In the spirit…Each year, the White House asks congressional offices to submit an ornament decorated by an artist from their state for the official White House Christmas tree. This year SENATOR CLAIRE MCCASKILL decided that Missouri will be represented with an ornament by St. Louis artist and Air Force veteran RICHARD JONES. Jones served in the Air Force Combat Security Police and later as a St. Louis police officer, during which time he was shot and wounded in the line of duty, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down. Following his injury, he took up art as a hobby. Jones and his wife were recently invited to see their creation on the White House tree and attend a party hosted by First Lady Laura Bush.

    When the Rockettes take the stage for the RADIO CITY CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR at the FOX THEATRE this week, former St. Louisan KARILYN ASHLEY SURRATT will be among them. Surratt has been a Rockette since 2005, and has performed in New York City and throughout the country. A graduate of ROSATI-KAIN HIGH SCHOOL, she studied dance locally at PELAGIE GREEN WREN ACADEMY OF DANCE, BALLET CONSERVATORY and COCA.

    A happy partnership…SITE MAN CANCER CENTER and THE WELLNESS COMMUNITY OF GREATER ST. LOUIS have entered a three-year partnership that will link patients more directly to the wealth of support services provided by The Wellness Community. The partnership is underwritten by a grant from the BARNES-JEWISH HOSPITAL FOUNDATION.

    Kudos to the DANFORTH FOUNDATION, which recently endowed the HOPE CENTER FOR NEUROLOGICAL DISORDERS at WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE with a $10 million gift for research. The grant will be used to study a range of conditions that cause injury and impairment to the brain and central nervous system, including ALS, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, Huntington’s disease, multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy.

    Saying thanks…THE ACADEMY OF CONTEMPORARY ARTS is hosting a Holiday Greeting Card Drive that will send homemade or decorated greeting cards to members of the military. Cards can be dropped off at any YMCA of Greater St. Louis through Dec. 21. Please leave cards with envelopes unsealed for security purposes. Cards will be sent overseas, to airport USO hosting traveling soldiers and to patients in military hospitals.

    A new face at HAVEN OF GRACE…MARISSA PAINE, MSW, has been named executive director of the organization that helps homeless pregnant women. Paine was formerly with St. Louis for Kids.

    Going green…COMMER CIAL LETTER INC., a local direct-marketing company, has earned FOREST STEWARDSHIP COUNCIL certification, which means that the paper and materials it uses in printing have a documented, chain of custody path from a responsible sustainable forest to the final product.

    THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF JEWISH WOMEN recently launched KIDS COMMUNITY CLOSET at Central Elementary School in the Ferguson-Florissant School District. The organization will stock the closet with basics such as coats, clothing, school supplies and personal care items to provide these basic essentials to students at no cost so that they can concentrate on staying in school and getting an education.

    NYU sophomore JEREMY CROPF (Ladue High ’07) is presenting a local screening of his first feature-length action drama, The Disk: Code Zero, which was filmed in and around St. Louis. The screening will be Dec. 28 at 7 p.m. at the Tivoli. One of the film’s producers, ALEX SHIRLEY, is also a Ladue High alum.

    The MISSOURI HUMANITIES COUNCIL annually celebrates the accomplishments of organizations that have made exceptional contributions to understanding Missouri, its people and its stories. This year it recognized KETC/CHANNEL 9 with a Community Heritage Award for “Your Stories: St. Louis Remembers World War II,” a community engagement initiative for which the station gathered personal stories of St. Louisans from the WWII years.

    Kudos to 13-year-old LADUE MIDDLE SCHOOL student SAMANTHA SHANKER, who teamed with her aunt, MARSHA SHANKER, a hospice volunteer, to provide fleece blankets and cheerful cards for BJC Hospice patients. The two are reaching out to schools, religious groups and Scouting organizations to make comforting cards for the patients.