Good News Blog


Friday, May. 30, 2008

Angel Food Ministries Offering Summer Food Relief for Citizens

Soaring food prices don’t have to blow your budget this summer, a national nonprofit operating with 10 host sites locally can help. They’re offering boxes of food for just $30 dollars.

“All of our budgets are getting tighter,” Janet Taylor, a volunteer for Angel Food Ministries for the Christian Church of Midland, said. Taylor helped bring the program to the Basin last year and says she expects more growth this summer.

“I already think we’re seeing more interest in Angel Foods after seeing gas prices rise, and food prices rise,” she said.

“You’re getting so many things in that basic unit, that it really pays for itself,” Kathleen Wilkins, who says she ordered for her family, said.

Despite rising diesel costs, the organization is doing everything they can not to raise rates.

“They are planning to make good use of their trucks, and wise use of their money, and plan their routes to make the best use of their fuel,” Taylor said.

According to Taylor, you do not have to qualify, and you can place as many orders as you like. The organizaiton takes cash, check, lone star cards, and food stamps.

Bill Cosby Donates Famous Sweaters For Children’s Charity

Seems like these days everyone’s selling the clothes off their back to help raise a little extra loot for the good stuff! Yesterday Ecorazzi told you that Kim Kardashian and Victoria Beckham were both giving up their threads for the sake of charity, and now it looks like Mr. Jello Pudding himself is going topless too.

Bill Cosby is teaming up with Auction Cause to get rid of a few of his famous sweaters on eBay from June 2-12th! All of the proceeds will go directly to the Hello Friend/Ennis William Cosby Foundation charity — a non-profit educational organization started by the Cosby family in 1997 after the murder of Ennis Cosby, Bill’s son.

The idea for an auction came from Cosby’s daughter, Evin, who said, “My mother and father were going through a storage closet, and I happened to be there and pounced on these sweaters. I told them that the price of what some of these sweaters might sell for could make a big difference in the lives of thousands of children.”

Here’s an idea: buy a pair of Kim Kardashians pants, a top from Victoria Beckham and a Bill Cosby sweater. Now that’s hot!

7-Year-Old Diabetic Girl Donates Hair To Locks Of Love

An East Texas girl decided that other people’s needs are greater than her own. So, she’s got a hair cut, and not just any hair cut.

7 year-old Shadda Botkin is donating ten inches of her long and beautiful hair to Locks of Love. The idea came from a hospital visit. Shadda was diagnosed with diabetes at age 5. Recently, she went for a check-up at the Children’s Medical Center in Dallas. She says what she saw at the hospital made her want to share her hair to give to someone else.

“I chose to cut my hair because I saw somebody who didn’t have hair and they had cancer. I hope that they grow their own hair, and they have money to get their surgery,” said Shadda Botkin.

Shadda’s Dad says he might miss his little girl’s hair, but he is very proud of her.

Thursday, May. 29, 2008

Little girl with long hair has big heart

Emma Benavides wanted to help people who lost their hair due to cancer treatments. This is not unusual according to the Locks of Love Web site, which states that it is an estimated 80 percent of all donations come from children who wish to help other children.

Emma, age 5, is the daughter of Robert and Krista Benavides and granddaughter of Tom and Sandra Duffee, all of Kingwood.

Emma’s grandmother, Joan Hart, of Corpus Christi, was diagnosed with stage 3-B lung cancer in July 2007. While Hart was in Houston undergoing cancer treatments, the family explained to Emma that some cancer treatments cause people to lose their hair. The Benavides family learned about Locks of Love, a nonprofit organization, from an information packet supplied by M.D. Anderson Hospital.

Emma wanted to help. Emma’s hair at the time had never been cut and hung well below her waist. Emma’s mother and grandmother made plans to schedule Emma’s very first haircut on her fifth birthday in early April. She wanted to donate her hair to Locks of Love in honor of her grandmother.

Hart did not live to see her little granddaughter make her donation; Hart passed away March 30, 2008. Twelve inches of Emma’s hair was cut on April 8. The salon did not charge for the haircut after learning of Emma’s plans.

On May 6, Emma’s mother also cut and donated her hair to Locks of Love in memory of her mother.

“When you hear about these organizations, at the time you think, oh, what a great cause, but you generally don’t do anything about it until it affects you personally,” said Benavides.

The Locks of Love Web site explains how anyone can make a donation for this worthy cause. For example, donated hair cannot be bleached and must be a minimum of 10 inches in length. Donations from people of all races, all ages, male and female, are needed.

People can donate simply by informing their hair stylist that they want to donate to Locks of Love. The stylist will separate the hair into ponytails, cut it, and give it back to be mailed by the donor to Locks of Love.

Run benefits Shop With a Cop program

Estero High School sophomore Erick Montoya took top honors at the Cape Cops 5K Run and Walk at the Yacht Club in Cape Coral this morning.

Montoya finished the course in 16:26. Fort Myers resident Tiffany Chartier crossed the line in 18:45.

The course starts on pavement near the Tony Rotino Center and finishes on the Yacht Club beach.

Organizer Rachel Arotsky said the race, in its third year, ran soothly.

“We had not one problem,” she said.

Proceeds from the run benefit the Shop With a Cop program, which pairs city police officers with children for holiday shopping. Arotsky said more than 300 runners and walkers finished the race in sunny and humid conditions.

Friday, May. 16, 2008

Charity creates line at the pump

With motorists paying nearly $4 a gallon for gasoline, many residents are having a hard time taking care of their families and paying for gas to drive to and from work. A Wilmington church decided to provide some help for those families and others by following Jesus’ philosophy — Give and it shall be given unto you.

The Bible Baptist Church of Wilmington sponsored a gas buy-down Saturday at J & D Corner Market on U.S. 22 and 3 at Sligo.

“We partnered with the gas station here and we’re lowering the price of gasoline 40 cents a gallon from 10 a.m. to noon only,” said Pastor Kelley McInerney Saturday morning. “We’re picking up the cost of that 40 cents a gallon so the store owner is not out anything.”

McInerney continued, “With the high prices of gas and the way it’s crunching everybody’s budgets, we thought this was a very tangible way that we could show the love of Christ to people by giving.”

When the promotion began at 10 a.m. Saturday, J & D’s lot was full and vehicles were backed up in both directions on U.S. 22. Two sheriff’s deputies took care of traffic control on the highway and members of the church assisted with traffic control on the lot, guiding motorists to the pumps and out of the lot by way of the back of the building.

