A holiday house-decorating contest is being sponsored by PRIDE in Paxton. To be considered for the contest, homes should be lit up and decorated between 6 and 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13, when judges will be driving around town to select the winners.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 6289 in Gibson City is accepting names of people in the community to receive Christmas baskets, as well as donations to fund the purchase of items to be placed in those Christmas baskets. Names and donations will be accepted until Dec. 15 at the VFW post, located at 122 S. Lott Blvd. The VFW post is open starting at 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and starting at 1 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, people can call 217-784-4210.

The Elliott Amvets will hold a mountain oyster fry at noon on the last Saturday of each month — Dec. 22, Jan. 26, Feb. 23, March 23, April 27 and May 25.  Meals cost $10 per person and include mountain oysters, gizzards and livers.  For more information, people can call 217-419-0247.

The Foosland Sportmen’s Club will host splatterboard shoots on Jan. 1, Feb. 10, March 10 and April 14. Each splatterboard shoot starts at 8 a.m., with a cooked-to-order breakfast offered beforehand starting at 6 a.m. After each shoot, there will be an "Annie" tournament starting around 10:30 a.m. Lunch will be available for those staying for the "Annie" tournament. Also, on Jan. 1, a raffle will be conducted at 1 p.m. for a Kimber .45-caliber handgun.

The Elliott Amvets will hold Family Night meals on Jan. 4, Feb. 1, March 1, April 5 and May 3.

MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meets from 9 to 11 a.m. on the third Friday of each month at the Paxton Church of the Nazarene, 302 W. State St., Paxton. Meetings will be held Dec. 21, Jan. 18, Feb. 15, March 15, on a date to be determined in April and on May 17. Each meeting includes breakfast, crafts and discussion on relevant topics, with childcare provided. The group is open to mothers of all experience levels. Annual dues cost $31.95. To register, people can visit www.mops.org and type in code "KSIZ." For more information, people can contact Julie Foster at 618-304-4092.

Divorce Care sessions are being held at 6:30 p.m. each Monday at the Gibson City Bible Church, 309 N. Illinois 47, Gibson City. Divorce Care is a weekly seminar and support group that will help people heal from the hurt of a divorce or separation. Participants learn practical information and gain hope for the future. For more information, contact 217-784-5702 or visit www.gibsoncitybible.org.

Fisher Odd Fellows Lodge No. 704 meets at 7:30 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of each month at the Odd Fellow Hall, located at the corner of Sangamon and Third streets in downtown Fisher. Oddfellowship is a service organization dedicated to the betterment of mankind. Anyone interested in membership information may call 217-897-6544 or stop in at the Free Book Exchange, where pamphlets are available.

Celebrate Recovery sessions are being held at 6:15 p.m. on Thursdays at New Beginnings Christian Fellowship, 107 S. Sangamon Ave., Gibson City. Food and fellowship will be offered from 6:15 to 6:45 p.m., followed by worship from 6:45 to 7 p.m., a lesson from 7 to 7:30 p.m. and "open share" groups from 7:30 to 8 p.m. Childcare is available. For more information, call 217-784-8673.

Celebrate Recovery sessions are being held at 6 p.m. on Mondays at The Upper Room Bible Church, 455 W. Orleans St., Paxton. Food and fellowship will be offered from 6 to 6:30 p.m., followed by worship from 6:30 to 6:45 p.m., a lesson from 6:45 to 7:15 p.m. and "open share" groups from 7:15 to 7:45 p.m. Childcare is available. For more information, call 217-379-4189.

Yarns and Threads, a group of people who enjoy knitting, crocheting, quilting, embroidery and all other sewing crafts, is inviting members of the public to join the group for its meetings held every Tuesday from 6:30 to 8:15 p.m. at the Paxton Carnegie Library.

The Arrowsmith American Legion post is hosting a fried chicken, walleye and catfish fillet supper from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7. The meal is all-you-can-eat when dining in. Carryout orders are also available but are not all-you-can-eat. Children  under age 10 eat for free when dining in with a parent.

A retirement open house will be held from 3 to 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, at the Hoopeston Public Library, 110 N. Fourth St., to honor Carol Arnold for her 47-year career as the library’s children’s librarian.

The annual Madrigal Dinner will be presented by Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School’s Madrigal Singers at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, and 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at the Evangelical Covenant Church, 260 S. Union St., Paxton.

Santa’s Elf Patrol will stop by a number of area towns on Friday, Dec. 7; Saturday, Dec. 8, and Sunday, Dec. 9. During each stop, children will get to meet with Santa Claus, and each child will receive a bag of goodies. Santa’s Elf Patrol will visit Onarga from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7. On Saturday, Dec. 8, Santa and his elves will then visit Gibson City from 8 to 10:30 a.m., Melvin from noon to 1:30 p.m., Roberts from 1:45 to 3 p.m., Thawville from 3:30 to 5 p.m. and Gilman from 6 to 8 p.m. Stops on Sunday, Dec. 9, are in Danforth (10:30 a.m. to noon), Ashkum (1 to 2:30 p.m.) and Clifton (3:30 to 5:30 p.m.). "Each town will have a venue where Santa will visit and will be easily found by just showing up," a news release said. "Santa has a new set of wheels decorated with lights to music, and (he) will be led into town by a firetruck convoy."

