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Weekend Planner: Enjoy holiday events, help others

Families this weekend can visit with model railroad enthusiasts, buy cookies from Lioness members, give blood or visit two benefits.

The Newport Model Railroad Club invites families to visit during one of seven holiday open houses at 600 Seventh Ave. in Newport, Dec. 18 through Jan. 2. Holiday open houses are scheduled from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 18-20, Dec. 26, and Jan. 1-2. On Dec. 27, the time is 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. For details, visit

The Park-Port Lioness Club will be selling cookies, pies, breads--many gluten-free and diabetic-friendly--from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, at Norris Square Presbyterian Homes, 8200 Hadley Ave. in Cottage Grove. Cookies sell for $4 or $5 per dozen.

The New-Park Lions Club is sponsoring its first blood drive for Memorial Blood Centers from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 18, at Norris Square Presbyterian Home, 8200 Hadley Ave. in Cottage Grove. At the same time, members will collect winter coats, hats and mittens for Stone Soup Thrift Shop.

Cottage Grove residents Pat and Shannon Mahoney are hosting a pancake breakfast and bake sale from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 18, at Applebee's Bar and Grill in Cottage Grove to raise money for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure walk in August 2011. Tickets are $5. A wide assortment of cookies will sell at $2 per dozen.

Family and friends are hosting a spaghetti lunch benefit for Kris Nilsen, a lifelong resident of Cottage Grove, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 19, at the Cottage Grove VFW Red Barn. Tickets are $10 per adult and $5 per child, under 12.

Guest speaker Saira Sidi will discuss how diabetes patients can learn to become more active in their own care at the HealthEast diabetes support group which meets from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 21, at the South Washington Senior Center, 8400 East Point Douglas Road, in Cottage Grove.