“Our church philosophy is not to take but to give so this is a way we can make a difference in a lot of people’s lives,” McInerney said. “Our deacons are working the pumps and we’re handing out free bottles of water and popcorn and we’re offering to wash windshields for folks.”

Customers driving anything from a small Jeep to a Hummer took advantage of the cut in price for the gasoline. Many brought gas containers to be filled as well.

One customer, who identified herself as Debbie, was excited after filling up her Suburban. “I have never filled up before and it was right to the penny — it was $100 and it (pump) shut off,” she said as she showed her receipt from the pump. “It’s (price of gas) just about breaking us right now.”

Jim Keeton, owner of J & D Corner Market said a total of 2,757 gallons of gasoline was sold during the two hours. Cost of the gasoline to the church was $1,102.80.

“It was very successful,” Keeton said. “They (Bible Baptist) had a wonderful turnout. It went really smooth. We get a lot of regular customers from Bible Baptist Church and we were happy to do this for the community. And we’re hoping we’ll gain some new customers out of this.”

At noon there were still six or eight cars on the lot, Keeton said.

“I would encourage other churches to take that admonition of the Lord and believe it — Give and It Shall be Given,” McInerney said. “And this is just a real practical way — especially with the high gas prices — that people can realize, ‘Hey, there’s people who care and they’re trying to help us.’ It’s a great outreach.”

Pastor McInerney said he has heard of gas buy-downs across the country. “We’ve never seen one in our area so we thought we would be the first to try it. We appreciate Jim Keeton letting us partner with him and providing his facility to us and letting us do this work. It’s a community thing.”

McInerney and members of the church also promoted Friend Day on May 18 at the Clinton County Fairground. The theme for Friend Day is, ‘You have a friend at Bible Baptist Church.’ “We’re also giving out tickets to our Friend Day, our big pig roast dinner next Sunday at the fairground. We reserved the whole fairgrounds, the grandstand and all the buildings and we’re having a gospel concert with the Hoppers, a national gospel group. We’re having the free pig roast, beef and chicken dinner. It’s all free after the concert. It’s our biggest annual event that we do. There’ll be things for the kids and gifts for everybody. It kind of coincides with our anniversary of celebration.”

Last year, over 1,700 people attended Friend Day. “Last year was a record. We’re thinking we may break that this year, especially if the weather’s nice,” McInerney said. “Our church supplies all the beef, pork and chicken. Every one of our families brings a dessert and some ladies sign up for the vegetables and potato salad and things like that. But the guests don’t have to bring anything.”

Thursday, May. 15, 2008

Grandmas to the rescue – Elderly aid Jamaica’s paediatric HIV treatment

From her perch on the veranda, she kneads a lump of flour into submission. The bright red plastic bowl in which it is being pummelled is lost in the folds of her floral skirt.

Maudis making dinner for herself and Sherise, her six-year-old granddaughter, living with HIV. Maud has been caring for Sherise since her mother died, when the child was only a year old.

Little Sherise runs and plays briskly in an open area in front of the house under the watchful eyes of her grandmother. Her doting grandmother is not surprised by her level of energy. She was told by the doctor about a month ago that tests have showed that HIV was undetectable in Sherise. It is a development which Sherise’s paediatrician, Dr Tracy Evans-Gilbert, attributes to the fact that Maud has always obeyed her instructions to give her granddaughter her antiretrovirals consistently at the same time each day. Maud, on the other hand, believes that God has healed Sherise.

Maud is one of persons who take care of their HIV-positive grandchildren and great-grandchildren in several small, mainly rural communities in western Jamaica.

The group is part of a programme specially instituted to improve the treatment outcome of children living with HIV. The programme also includes fathers, aunts, uncles and other relatives who provide a support network for 63 children living with HIV in western Jamaica and attend the Cornwall Regional Hospital’s paediatric clinic regularly. Fifty-four of the children are part of a treatment adherence programme which has yielded good results.

The burden of care for many children living with and affected by AIDS often falls on female family members such as aunts, grandmothers and great grandmothers, who are often very old.

Dr Evans-Gilbert says some mothers are dying very young, many in their early 20s. Maud’s daughter-in-law died at age 24.

Close to 45 per cent of Jamaican households are headed by women. Female unemployment levels are higher than those among males. Jobs available to unskilled women are often irregular and pay low wages and so female-headed households are more vulnerable to economic hardship. The situation worsens for elderly females.

Despite the challenges facing women in the HIV epidemic, it is women who play a key role in Dr Evans-Gilbert’s paediatric programme in western Jamaica. The nine grandmothers and great-grandmothers assist her in getting the best outcome for their charges. She depends on them to ensure the children take their medication on schedule.

“Children whose caregivers miss doses or don’t give it to them on time don’t do well, but children whose caregivers are vigilant have undetectable levels of HIV and get healthy.”

All five children who are part of the adherence study and who have undetectable levels of HIV in their blood streams are cared for by either their grandmothers or great-grandmothers.

Several communities away, Ethel, the 76-year-old great-grandmother of another HIV-positive pre-schooler, five-year-old Alecia, endures a gruelling treatment regimen for the child. Alecia was diagnosed with HIV shortly after her mother’s death when Ethel took her to the doctor for a persistent cough. She was placed on antiretrovirals (ARVs) immediately and now the levels of HIV in her blood are almost undetectable.

“Sometimes mi nuh sleep! Sometimes me only get just one nap a sleep before me have to get up to give her something to eat before she get her medication,” Ethel said in broken English.

Social worker, Gail Reid, daily treks to the remote communities where the children live with their grandparents. She tells the story of a grandmother with very bad eyesight, who is assisted by an understanding neighbour in giving an HIV positive toddler her medication.

In another community, a grieving grandmother, fearful of being stigmatised, still tells neighbours that her daughter, who succumbed to AIDS-related illnesses leaving a little girl, who is now four years old, died because she was slapped by a ghost.

In one case, an elderly grandmother has become progressively senile. Often it is her HIV-positive six-year-old grandson who ends up caring for her.

“Many times he has to be up and about looking for her as she will just wander off if he is asleep,” Reid reveals.

Evans-Gilbert says that sometimes children whose grandparents or great-grandparents cannot administer the medication on time due to health or other challenges are not placed on ARVs.

“For example, we delayed treatment in a child who lived with a grandmother as she could not see and read instructions on the medication and therefore would not have been able to administer the drug properly,” she explained.

In addition to some physical and medical challenges, the grandmothers have difficulties finding money to feed their young charges and pay for transportation to take them to clinic and collect their medication.

Students’ hard work pays off for charity

Grieving Children at Seasons Centre will be receiving a sizable donation thanks to the hard work of two Barrie North Collegiate students.