A benefit/open house for Ken Hanford, who is battling cancer, is scheduled for noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at the Onarga Christian Church, 721 W. Seminary Ave., Onarga. Barbecue pork will be served for a free-will offering, and raffles will be held with the proceeds used to help cover Hanford’s medical costs at the Mayo Clinic.

The Paxton Park District’s annual Breakfast with Santa event is scheduled for 8 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at the Civic Center, 601 S. Fall St., Paxton. Santa will be on site, and a free breakfast will be served by park district officials.

Piper Pride NFP is holding a free-will-donation meal from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at the Piper City Community Building, 64 W. Peoria St., Piper City.  Pulled pork sandwiches, baked beans, chips, desserts and drinks will be provided. At 7 p.m., the winners of a cash raffle will be announced, and there will be a silent auction. Raffle tickets are still available.

Children and parents can shop for holiday gifts from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at the Central Illinois Connection Center, 404 E. Locust St., Chatsworth. Reservations are not required, and donations of any size will go toward Central Illinois Connection youth programs. 

The Other Guys, the University of Illinois’ premiere men’s a cappella group, will perform at 10 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, at the Paxton Federated Church, 221 W. Center St., Paxton. The public is invited to attend the performance.

Ludlow firefighters will hold their annual Christmas with Santa event from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, at the firehouse at 200 Chestnut St. in Ludlow. Lunch with Santa will be provided. Donations will be accepted. Children will be able to visit with the man in red, and all children will receive free bags of candy.

A Christmas Hymn Sing will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Buckley. The public is invited to attend the afternoon of Christmas carols and fellowship. Refreshments will be served. A free-will offering will be taken to defray the cost of future church organ repairs.

The Saybrook American Legion Post No. 427 is serving catfish, chicken or all-you-can-eat walleye from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, at the Saybrook American Legion Hall. The meal includes a choice of one of the three meats plus sides of baked beans, baked potato and coleslaw. Dine-in and carryout orders are available.

The Bellflower Country Opry will present its annual family country Christmas show at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, at the Bellflower Community Center, 104 W. Center St., Bellflower. The Bellflower Country Opry band will be featured, singing Christmas songs. The cost of admission is $10, with children ages 12 and under entering for free. A pre-show potluck dinner will be served beginning at 5 p.m.  Meat, table service and drinks will be furnished. There is no cost for the meal, but people are asked to bring a dish to share. For reservations or more information, people can call 309-722-3497 or 217-898-7493.

The Ford County Republican Central Committee will meet at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, at the Arcade Restaurant, 132 N. Market St., Paxton. Among items on the meeting’s agenda are a discussion about a "mega town-hall event," a 2018 election recap, a discussion about 2019 goals and priorities, and an update on news from Washington, D.C., and Springfield. The public is welcome to attend.

Santa Claus will be meeting with children from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, and again from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22, at the Santa Hut next to Majestic Park in downtown Paxton.

Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School’s "Get Involved, Value Everyone" Club is hosting a concert to benefit Ford County’s Toys for Tots program from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 307 W. Weldon St., Roberts. There will be Christmas music performed by community members as well as refreshments. Donations of toys and monetary donations will be accepted. Toys must new and unwrapped.

The Saybrook American Legion Auxiliary is holding its annual Cookie Walk at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, at the Saybrook American Legion Hall.  The group is also accepting monetary donations for fruit for the Danville VA hospital. Money from the cookie walk helps support Illini Girls State, scholarships and programs of the American Legion.

The Fisher Book Exchange will be open from 3 to 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 17, at the intersection of Third and Sangamon streets in downtown Fisher. A large variety of hard-cover  books are available and suitable for gift giving. The choice in soft cover is extensive, with subjects to cover many interests. There are also children’s books, coffee table books, as well as many puzzles to choose from. Sales help to support the book exchange.

The Paxton Evangelical Covenant Church at 260 S. Union St. in Paxton is hosting a free Christmas dinner from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 25. For more information or to arrange to have a ride to the church or a meal delivered to one’s home, people can call 217-379-3554 or 217-415-6376.

The American Lutheran Church at 905 E. First St. in Gibson City is hosting its 43rd annual Christmas Day Dinner at noon Tuesday, Dec. 25. The free meal includes turkey, ham, dressing, mashed potatoes with gravy, vegetables, desserts and beverages. A free-will offering will be received. No tickets are necessary; however, reservations are requested by Friday, Dec. 14, to ensure there is enough food.  To make a reservation, people can call the church office at 217-784-4841. People can also call the church office to arrange for home delivery if they are homebound and have no transportation. Callers should leave their name, the number in their party and a phone number. Those who are homebound should leave their address, and their meal will be delivered to them between noon and 2 p.m.