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.

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.