Ronnie Hoffman and Emma Camisso earned the charity a $5,000 donation from the Toskan Casale Foundation Youth and Philanthropy Initiative.

The initiative encourages students to research and get involved with charity organizations and rewards top projects with donations to their charities.

Amy Brandon, a special education teacher and gifted program co-ordinator at Barrie North Collegiate, said the initiative is a great way to open students’ minds.

“It makes the students more community minded and learn how they can help these charities,” she said. “I think (it is) the fact that it is tangible. The fact that they can say ‘wow, I am actually giving $5,000 to a charity,’ makes it important.”

Although many Simcoe County schools are involved with the program, this was North’s first time taking part.

Students first made presentations in their classes.

The top group from each class was nominated to present to judges.

Six presentations were made on the Grieving Children at Seasons Centre, The Achimota Centre for Children with Autism, the Barrie Literacy Council, and the Barrie Pregnancy Resource Centre.

All presentations included a history of the charity and explained what the charity does.

Students also had to say what the $5,000 would be used for if the charity were to receive it.

Presentations included videos, slide shows, interviews, photos and interactive activities.

One group, presenting on the Barrie Literacy Council, even had judges try and read a menu written in Russian, to show how an illiterate person feels.

Following the cheque presentation, Camisso said it felt good to help out the centre.

“It’s (the centre) important because it helps people like us,” she said. “If someone were to die in our lives we could go there and get help.”

Hoffman said he enjoyed the entire experience of the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative.

“It was a great time. We learned a lot,” he said. “I hope they do it again next year.”

Wednesday, May. 14, 2008

Police trade blue uniforms for blue jeans

Delta police officers pulled on pairs of blue jeans to raise awareness for breast cancer research.

Police department staff and volunteers paid $5 to trade in their uniform pants for jeans for the CURE Foundation’s National Denim Day.

“Unfortunately there are far too many who have been directly or indirectly impacted by cancer, our staff and volunteers included,” said Chief Jim Cessford in a press release. “I believe it is important that we demonstrate our support for those courageously fighting this battle and if we can do that by wearing jeans for a day, then I am all for it.”

Said Cst. Sharlene Brooks in the release, “If you have interaction with the Delta Police on May 13 2008, expect them to be in jeans with their regular issued uniform shirts accessorized with a pink ribbon. These are in fact real police officers.”

If the community would like to donate to the CURE Foundation for breast cancer research, ribbons are for sale at police headquarters in Ladner, or donations can be made at community police stations. Brooks asked that people not offer donations directly to officers.

Girls surrender hair for Locks of Love

Deepa Patel was “freaking out” in the last few minutes of her school day at Mason Middle School May 12.

“Oh my God, it’s going to be gone in a few minutes,” she said.

“It” would be Patel’s hair, and she was one of 13 girls at the school who resolved to donate eight, 10 or more inches of their cascading hair to Locks of Love and Beautiful Lengths, nonprofit groups dedicated to providing hairpieces to disadvantaged patients of cancer and other medical conditions resulting in long-term hair loss.

Monday’s “Cut for the Cause” was a culmination of a school year of hair growing.

Mason Middle’s CSI club – Christian Students Involved – started the year by asking girls at the school to grow their hair out until May to donate for the hairpieces, which can cost more than $1,000 and take eight ponytails of eight to 10 inches in length to make.

“So many people are affected by cancer,” said Rebecca Stewart, president of the student group. “It was really just something we wanted to do.”

Stylists from Intuition Salon in Mason donated their services for the haircuts, lining up the girls in the middle school’s cafeteria, placing their hair in elastic bands and snipping the hair.

“I feel really good,” Patel said afterwards, sporting a new bob. “The hair will grow back, and it’s for a good cause.”

Sisters Megan and Lauren Rose had not yet gotten their hair cut.

They both said they were nervous, but were resolute in going forward, because they were getting their hair cut in honor of Leo Johnson, a friend who died last year of cancer at age 13.

“We really wanted to do something for him,” Megan said.

Added Lauren: “I think he would be proud.”

Police officers race for a great cause

Dozens of police officers were running through the streets of Cape Coral on Saturday.

It was all part of the “Cape Cops 5K Race” to benefit the “Shop With A Cop” program.

About 300 runners participated in the 3rd annual event.

The goal was to raise $3,000 to help underpriveledged children buy gifts this holiday season.

Tuesday, May. 13, 2008

Mum’s shoe-per idea for heroes

ARMED force personnel serving far away from home and family are often without creature comforts.
The arrival of post is always a highlight, but, for some brave troops, being without a family means they don’t receive any morale boosting treats.

Inspired after hearing from her son, who is in the Royal Anglian Regiment, how the soldiers share their parcels with those who haven’t got anything, Werrington mother Gloria Aschettino was moved to start an appeal to help make up parcels of goodies for soldiers.

Mrs Aschettino said: “The paras don’t have access to the base camp, and my son said getting stuff sent through to them made a real difference. I received a letter from my son and the lads saying thank you after they heard about us setting up the appeal.

“The response from everyone has been mind-blowing.”

With son Liam (18) currently away on active service and her eldest son Guiseppe (22) also having served in the armed forces, it is an appeal close to Mrs Aschettino’s heart

The “Peterborough Supports Our Heroes” campaign puts together boxes containing anything from socks and sweets, to DVDs and magazines, along with essentials such as razors.

Even Peterborough United have got behind the appeal, and Posh have offered the signed shirts and memorabilia from the upcoming friendly against Manchester United.

These goodies will then be whisked back to The Dragon pub, in Werrington, for a one-off auction to further boost the coffers.

Landlord of the pub Janek Skutela is looking after the shoeboxes for the charity after getting involved because the Aschettinos are regular customers.

“Its great to be able to support our troops overseas by sending them bits and pieces which they can’t get. We will be holding another fund-raising event for the charity in August.”

Kind-hearted residents at Martin Court in Werrington also joined in the action by collecting 25 shoeboxes in total and presented them to a grateful Mr Skutela.

Chairman of the Residents’ Association John Rice said: “I asked if anyone was interested in helping in the morning, and by teatime generous residents had given £65 in cash. Our final total was £120, which we used to go and stock the boxes.”

Nearby sheltered accommodation Sweetbriers residents have also helped out with the boxes.

Firefighters climbing for charity

A group of heroic Croydon firefighters is calling for help for a charity challenge.

The 17 brave men from Croydon fire station are planning an expedition to climb three of the UK’s highest peaks in 24 hours.

