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South Washington County Weekend Planner: Holiday Train and more

South Washington County families can have fun and help needy neighbors at the same time this weekend.

The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train will roll into Cottage Grove between 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 11, near the Youth Service Bureau just south of the 80th Street overpass on West Point Douglas Road. Prior to and during the train's visit, Santa Claus will visit with kids and local businesses will provide hot beverages and cookies. All donations--cash and toiletry items--will be given to the Friends in Need Food Shelf in St. Paul Park.

A free Christmas party for all area kids is planned from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, at American Legion Post 98, 328 Broadway Ave. in St. Paul Park. The party is co-sponsored by members of the Legion, the St. Croix Valley Riders motorcycle club and St. Paul Park volunteer firemen. Activities will include photos with Santa--on or by his motorcycle--treats, fire truck rides, games and snacks.

The New-Park Lions Club is hosting its second blood drive from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, at 445 Broadway Ave. in St. Paul Park. The club goal is to fill all 42 donation time slots this year.

Bakers at Rose of Sharon Lutheran Church, 6875 Jamaica Ave. in Cottage Grove are hosting their "Christmas for the Community Bake Sale" from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Dec. 10, at the church.

Browsers may choose from a wide variety of homemade cookies at $2.50 per dozen with no limits on the amount purchased. Take your own container or buy one from the church for 50 cents.

Other baked goods will be available and Santa Claus will be at the church to welcome visitors.

Children, 3 years old through second grade, together with siblings, parents and grandparents, are invited to a "Birthday Party for Jesus," from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, at St. Andrew's Lutheran Church, 1000 Portland Ave. in St. Paul Park. Children will hear the Christmas story, have a snack and receive a favor. Admission is $3. All are welcome.

The Valley Creek Mall, 1750 Weir Drive in Woodbury, will have live reindeer for children to see from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10. Santa will be at the mall from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 10. If you go, take a camera.

Animal Ark, the no-kill shelter at 2600 Industrial Court in Hastings, invites families to a Christmas party from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday Dec. 10.There will be treats for dogs, cats and people. The event is free and donations will be accepted, including canned dog and cat food, paper towels, cat beds, squeaky toys and non-scoopable cat litter.