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Donors and volunteers affiliated with Our Military Kids gave gifts to more than 120 children of injured service members across the country last month, helping to lighten those families’ financial burdens over the holidays.

Heading the project was Bob Nelson, a Great Falls Realtor, who founded the gift drive with Our Military Kids in 2009 to recognize the service and sacrifice of the nation’s wounded military families. Nelson — aka “Santa Bob” — recruited friends and business associates to serve as his “elves” by adopting a child or family.

“The families of our wounded service members make tremendous sacrifices for our freedom, and this is the least we can do to repay them,” Nelson said.

All of the children had previously received grants from Our Military Kids, a nonprofit that provides funding for children of severely injured service members and currently deployed National Guardsmen and Reservists. The grants pay for the children’s participation in activities such as sports, fine arts, camps and tutoring programs.

“These children go through so much with a parent recovering from injuries sustained while serving our country,” said Linda Davidson, executive director of Our Military Kids, “and while providing them with Christmas gifts is not part of our mission, we realize the difference it makes for the families.”

Nelson worked with Gloria Schaefer, a volunteer with Our Military Kids, to compile a list of children in need and their Christmas wish-lists.

Fairfax Realtors to help area PTAs

The Ed Lang Team, a real estate office with ReMax Premier in Fairfax, has announced that it will contribute up to $500 from each home sale in 2013 to the client’s local school PTA.

“We want to be a part of the great work our public schools do to provide an excellent platform for our students to become strong, knowledgeable and outstanding citizens of Northern Virginia,” Lang said. “We hope to set a standard, that through innovative ideas such as this, other local business will also seek to contribute and strengthen our highly acclaimed school systems here in Northern Virginia.”

For years the Ed Lang Team has supported the schools and communities through such events as Back to School Fair BBQ at Rocky Run Middle School, Annual Toys for Tots Movie Event and Earth Day Clean-up.

To learn more about this program, visit

Falls Church bank chooses children’s center

Wells Fargo has awarded a Community Partner Grant to the Falls Church-McLean Children’s Center, an award-winning preschool in Falls Church, to recognize the center’s dedication to young children.

Wells Fargo presented the $1,000 award to Kathy Banks, the center’s new executive director.

“In a time where there are still more than 3,000 children on a waiting list to receive child care assistance in Fairfax County, the support of our local business community is essential in providing quality early learning experiences for children, regardless of their family’s resources,” Banks said.

The Wells Fargo Community Partner Grant program allows the bank's employees to learn about needs in their communities and to respond directly with a grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation.

The Falls Church branch chose the Falls Church-McLean Children’s Center because it serves families year-round and helps children prepare for kindergarten and exceed learning expectations.

Founded in 1968 by members of 20 area faith groups, the children's center offers an affordable, high-quality early childhood education program. More than half of its spaces are reserved for children from low-income, working families in Fairfax County and Falls Church City.

Fairfax lawyers among ‘Legal Elite’

McCandlish & Lillard, a law firm with offices in Fairfax and Leesburg, has announced that Virginia Business magazine recognized 16 of the firm’s 24 attorneys as being among Virginia’s “Legal Elite” this year.

The “Legal Elite” designation is determined by a survey conducted with the Virginia Bar Association, which polls thousands of Virginia lawyers about whom they consider the very best in the Commonwealth in various practice categories.

The list was published in the magazine’s December edition. The attorneys recognized are as follows:

McCauley “Mac” Arnold, principal of the firm: Construction Law.

William Bethune, senior counsel: Business Law.

Gary Brown, principal and past chairman of the board of McCandlish & Lillard: Alternate Dispute Resolution.

John Farrell, principal: Real Estate/Land Use Law.

Anne Reilly Jones, principal: Legislative/Administrative/Regulatory Law.

Christopher Leins, associate attorney: Outstanding Young Lawyer (under 40).

Laura Golden Liff, associate attorney: Legal Services/Pro Bono.

Robert Loftus, principal: Bankruptcy/Creditors’ Rights.

Peyton Mahaffey, president, managing partner and a principal of the firm: Civil Litigation.

Robert McAllister III, senior counsel: Health Law.

Lawrence McClafferty, principal and member of the firm's Executive Committee: Labor and Employment Law.

Autumn McCullogh, associate attorney: Outstanding Young Lawyer (under 40).

Stephen Price, principal: Estates/Trusts/Elder Law.

Douglas Sanderson, principal: Family Law/Domestic Relations.

Adam Smith, principal: Appellate Law.

Ralph Tener, principal and chairman of the board of the firm: Intellectual Property. Tener also was recognized as the top Intellectual Property attorney profiled for the year.

Fairfax CPA elected to international board

Charles Helme of Thompson, Greenspon & Co. in Fairfax has been elected to CPAmerica International’s board of directors. CPAmerica International is a member-driven association of large independent accounting firms.

Thompson, Greenspon & Co., which has served the region for more than 50 years, is one of the metropolitan area's largest accounting firms, known for its expertise in the areas of construction, financial services, nonprofits and government contracting.

Home loan company opens in Reston

Guaranteed Rate, the country’s second largest independent home loan company, has opened its first area retail location at 1800 Alexander Bell Drive in Reston.

Founded in 2000, Guaranteed Rate has become one of the fastest growing, premier mortgage companies in the country. The Chicago-based company has more than 130 offices in 47 states and Washington, D.C. Andy Sikora, vice president of mortgage lending, will manage the Reston office.

“With a number of attractive financing options, we look forward to helping first-time homebuyers, move-up buyers and investors purchase their dream homes,” Sikora said.

Sikora, who lives in Reston, has more than 20 years of experience in the mortgage industry and is a former faculty member of the National Institute of Financial Education, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing unbiased consumer financial education.

New eatery serves breakfast in Chantilly

Award-winning First Watch, which serves breakfast, brunch and lunch, has opened a restaurant at 13027 Lee Jackson Memorial Highway, in the Greenbriar Town Center in Chantilly. This is the fourth First Watch to open in the metro area.

“We’re very excited to expand our presence in Virginia and the D.C. market,” said Chris Tomasso, chief marketing officer for First Watch.

A recipient of more than 200 “Best Of” accolades in markets across the country, First Watch features traditional favorites, including pancakes, omelets, salads and sandwiches, as well as signature specialties, such as the Chickichanga, Healthy Turkey Omelet and Fresh Fruit Crepes.

First Watch serves its entire menu seven days a week from 7 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. The restaurant also offers complimentary newspapers and free Wi-Fi.