The group, including Andrew Hanlon, 28, from Croydon, Liam Brown, 26, from Purley, and Bazza Unwin, 52, from Roundshaw, have been preparing for the endurance test for more than two months.

Their arduous journey is due to begin on June 21.

Once the clock starts, the teams will have just 24 hours to climb Scotland’s Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike in the Lake District, and then finally Mount Snowdon in Wales.

They have had one mini-bus donated but need another and cash for fuel.

Welfare, a charity for child support and family services in Croydon and the Fire Services National Benevolent Fund will be the main recipients of their fundraising.

Westport girls donate their hair

When 7-year-old Michaela Leach got her second-ever haircut on Saturday, she couldn’t wait to get rid of a whole foot of hair. It was heavy, she said, and impossible to brush. Shampooing was a trial.

But even better than a lighter, easier to wear hairstyle, Michaela said, was the fact that her hair was going to “Locks of Love.” Someday it may be on a wig meant for a child who has lost her hair completely.

Michaela was accompanied to the Regis Hair Salon at SouthShore Mall in Aberdeen by her sister, Amiah, who will be 5 next week. Before Amaih had her hair trimmed, it cascaded practically to the top of her legs.

Nina Miller, the girls’ mother, couldn’t hold back tears. She said she knew it was silly, but her girls had worn Rapunzel-like hair for so long she was sorry to see it go. Plus, the haircuts reminded her that Michaela and Amiah are growing up.

Pat Kurylo, the girls’ grandmother, said they have an aunt who has donated her hair to Locks of Love four times, so it was natural that they would want to take part. They especially wanted to after seeing a little girl in a hat and learning that she had lost her hair.

Michael Leach, their dad, said he was grateful that his daughters are so sensitive. “I think it’s a great way for them to be helpful for others,” Leach said.

When the girls learned they’d need at least nine inches of hair to donate, they set a goal and went for it, their grandmother said.

“They would brush it and take care of it because they knew someone was going to get it,” Kurylo said.

Not only were the girls happy to give away their hair, they were excited over their new haircuts.

Michaela got a shoulder-length page boy. She won’t have to braid it up to avoid lice when she goes to Ocosta Elementary School, which made her clap with joy.

Amiah got a bob with shorter hair in the back.

Miller couldn’t get over how much older her daughters looked.

“You look so beautiful!” she exclaimed through tears, embracing Michaela.

“I’m proud of you.”

Thursday, May. 8, 2008

Two-time cancer survivor bikes for a cure

Stratham locals who casually know Scott Joy are surprised to see him pedaling around the neighborhood on a touring bicycle and stunned when they discover he’s training for a 100-mile road race. They’re more accustomed to seeing Joy’s thin frame and bespectacled face on stage singing or acting in community theater.

“It’s a shock to some people. Most think of me as the singing, dancing type. They’re usually surprised to find me doing anything physical,” said Joy with a chuckle.

They’re also surprised because Joy is a two-time cancer survivor.

Joy was originally diagnosed with testicular cancer in June 2003 and then again in 2005, but he has since gone on to make a full recovery.

In addition to teaching musical theater to children at Stratham Community Church, he now rides each year in the LIVESTRONG challenge and has raised more than $49,000 for cancer research.

After he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, Joy underwent surgery in 2003 and again in 2005 when doctors discovered his cancer had made a recurrence.

Through it all, Joy said his biggest concern was not whether he would recover, but how his wife and four children would handle his illness.

“I remember being in the hospital and just asking for strength for my family, to get them through this,” he said.

It was shortly after his first diagnosis when Joy became involved with youth theater at Stratham Community Church. Joy said his love of music began with church choirs and musicals at the age of 4.

“I wanted the opportunity to give my children and others the same experiences I had growing up,” he said.

Parents and congregation members credit Joy with having a profound effect on the community during his four years of work at the church.

“Watching him interact with these young people is amazing. All the children really look up to him,” said Patricia Graham, who has known Joy through church for the past 10 years.

Bob Butcher’s son Matthew performed in the church’s latest musical on Sunday. Butcher said he’s seen his son change after working with Joy.

“He’s much more confident on stage and with himself now,” said Butcher “Part of that is because of Scott.”

“(Joy) makes music fun. He’s serious because there’s a show to perform, but he also knows how to have fun,” added Matthew.

Joy’s diagnosis was also what inspired him to begin long-distance biking. Although his only experience with bicycling was with short trips around the neighborhood, Joy said he felt an obligation to help others with cancer.

He started out slow, building up his endurance with short rides around town. Now he rides a 100-mile race each year for the Lance Armstrong Foundation and is one of the foundation’s top fund-raisers. Last year, Joy received the messenger award from the LIVESTRONG foundation for having the most individual donors. In 2006, Joy was given the chance to ride alongside Armstrong.

Joy said he’s grateful for everything that’s happened after his diagnosis. He also has a message he wants to tell others fighting cancer.

“You can’t let it go, but don’t let it rule your life,” he said. “Life can be better than it was before.”

Wednesday, May. 7, 2008

Gift to Locks of Love

On April 27, 2008 Kayla Griego, age 10, of Eagle Point, fulfilled one of her dreams. After waiting for about a year to get her hair cut, she walked into Cost Cutters on Delta Waters Road where Carrie was waiting to give her a hair cut.

This was not to be just any hair cut. Kayla’s hair was below her waist. The fourth grader at Little Butte School had made the decision. She wanted her hair cut and donated to “Locks of Love,” a non-profit organization that provides hair pieces to financially disabled youth under the age of 18. These children suffer from major medical issues on a long term basis with subsequent loss of hair.

The mission of “Locks of Love” is to return a sense of self confidence and normalcy to children who have lost their hair by utilizing donated hair to provide the highest quality hair prosthetics.

Carrie cut 11 inches off Kayla’s hair and still left it at a nice length. From the smile on Kayla’s face, one can tell that she has done something she really wanted to do. When asked why she did it, she said, “I wanted to give a little girl a wig made with my hair so she would not have to have people see her bald. Because people can make you feel bad if you look different.” When asked if she could do it again, she said “Hmmm, maybe.”

“You have something to be proud of,” said her great- grandmother, Dona Spence. “All it takes is one person to make a difference and you have certainly made someone feel special. ”

Kayla is the daughter of April Crowder. Her grandmother is Susan Wickersham and her great-grandmother is Dona Spence, all are Eagle Point residents. Her mother felt it would be too emotional to watch the locks being cut, according to her great-grandmother, so her grandmother and great-grandmother accompanied her to the appointment.

