Screenshot from Deeplocal YouTube video.

We started this catch-all column called ETC for quick-hit news to keep you in the know. Got a news tip? Email us.

Pittsburgh Omega Christmas Toy Giveaway outside Rivers Casino

The Iota Phi Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. will hold a drive-through toy pickup event outside of Rivers Casino on Dec. 19 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Children in need will receive toys, books, art sets, Adidas apparel (while supplies last) and a visit from Soulful Santa. Families will stay in their cars, and loop around the portico where volunteers will bring them a bundle of donated gifts.

Richard King Mellon Foundation grant to fund cold storage vaccines

The Richard King Mellon Foundation awarded a third round of Covid grants totaling nearly $8.5 million, including $250,000 to UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh to acquire the cold storage systems required to distribute and administer the vaccine. The medical facility is one of the first sites in the country to administer the vaccine, which must be kept at minus 70 degrees Celsius. Overall, in 2020, the foundation gave $33 million — an amount equivalent to more than 25 percent of its annual giving fund — to fight Covid and its impacts.

TABLE Magazine’s Food Service Emergency Fund

TABLE Magazine has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise emergency funds for employees in the service industry. Contributions to the GoFundMe page will be gifted to verified applicants in the restaurant field. Applicants can enroll on a rolling basis through an online form and will receive $150 per person until the fund is depleted. TABLE will also will donate all subscription revenue to the fund through Jan. 31, 2021.

A classic tradition, with a 2020 twist

Deeplocal, a Pittsburgh-based creative technology and experience design agency, created a pair of mistletoe to connect distant friends and family during the socially distant holiday season. Hang your Connected Mistletoe in your home for festive vibes. Invite your loved one to do the same at their home. Stand underneath yours, and your loved one’s mistletoe will glow and ring. Stand underneath them at the same time for a connection jingle.

Animals Friends’ Holiday Pet Food Donation Drive

On Dec. 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Animal Friends will host a pet food and supply donation drive at its shelter at 562 Camp Horne Rd. in Ohio Township and at Workshop Pittsburgh at 5131 Penn Ave. in Bloomfield. Staff and volunteers will wear face masks and people dropping off items are asked to do the same. People who prefer a no-contact drop-off can stay in their vehicle while team members collect items from the backseat or trunk of the car. Monetary donations can also be made online and via Animal Friends’ Amazon Wish List.

RMU part of national head trauma study

Rika Carlsen, an associate professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering at Robert Morris University, is one of the scientists taking part in the PANTHER program, a three-year, $10 million national research project to reduce traumatic brain injuries that’s funded by the U.S. Office of Naval Research. The university, which is one of eight colleges involved with the project, is expected to receive $750,000 in federal grant money. It will fund Carlsen’s research and the hiring of two post-doctoral researchers with expertise in computational modeling to assist her starting in January.

Photo by Paul g. Wiegman.

Phipps’ virtual Winter Flower Show

A virtual version of the Winter Flower Show at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is now available for purchase for unlimited on-demand viewing across platforms. The 25-minute tour contains a music-only version and an alternate cut with behind-the-scenes commentary from Phipps staff members.

Richard King Mellon Foundation helping low-income students attend college

The Richard King Mellon Foundation has made a $2 million investment in Sixup, an online lending platform designed to help high-achieving students from low-income families throughout southwestern PA attend top-tier schools. Based in San Francisco, Sixup provides responsible, affordable loans to students with a minimum high school GPA of 3.0 or better who have been admitted to, or are attending, four-year nonprofit colleges and universities, but who, even after institutional and governmental financial aid, still face prohibitive financial gaps between $5,000 and $15,000 per year.

Photo courtesy of Mancini’s Bakery.
Photo courtesy of Mancini’s Bakery.

Visit Mancini’s Bakery bread tree

Mancini’s Bakery is celebrating the season with a holiday display that includes a 6-foot-tall Christmas tree made of bread. The carbohydrate conifer will be revealed on Dec. 18 at 601 Woodward Ave. in McKees Rocks during regular business hours. Patrons can snap a selfie with the tree, along with Mancini’s vintage bread truck.

“Things may be different this year, but we’re still feeling festive,” co-owner Nick Mancini says. “We realize our customers will be waiting in line outside for Mancini’s to complete the table at Christmastime, and we want to extend that holiday cheer by making something really special to see.”

