use the final day in November to officially kick off the holiday season.
Starting at 4 p.m. at the Walt Disney Amphitheater at Lake Eola Park, there will be the traditional and official lighting of the city’s Christmas tree. That tree has been standing next to the Amphitheater for more than a week now, after Parks & Recreation Department workers set it up there.
The annual Holiday Lights Orlando event will be followed by a presentation of “The Gift,” a play presented by the Trinity Downtown Evangelical Lutheran Church and School. The evening will also include live music, an outdoor movie, and holiday treats for everyone to enjoy. Continue reading

Job seekers turn out in force at Central Florida Fairgrounds, ready to work.

Job seekers flocked to the Central Florida Fairgrounds on Wednesday for a job fair sponsored by Christian Help. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

ORLANDO – By 11:30 in the morning on Wednesday, the line had already started to grow quite long, and it only got that much lengthhier as the hour inched closer to noon.
That was when the doors of the Central Florida Fairgrounds opened to the crowd, but not for entertainment or recreational activities. Everyone in line was waiting eagerly for one thing: a job.
“There’s over 500 jobs here,” said Frank Masse, one of the organizers of the job fair held at the fairgrounds, who welcomed in the large crowd of employment seekers. “You hear me loud and clear – over 500 jobs.”
Not everyone who set up a booth or table at the job fair was, in fact, looking to hire. The event also included booths set up by local universities looking to recruit students, and by employment service agencies like Workforce Central Florida and OrlandoJobs.com ready to hand out information on resources available to those seeking employment.
But other employers were there, enough that a directory listing the contact information on each one was given to the prospective employees as they walked in the main door.
The list provided a diverse group, including Crime Prevention Security in Orlando, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Goodwill Industries of Central Florida, Florida’s Blood Centers, HomeTeam Pest Defense, and others.
The Central Florida Job Fair was organized by Christian Help, a faith-based ministry that provides a host of local services, including the fact that each year the ministry hosts this event, one of the largest job fairs in Central Florida. Continue reading

Family of shooting victim works to establish a new scholarship in his name.

Tiffany Dunnahoe works the table for the Levi Burch Schholarship Fund at the annual Game Feast sponsored by the Still Water Christian Life Center Church in Haines City. (Photo by Dave Raith).

HAINES CITY – Ingrid Burch recalls just how passionately her son Levi loved the great outdoors, sports, and all kinds of physical activities.
“His love was anything to do with hunting and the outdoors, but he was pretty much into any kind of sports,” she said. “Each morning he would go to the gym, play basketball, run back to the house, grab his golf clubs, go play golf, come back, and go hog hunting at night. That was one of his ambitions. He wanted to be a game warden.”
Today, Ingrid Burch runs the Levi Burch Foundation, which is in the process of starting a second scholarship in Levi’s name.
“We want to create a scholarship for criminal justice students, or for what Levi loved, which was the great outdoors,” she said. “We’re trying to make this something positive. We want to do something to help others.”
Continue reading

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