Monday, May. 5, 2008

Shave for the Cure is shear madness

The ranks of the differently-hirsute swelled by some twenty individuals on Friday, with the realization of the Second Annual Dakota Ridge Shave for the Cure.

The fund-raiser, which benefited the American Cancer Society, raised just over $10,000 in two weeks, all of which will aid the ACS in its mission of research, support, advocacy, and education. Furthermore, at the school-wide assembly held Friday afternoon, ten teachers, six students, and two members of the community all became official members of the “Cueball Crew,” as they submitted their scalps to razors wielded by over-eager raffle winners. A further two faculty members now sport punk rock mohawks, and both teacher Keary Sullivan and freshman Virginia Landoorf donated roughly ten inches of hair apiece to Locks for Love. In addition, four male students at DRHS have committed that, because the community was able to raise more than $10,000, they will be waxing their legs, a spectacle which promises to be excruciatingly hilarious.

Friday’s assembly brings the two-year total of the Shave for the Cure to over $18,500 raised and 30 heads razed. Said one observer of the event, “The results are really just a huge testament to the involvement and compassion of both the Dakota Ridge student body and the surrounding community. Cancer touches the lives of so many, and to see our school step up for a good cause like this is just amazing.”

Monday, Mar. 31, 2008

Ministry helps families stretch food dollar

Angel Food Ministries has made a difference for Deanna Woodworth and her disabled husband.

Woodworth, 59, said she pays Timothy Baptist Church $30 for a big box of food worth much more. She was one of 87 people who recently purchased food boxes. The food is available once monthly.

“This gives us more variety of food,” she said. “We have kids and grandkids and we cook for them. I can go and buy what we need to go with what comes in the box.”

Licensed by the Department of Human Services to run a small home daycare, Woodworth said she doesn’t earn a large amount of money.

“My husband is on disability and has to use oxygen,” she said. “One of our babies, her mother goes to Timothy Baptist and told us about the Angel Food Ministry.”

Woodworth appreciates that the ministry saves her some trips to the store. After she pays the church, they give her a ticket to pick up her box of food.

“The folks at the church make it real easy,” she said. “You just drive around there (with your ticket) and they come out and put the box in your vehicle.”

Patsy Matson, who runs the program at Timothy Baptist, said Angel Food Ministries started in 1994 in Georgia.

“It’s now in more than 3,200 communities in 35 states, helping 500,000 families a month,” she said. “It’s not free, it costs $30 to buy that box of food, lot of brand name products some not, more money for other things can buy canned goods.”

Matson said Timothy Baptist Church has participated in the program since July 2007, as have two other churches; New Hope Assembly of God and Macedonia Baptist Church. The program fits in with the philosophy at Timothy Baptist.

“For one thing, we have a large benevolence,” she said. “People were often asking us for help with their groceries. Now when people come in, we don’t have to find time to arrange for someone to help them. We utilize the Angel Food Ministries to help with benevolence.”

Matson said the food is shipped in bulk. She and her husband Billy get up at 5 a.m. on the 29th of each month and drive to Tahlequah to pick up the church’s portion.

At the church, members set up a homemade assembly line to pack each food box.

“Our church is real mission minded,” Matson said. “Everyone thinks you have to go off thousands of miles for a mission. But, Kelly (Payne, minister) tell us about the missions in our own back yard.”

Churches help save money on grocery bills

With rising prices of just about everything these days getting any kind of break is a blessing. Now some in Connecticut can get a huge savings on their groceries with the help of the Angel Food Ministries.

Well before the sun came up ministry members were busy unloading food at the Good News Christian Church in Wallingford. The boxes of food being are being sold at bargain prices.

“With food prices climbing families aren’t able to meet that end of things so we pitch in and help,” Minister Laurence Woods of Hamden said.

Thanks to the national program, Angel Food Ministries, churches in Connecticut are helping people who want to save a few bucks on their weekly groceries.

“I have three grand children living with us and it’s expensive,” Mary Tart of Wallingford said.

Tart says the savings she gets from this program is a huge help.

“I can do things with them, more than I could before,” Tart said.
“Your dollar goes further?”
“Yeah, a lot further,” she said.

Customers aren’t getting dented cans and expired items. The boxes are full of things you might pull off your store shelves yourself. Everything from meat, beef patties, waffles, even desert.

“Once people find out it’s real same food you can get in the store, they get excited,” said Mike Calo of Old Saybrook.

Calo who works with the Shoreline Church in Old Saybrook says even people in their upper scale community are cashing in. So this program isn’t just for the poor or needy.

“A lot of just middle class and of course we live in a more wealthy area people say ‘Hey, why not? It’s a wonderful idea,'” he said.

“There is no application or qualification process, anyone just wants to supplement their food budget can come get a great deal,” Pastor Joe DeAngelo of the Good News Christian Church said.

At $75.00 worth of food for just $30.00 and with rising gas and grocery prices, it’s a savings some can’t pass up.

Girls give up their locks for kids in need

Last year, when health teacher Maura Kerkezis challenged her students at the Martha Brown Middle School in Fairport to do something for the community, she had a definite idea in mind.

Kerkezis, whose mother is a breast cancer survivor, proposed having students donate their hair to Locks of Love, a public nonprofit organization that provides hair pieces to financially disadvantaged children under 18 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis.

According to the organization’s Web site, most children lose their hair due to a medical condition known as alopecia areata, which has no known cause or cure. The donated hair is used to create the highest-quality hair prosthetics/hairpieces.

On Sunday morning, seven girls ages 7 to 12 answered Kerkezis’ challenge by coming to The Spa at the Del Monte in The Del Monte Lodge, 43 Main St., in Pittsford to have their hair cut for Locks of Love.

The girls, accompanied by their parents, had grown their hair long for the event. Kerkezis also participated by having her mother, Anne Beeman, 63, of Fairport, cut her hair.

Beeman, whose birthday was Sunday, was thrilled with the turnout.

“I’m so proud of them for supporting this cause,” said Beeman, who has had three bouts of breast cancer since 1999. She has been cancer free since a bilateral mastectomy 1½ years ago.

Beeman’s two granddaughters, 7-year-old Abi and 9-year-old Georgia, students at Brooks Hill Elementary School in Fairport, also had their hair cut.

“I’m extremely proud of these kids,” Kerkezis said. “Hair is a girl’s identity. To cut it off is a huge deal. This is about kids helping kids. A wonderful lesson for them.”

She added that her own daughters had watched their grandmother go through the treatments for cancer.

“It’s close to their hearts and one of the pieces they wanted to do,” Kerkezis said.