Chef Kevin Sousa’s making New Year’s Day dinner

Chef Kevin Sousa of Superior Motors wants you to start 2021 with a full belly. He’s preparing traditional New Year’s Day meals featuring pork, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes and gravy. The $100 package serves four people. Pre-orders can be made via email and must be received by Dec. 26. Pickup is at Superior Motors in Braddock on Jan. 1 from 2 to 3 p.m.

Photo courtesy of the University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development.

Pitt book drive aims to raise antiracist readers

Through the end of the year, the University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development is collecting donations for its annual book drive, Books for Change. Launched in 2018 as a response to the Tree of Life tragedy, the project has collected and distributed nearly 4,000 tomes to schools and child care facilities throughout the region. The theme for 2020’s book drive is Raising Antiracist Readers. Donors can purchase suggested books directly from City of Asylum’s online bookstore and Pitt staff members will handle the rest.

Trace Brewing opens for to-go beer sales

Beer is finally flowing at Trace Brewing in Bloomfield. Carryout sales will be offered from 2 to 7 p.m. Dec. 17-18, noon to 5 p.m. Dec. 19-20 and 2 to 7 p.m. Dec. 21-23. The online ordering site goes live on Thursday morning. Curbside pickup is available and walkups are welcome as long as you wear a mask and pay via credit card. In addition to beer, you can pick up apparel, glassware, stickers and gift cards.

S&T Bank Muisc Park changes its name again

You can attend a concert at Star Lake this summer! The Burgettstown venue, which opened in 1990 as Coca-Cola Star Lake Amphitheater and has had many monikers over the decades, has once again changed its name to The Pavilion at Star Lake. Dave Matthews Band will be the first to perform at the newly christened site on June 12, 2021.

Photo courtesy of boxd.

Commonplace Coffee teams up with boxd to making working from home easier

Pittsburgh-based boxd, a company that delivers packages of home office products to your door, is now including Commonplace Coffee in one of its offerings. Dubbed the Entrepreneur, the bundle includes 12 ounces of fresh coffee, an ergonomic laptop stand, ring light, smart beverage warmer and a portable AeroPress coffee brewing system.

“We realized not everyone was equipped for working from home when the pandemic started, and this could be detrimental to your professional brand as your virtual image became your only image,” says Marty Bacik, co-founder of boxd.

Volunteers needed to assemble personal care kits for families in need

Global Links, a medical relief and development organization dedicated to supporting health improvement initiatives in resource-poor communities, needs volunteers to assemble care kits containing personal hygiene items which are not covered by SNAP benefits. Participants can register online, where they will find instructions for assembling the packages and drop-off procedures.

Pine Creek Public House opening soon in Allison Park

Pine Creek Public House, a new venture from the owners of Kretzler’s Tavern in Ross Township, will open in the spring in Allison Park Plaza. The space, formerly Thirsty’s Bar & Grill, will feature an open-air dining environment and a new food and drink menu.

Driftwood Oven looks to upgrade pizza shop

Lawrenceville’s Driftwood Oven recently launched a Honeycomb campaign to raise funds for upgrades to the sourdough pizzeria and bakery at 3615 Butler Street. In addition to renovations to the main dining room, chef and owner Neil Blazin, a James Beard semifinalist, is looking to purchase new equipment, including a double-stack convection oven, spiral mixer and new point-of-sale system. You can see all of the details of the campaign online.

Watch two new movies filmed in Pittsburgh

Lights! Camera! Pittsburgh! The City of Champions gets the Hollywood treatment in two new films. “Happiest Season,” a holiday rom-com starring Kristen Stewart and Dan Levy, is streaming on Hulu. In the crime drama “I’m Your Woman,” Rachel Brosnahan plays a woman who is forced to go into hiding with her baby to escape the violent business partners her husband betrayed. You can watch it on Amazon Prime.

Community feedback meeting on Arsenal Park Master Plan

Arsenal Park in Lawrenceville is about to undergo some big changes. A master plan for the recreation area was completed in 2015 after an extensive community engagement process. Now more feedback is needed for the project’s implementation. The public is invited to view concepts beforehand and participate in a Zoom meeting and phone conference on Dec. 17 from 5 to 7 p.m. Register online or by contacting Lawrenceville United at 412-802-7220.

