Next week, we’ll celebrate one of the most beloved of family holidays.

Thanksgiving is the oldest special day to have originated in the U.S. Stemming from the feast held in the autumn of 1621 by the pilgrims and the Wampanoag to celebrate the colony’s first successful harvest, the last Thursday in November was officially declared a national holiday by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. We wish you and yours a festive and joyful day with your loved ones.

November is also National Family Stories Month. When considering everything that you’re grateful for this Thanksgiving, take time to acknowledge your ancestors for their drive and dedication that contributed you to being here today. Pass on stories of your unique family history to your younger generations.

I’m grateful for the wonderful volunteers I get to work with every day. Being able to coordinate the county’s volunteer services has been one of my greatest experiences. It’s been an honor to work with you and I thank you for your dedication to our communities.

Are you ready for all the holiday kickoffs, tree lightings and concerts that fill the season? Sharpen that pencil, your calendar is going to fill quickly.

Shenandoah’s Black Friday Christmas kickoff will take place on Nov. 29. Skydiving Santa will arrive at noon, followed by a holiday parade. Elves will do face painting. The tree lighting starts at 5:30 p.m. with horse-drawn trolley rides at 6 p.m. The Anthony P. Damato American Legion “Medal of Honor” Post will have cookies and hot chocolate and there will also be live Christmas music. It will be fun for the whole family.

The annual Ashland Christmas tree lighting begins on Nov. 30 with a Santa parade at 6 p.m. and tree lighting at 6:30. Children can visit with Santa and get a free treat. If that’s not enough, Christmas music will put all in the mood.

Mahanoy City will host a Christmas tree lighting at 5 p.m. Nov. 30. Santa will arrive in a horse-drawn carriage, carolers will perform and there will be horse-drawn trolley rides. There will also be a live nativity, crafts, food and beverages for purchase.

The Schuylkill Choral Society will perform Handel’s “Messiah” at 7 p.m. Dec. 7 at Grace Evangelical Congregational Church, Schuylkill Haven, and at 3 p.m. Dec. 8 at St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church, Pottsville. Tickets sell for $18 for adults and $12 for seniors and students. They can be purchased at the door, from any choir member or by calling 570-628-3388.

The Schuylkill County Council for the Arts presents the 11th annual Christkindlmarkt at the historic Yuengling Mansion at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 7 and 11 a.m. Dec. 8. Shop at more than 25 artisans and vendors who will be selling items ranging from wreaths and greens to hand-crafted soaps, pottery, jewelry, gourmet food, fine art and more, while enjoying the decorations throughout the mansion, grounds and carriage house.

Community Volunteers in Action is the volunteer center for Schuylkill County. Use the preceding contact information for those specific opportunities and search other listings on our website at Find us on Facebook. Call us at 570-628-1426 or email