The other girls participating were Emma Brown, 10, of Canandaigua Elementary School; Caitlin Muncey, 7, of Brooks Hill; Alaina DeCamella, 7, of Paul Road Elementary School in Chili; and Aubrey Bechtold, 12, and Emma McLaughlin, 11, both of Martha Brown. Following the hair cuts, each girl’s and Kerkezis’ hair was styled.

Emma Brown said she was proud to help, but “I was sort of nervous. My hair is hard to take care of.”

Liz Brown, Emma’s mother, who is also a teacher at Martha Brown and a good friend of Kerkezis, said her mother is a 35-year breast cancer survivor.

“I’m very proud of Emma for doing this,” Brown said. “It’s a very mature decision on her part.”

Aubrey had volunteered her mother, Linda Corey, a hairstylist at the Spa at Del Monte, to cut hair.

Corey presented the idea to spa manager Lynda Plain, who said it was a good idea to give to the community.

Plain said the other stylists jumped at the chance to help. Five stylists volunteered to cut the group’s hair before the spa opened for business on Sunday. Plain said the stylists trained for the event by viewing a haircutting video on the Locks of Love Web site. This was the first time the Spa at Del Monte hosted and participated in a group event, Plain said, adding more are planned for the future.

Corey said 10 inches of hair is the required donation to Locks of Love. If the hair that is cut is less than 10 inches, it’s sold at market value and the proceeds are donated to Locks of Love.

Each girl’s dry pony tail was placed into plastic zip lock bags that will be forwarded to the organization in Lake Worth, Fla. It takes six to 10 ponytails to make one hairpiece.

“It’s great that these kids are excited about doing something bigger than they are,” Corey said.

Added her daughter Aubrey: “It made me feel good to be able to help someone. They need it more than I do.”

Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2008

Tampa Bay Woman Makes Aid Happen For Baby Miracle

For Kristin Taylor, it wasn’t a matter of whether she would help the baby, it was how soon.

The moment she saw photos of “Baby Miracle,” born on an island in Samoa with numerous birth defects, including terrible facial deformities, Taylor said she felt compelled to help the child.

Born Sept. 1 on the main Samoan island of Upolu, the baby, born Tina Julie Nanai, wasn’t expected to live. Her feet and spinal cord were deformed. Part of her brain was missing. She had a double cleft palate. She appeared to have no eyeballs, and she was missing fingers.

Doctors told the baby’s parents, Mikaele and Sefulu Nanai, that because of Tina’s misshapen mouth, she could not eat and would die a natural death in a few hours.

That didn’t happen.

Three days went by, and the Nanais continued to visit their daughter in a Samoan hospital. They have described what happened next as nothing short of a miracle.

“I told her that she was a gift from God, and it doesn’t matter what she looks like, and that if this is what God wants, then I love her no matter what,” said Mikaele Nanai, who is in Miami with his daughter helping prepare her for corrective surgery.

When Tina continued to live, and her parents could see she was hungry, Mikaele Nanai bought a can of milk and smuggled it into the hospital beneath his shirt. Her parents began feeding her with a plastic syringe when the nurses weren’t watching. The child began to thrive.

Word spread of the baby’s survival against all odds, and the local media dubbed her “Baby Miracle.” Since then, the family has changed her first name to “Miracletina.”

Because Samoa doesn’t have medical facilities needed to correct her disabilities, the country appealed to nearby New Zealand for help. But the New Zealand government denied the baby’s family an entry visa in December, saying there was no treatment that would benefit her quality of life.

Taylor, a Riverview mother of 12 children, eight of whom are adopted, wasn’t satisfied.

Friends and family weren’t surprised to see Taylor get involved in the international fray. Ten years ago, she helped a Samoan baby with spina bifida, an opening in the spine exposing the spinal cord, travel to Florida for treatment.

Taylor is a co-founder of THORN Ministries. THORN is an acronym for Thankfully Helping Others in Real Need. In the Bay area, THORN feeds the homeless in downtown Tampa every weekend. In Samoa, THORN provides the Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital in Apia, the Samoan capital, with medical supplies and equipment.

When she learned that New Zealand had denied the family’s visa, Taylor wasted no time. She contacted the U.S. Embassy in Apia.

The embassy approved visas and passports so the baby’s family could travel to Florida for up to six months after John Ragheb, chief of pediatric neurosurgery at Miami Children’s Hospital, and S. Anthony Wolfe, chief of the hospital’s plastic surgery division, agreed to provide medical services for the baby free of charge through the Child Foundation. The nonprofit organization, made up of physicians and volunteers dedicated to helping uninsured children born with physical deformities and birth defects, will pay for the baby’s surgery.

“We had to ensure it was possible to meet U.S. legal requirements that sufficient funds were available for Miracletina’s treatment,” George Colvin, charge d’affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Samoa, said in a statement Feb. 5. “We wish Miracletina and her family all the very best.”

While it’s unclear whether the baby will have developmental difficulties, many are hopeful she can have a normal life.

“After having recently met with her team of doctors at Miami Children’s Hospital, we are hopeful that we can help her embark upon a normal life, the life that she – and every child – deserves,” Child Foundation spokeswoman Toni Garner said.

‘She Has Been Gifted To The World’

Ragheb and Wolfe say they’re confident they can help the girl.

“While we certainly cannot make her completely normal, she has a bilateral cleft lip that we can repair, a meningomyelocoele spina bifida and other bone defects of the skull that can be treated,” Wolfe said. “These are treatments we would do for any child in this country, so why not give Baby Miracle some of the same resources we would provide our own children?”

Garner said an MRI on Friday showed Baby Miracle may have a lens in one eye as well.

“We don’t know if she’ll be able to see yet. We’ll know more next week,” Garner said. “She’s a very healthy 5-month-old baby. She has deformities, but she’s a living, loving child, and her parents love her dearly.”

Taylor said she’s thrilled to be able to play a role in Baby Miracle’s story.

“She has been gifted to the world to show how precious all life is to God,” she said. “She’s a little angel without wings. We are so blessed to be a part of Miracle’s journey.”

Monday, Feb. 25, 2008

Program offers food at a discount to anyone

Nothing stops the volunteers at Fabion United Methodist Church.

Not even rain, snow or sleet.

Once a month, they distribute food to families at the church, despite any weather condition.

“One month it was pouring down rain the whole time,” said Sid Robbins, the church minister. “We had people lined up outside with umbrellas.”

The church is one of several in the Northland that participate in Angel Food Ministries, a nonprofit program that offers quality food at a reduced price.

Anyone can purchase a box of food worth $60 to $75, for just $30 through the program.