Pittsburgh Cultural Trust looking forward to 2021

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust anticipates the return of live Broadway programming as part of its PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh series in the fall of 2021. Subscriptions for the seven-show package are on sale now for new ticket buyers. Current season ticket holders will be given priority and their seats will automatically be moved into the new show dates. Shows include: “Hadestown” (Sept. 7-12), “Pretty Woman: The Musical” (Oct. 26-31), “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical” (Nov. 16-21), “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!” (Jan. 4-9, 2022), “Hamilton” (Feb. 22-March 13, 2022), ““To Kill A Mockingbird” (April 19-24, 2022) and “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations” (May 17-22, 2022).

Hilltop Coffee opens Dec. 12

Grab a cup of joe to go when Hilltop Coffee opens Dec. 12 at 2400 Arlington Ave. in the South Side Slopes. The café is only the second business established in the area in 20 years. Operating hours are 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Photo courtesy of D.S. Kinsel.

Self-guided art tour featuring work from Black and femme artists

Jaunt, a self-guided, socially distanced public art tour by artist D.S. Kinsel, features a series of free postcards to color. Artist Maggie Negrete created black-and-white line drawings of artwork such as Thad Mosley’s “Mountaintop,” Deavron Dailey’s “The Arms of East Liberty” and Janel Young’s “Home Court Advantage.” You’re invited to visit the locations depicted and learn more about the contributions the artists have made to Pittsburgh’s culture. The postcards are available at the following locations based on their operating hours: BOOM Concepts, 5139 Penn Ave.; Small Mall, 5300 Butler Street; CDCP Project Space and Small Mall Outpost, 317 S. Trenton Ave.; Ujamaa Collective, 1901 Centre Ave.; and People’s Grocery, 5136 Penn Ave.

Reimagination: The Teen Recording Project that Rocks

For the eighth consecutive year, WYEP is connecting teen musicians with professional mentors to record and produce their own original music. Applications will be accepted online through Jan. 1, 2021. Selected musicians  will work with a team of producers and musicians led by Greg Joseph of The Clarks. They will receive studio time at the Church Recording Studio and The Lighthouse Project to record and produce their track on the cohort’s compilation album, released by WYEP.

Photo courtesy of Scarf Bombardiers.

Scarf Bombardiers hit Pittsburgh

Volunteers will be out throughout the week tying free scarves to fences, railings and poles throughout the Pittsburgh region. Take one for yourself or give it as a gift to warm someone else’s heart through the long, cold winter. Interested in joining the organization? Visit their Facebook page.

Allegro Hearth Bakery

Squirrel Hill’s Allegro Hearth Bakery, which closed earlier this year, is back as an all-vegan business. Tentative hours for December 10-13 are 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Owner Omar Abuhejleh, who also runs B52 in Lawrenceville, is now offering plant-based cookies, croissants, pastries and breads. The new business model will roll out in phases. Abuhejleh eventually plans to open the Murray Avenue storefront six days a week and will introduce sandwiches, soups and salads to the menu and offer online ordering and residential delivery. See their Facebook page for details.

Rendering courtesy of Jasmine Nyree Campus.

Employment center open at Jasmine Nyree Campus in Sheraden

The Jasmine Nyree Campus in Sheraden recently opened its Neighborhood Employment Center. In addition to providing job opportunities, the center will offer educational training resources to residents of the West End and other people in the region facing barriers to financial success.

“The Neighborhood Employment Center is just one of the many services we will provide that will make an economic impact in vulnerable and underserved communities,” says Christy Porter, CEO and founder. “We believe in the power of investing in communities, providing resources and creating career opportunities for all individuals to promote economic mobility.” Learn more about the Jasmine Nyree Campus project here.

Photo courtesy of Over the Bar Bicycle Cafe.

Over the Bar Bicycle Cafe Hastings now open

OTB is on a roll. The bike-themed restaurant chain’s third location opened today at 1595 Mayview Road in South Fayette. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

NearBuy to support local businesses is back

Near Buy is back with new partners and larger matches. Now through June 2021, mention Quantum Theatre when you order from Black Radish Kitchen, Bae Bae’s Kitchen, Everday Cafe and Yuzu Kitchen, and your purchase will be matched as gift certificates distributed to neighbors experiencing food insecurity.

Kristy Locklin is a North Hills-based writer. When she's not busy reporting, she enjoys watching horror movies and exploring Pittsburgh's craft beer scene.