Around Town: Make a difference

Art Villarruz will play some of his musical compositions at the California Retired Teachers Association's annual holiday luncheon at the Branding Iron Restaurant, 640 W. 16th St.

The affair begins today at 11:15 a.m. Tickets are $12 for members and $17 for guests. Call Josie Torres at (209) 723-1806 to check on availability of reservations.

CRTA has an open membership policy and is actively seeking new members interested in becoming involved in educational and retirement activities. Anyone interested in inquiring about membership may call Shirley Vaughn-Hulbert at (209) 722-4782.


Buy 2003 cookbook

Merced Italian American Women's Club has that special Christmas gift for you.

Its members are selling the "Buon Appetito" cookbook, 2003 edition. It is a collection of Italian-American recipes from Merced County through the years. It sells for $10 and can be picked up at the front entrance to the Italo-American Lodge, 18 and U streets, Dec. 8 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For details, call (209) 723-8575.


Map your path

The first flood gallery of the Merced Civic Center, 678 W. 18th St., is filled with maps -- maps of school boundaries, maps showing street light locations, maps showing bus routes, maps showing graffiti incidents.

All of them are part of a display to celebrate National Geography Week, and to show people that maps have many more uses than just showing how to get from here to there.

The exhibit can be seen until mid-December from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during regular business days. It also is open when the City Council and other agencies have night meetings.


Hire carolers

Playhouse Merced is offering the services of its Caroling Quartet, Jim and Diane Kocher, Tess Parks, and Goran Norquist, at parties or other events through the holiday season.

Caroling packages run from $100-$300 and can be customized. Arrangements can be made at (209) 725-8587.

For the remainder of the holiday season, Playhouse Merced also serves as a holiday venue. There are special company group rates for its two holiday shows: "Little Women: The Musical" and "It's a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play."


Win doll house

St. Paul Lutheran Church is raffling a hand-crafted Victorian doll house, completely furnished. Tickets are $1 each or 6 tickets for $5.

The drawing will be held at the end of the school Christmas program on the evening of Dec. 18. The winner need not be present to win.

Tickets may be obtained by contacting the church office at (209) 383-3301.

Items for Around Town must be mailed or delivered to the Merced Sun-Star, 3033 G St., Merced, CA 95340 or e-mailed to bhale@mercedsun-star.com at least one week in advance of the event.