“It gives us a chance to reach out and help people with groceries,” said Judy Fenster, director of Fabion United’s program. “They get a lot of food.”

The program’s a tremendous help for Janet Hasenohr, a retired Gladstone resident who’s on a fixed income.

“It helps me a lot,” she said. “It gets my meat for the whole month.”

Hasenohr is one of the program’s regulars and said she participates each month.

“I don’t know what I’d do without this place,” she said. “It helps people more than you think.”

The program has also been a blessing for Gladstone resident Loretta Lindsay.

She said the program isn’t just about receiving food at a discounted price, it’s also helped her on a spiritual level. She remembered one month when she came in to order her food and she explained why she needed the extra help and the church volunteer took the time to pray with her as well.

“It’s good knowing there are people out there that care,” she said.

Fenster said the church doesn’t use any guidelines to determine who is eligible for the program and simply helps anyone who feels they could use the service.

Those interested in the service sign up for the food items they’d like to have about two weeks before the food distribution date. They can choose from a variety of items such as breaded chicken breasts, salisbury steaks, potatoes, onions, corn, chicken noodle soup and dessert items.

Then, the morning of the distribution, church volunteers pick up the food at a separate site and return to the church.

Volunteers help arrange the food on long tables, so that the recipients can get their food fast.

“They’re out the door in probably one and two minutes,” Fenster said. “It runs really smooth.”

Linda Lafitte said she not only appreciates the program’s speedy service, but she also likes the variety of the food.

“You can really cook meals around what you receive,” said the retired Clay County resident.

She and other recipients who lined up for the program last Saturday said they were thankful for the church’s efforts.

“It’s a wonderful program,” Lafitte said. “In fact, it’s a blessing.”

Mystery donor sticks neck out to help care charity

A MYSTERIOUS statue of a giraffe which turned up on the doorstep of a Golders Green organisation in the UK has raised hundreds of dollars for charity.

This bronze sculpture of a giraffe and her offspring was left at the offices of Jewish Care by a generous but anonymous member of the public.

Not knowing what to do with the 19-inch artwork, staff at the charity made some enquiries among art experts and found it was the work of well-known Zimbabwean-born sculptor Llewellyn Davies.

It has now gone under the hammer at Bonhams for almost $4,000 and the money raised from the sale will help Jewish Care continue its work with the elderly, infirm, refugees and holocaust survivors.

Cops unite in hairless solidarity

When Officer Eric Schultz started losing his hair from chemo treatment a few weeks ago, he never imagined it would result in the unity he saw Saturday.

Sitting in large classroom at Wauconda High School, Schultz watched as dozens of fellow officers joined him in hair-less solidarity.

For the 23-year-old Wauconda officer it was one of the brighter moments of a whirlwind winter that’s included an osteosarcoma (a form of bone cancer) diagnosis in November and amputation of his right foot earlier this month.

“I never expected a huge event like this,” Schultz said. “It’s made it much easier to go through the treatment. It’s great.”

More than 70 people – the majority police officers from Wauconda and surrounding communities – shaved their heads at WHS Saturday to support Schultz and benefit the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which raises money for pediatric cancer.

The scene resembled a highly-efficient barber shop, or maybe a military salon. Seven at a time, lush-haired officers were shorn. Nearly as fast as they sat down their locks were cut and they were sent on their way, rubbing newly-chromed domes as the next officer took a seat.

Getting a cut was a no-brainer, said Wauconda detective Keith Ringham, who was one of 13 village police officers to shave his head Saturday.

“It’s important to be there for (Schultz),” Ringham said. “It shows the unity between police officers.”

Wauconda police were joined by officers from neighboring Island Lake and from the Algonquin Police Department. Even recruits from the Suburban Law Enforcement Academy took part. The academy’s most popular current student, Lake County Sheriff’ Mark Curran, shaved his head for the first time in his adult life.

While his 8-year-old son, George looked on and criticized the new do, Curran said he was happy to show support for another officer.

“It’s the nature of law enforcement,” Curran said. “When one is in trouble, you rally around them.”

Some women even got in on the action. Johnna Garrett, a dispatcher at Wauconda cut 10 inches of her jet black hair to donate to Locks of Love, which uses the hair to make wigs for chemo patients.

By the end of the day more than 70 heads had been shaved, and Wauconda police raised an estimated $18,000, which was well above the initial goal of $5,000, said Deputy Chief Patrick Yost.

In a few months the story will get even better. When treatment is complete Schultz is expected to be fitted for a prosthetic foot, and will likely rejoin the force.

“Everyone’s support has just been huge,” Schultz said.

Friday, Dec. 14, 2007

Angel Food program helps hundreds of families save

Members of Richland Road Church of Christ heard about Angel Food ministries by word of mouth from a church member whose mother participates in the low-cost food program in Alabama.

Matt Dahm, family life minister and coordinator of the outreach ministry team at the church, said once the opportunity for outreach was discussed by church leaders, a decision was made to further investigate the possibility of bringing the Angel Food opportunity to Marion.


A team of volunteers went to Mansfield to a host church site to check out what is needed to bring the project to fruition.
“We went over on a distribution day to get the feel for the ministry,” Dahm said.

The ministry, states a press release, takes compassion to the next level by providing dignity based outreach – a sustainable service model that brings support back to the sponsoring church, and moves people from crisis mode to regular budgeting and healthier nutrition.

Once the decision was made to move forward, Dahm said there are folks in the church who have found this to be their “niche in outreach ministry.” Laurie Starcher and Dixie Hines are two of those members.

“It’s our way of serving,” Hines said. “The men can serve in the church but there’s very little the women can do to give back.”

“I love to see people’s faces when they see what’s in the menu,” Starcher added, noting that a price increase from $25 to $30 goes into effect with the January 2008 distribution. “We’ve had no complaints with the price increase. It doesn’t matter what you make to partici

pate in this – from no job to making thousands a month – you can still do it.”

Dahm said each Angel Food unit includes 17-18 items each month – most of them frozen foods but some fresh foods, as well. The Richland Road church has a team that drives a rental truck to Westerville to pick up the food on distribution day and another team that helps unload the truck and organize the food items for distribution.

Although the units are expressed as “sold,” the church makes no money from the sale of the food boxes, Dahm said. When the local ministry first began, their monthly distribution was about 50-60 units and currently now is more than 200.

On distribution day (which is this Saturday this month), the menu for the next month is available and folks can make their next month’s purchase that day, relieving them of the need to make an additional trip to make the next month’s purchase. Dahm did stress that those who make a purchase must bring a box or bags to put the food into and teens from the church are available to carry it to their car for them.

For Cathy Parker, learning the outreach would be available in Marion was a godsend. She said she had seen a flyer with the Angel Food ministry but the host church was in Marysville. She said she and several of her friends would purchase a basic unit, then she would drive to Marysville and pick it up on distribution day.

“I was so glad when I learned Richland Road (Church of Christ) was going to do it,” Parker said. “The quality of food is wonderful.”

Parker, a former teacher now on disability due to several health concerns and a single mother with a 4-year-old daughter, said stretching the budget to meet all needs can be difficult. In addition to the basic unit, she also sometimes purchases specialty boxes which she also described as “good deals.”

“It (the ministry) is just what it says,” she said. “Angel food.”

Spending two or three days a month both selling and the day of distribution is not a problem for Hines.

“It’s a blessing,” she said. “It’s a great way to help our community. I can feel like I’ve done something for God, for my church and for the community.”

Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2007

A hot meal by teens, for teens

Sunday dinner is in the hands of the Price boys.

Travis, 17, does the main dish. Thomas, 14, whips up dessert.

Every other Sunday the brothers make supper for as many as 20 homeless youth at Urban Peak.

The shelter, which helps young people overcome homelessness, is one of 14 area charities receiving grants from The Gazette/El Pomar Empty Stocking Fund.

The Price boys do the planning, shopping and cooking for the Sunday meal. Their mom picks up the tab.

The Sunday stints started when the shelter opened three years ago and needed canned goods. Travis led his Boy Scout troop in a can drive to stock the shelves.

He wanted to do more.

He was too young to volunteer, but not to cook.

There isn’t a regular cook at the shelter on Sundays. The Price boys alternate Sunday supper duty with other volunteers, so dinner is ready when the residents come back in the evening.

Without this evening meal, many would go hungry or eat junk food.

The Price boys make teen-friendly fare that is nutritious — no fried fastfood stuff. Barbecue and sloppy joes are popular entrees. A fruit and vegetable rounds out the menu.

They take “comfort food” requests. One teen wanted German food. Another wanted a pan of corn bread.

Thomas’ specialty is a creation with angel food cake, candy bars, pudding and whipped cream.

Travis makes a mean meatball lasagna.

The boys have not only learned to cook, they’ve learned to embrace and respect fellow teens going through hardships. Some Urban Peak residents were Palmer High School classmates of Travis’.

The boys have led projects to raise money and awareness of teen hunger.

“It’s a real eye-opener,” said their mom, Michele.

Monday, Dec. 10, 2007

Feeding People, One Box At a Time

Food costs have skyrocketed along with the cost of gas and utilities. These days, everyone is trying to shave a few dollars off the grocery bill.

It takes some know-how to stretch that food dollar, and Scott and Kim McLain are experts. The Traverse City couple are parents of nine children. Yet as busy as they are caring for their three biological and five adopted children and being a legal guardian to another, Kim McLain is never too busy to make sure others are fed as well.

Along with running her busy household, Kim McLain is the local coordinator for Angel Food Ministries, a nationwide food ministry whose local church affiliate is McLain’s church, Living Hope Assembly of God.

Once a month the ministry distributes boxes of restaurant-quality food for $25. These are not seconds or damaged goods, no dented cans or day-old breads. It’s estimated that the boxes carry a retail value of between $50 and $60, and the best part is, there are no income requirements. The discounted food is available to anyone.

“The Angel Food program helps people from 20-somethings just starting out to the elderly on fixed incomes trying to cut corners on their food budget,” Kim McLain said.

The program accepts government food stamps. McLain said it also can provide a lot of groceries for people using the Michigan Bridge Card, a cash assistance card available for those who qualify for state help.

“We hear people say, the work is seasonal; my husband lost his job; I’m a single mom. It fits all these criteria,” she said.

The program also helps balance a budget when medical costs take an unexpected chunk out of monthly income.

Participation has increased since McLain took on the job as coordinator two years ago. She says over 100 customers have signed on since May.

The Angel Food Ministry, headquartered in Monroe, Ga., began in 1994 when Rev. Joe Wingo started distributing food from his back porch. He first tried to give the food away, then realized that even those with a great need were too proud to accept a handout. He changed direction and offered the food at a deep discount with the new insight that there is dignity in poverty. The ministry currently reaches roughly 300,000 people in 32 states including Michigan.

“I had heard about the program and looked into it,” McLain said.

The McLains and several other families sampled the food to see what the quality was like and investigated how much work would be involved in getting the church distribution center up and running.

“Around that time, four different people came up to me and mentioned Angel Food. I said ‘OK, I get it.’ I knew God was telling me I was supposed to be the one to get it started at Living Hope.”

It’s estimated that the box can feed a family of four for a week, or a senior citizen for almost a month The menu items vary from month to month, but include fresh or frozen items such as steak, chicken nuggets, frozen vegetables, a dessert, frozen pizza or corn dogs. In addition, boxes of three or four meat specials can be purchased along with a regular order for an extra $18.

“I feel good giving good food at a great price,” McLain said. She takes pleasure in seeing people buying a box of food for themselves as well as a box for others — a care package, she said. Others are saving on food bills and donating their savings to ministries.

Dealing with food logistics was nothing new for McLain. The family has been active members at Living Hope for five years and McLain already was running the church food pantry as well as the adoptive food co-op.

“Many of the families in church have children in foster care. The children are eligible through Child and Family Services for food through a co-op run by the Gleaners, but once a child is adopted, he is disqualified from the program,” she said. “This is difficult because some of the children have medical problems and eating issues.”

As adoptive parents themselves, the McLains recognized the need for the food co-op at the church, which currently serves about 12 families.

For them, the Angel Food Ministry is another option.

“It offers people a way out instead of a hand-out,” she said. “I just love this job. It fits me to a T.”

Six-year-old gives big part of herself to help kids

Six-year-old Haylea Starr Knight of Reidsville is giving a special gift to a child this Christmas season ? her hair.

Knight has had open heart surgery twice. She knows what it’s like to have help from others, and she wants to help other children who are in poor health.

Knight wrote to Locks of Love, and she also sent 13 inches of her silky blonde hair.

“This year for the holidays I wanted to do something for a kid who has cancer,” Knight writes in her letter. “When I was in the hospital having surgery to fix my heart, my nurse told me about Locks of Love, since my hair was long. I told my mom I wanted to get my hair cut to make a wig for a kid that has cancer. So I had a haircut and we are sending my ponytail to them, so a kid can smile with hair for the holidays.”

Pamela McKinney Capps, Knight’s neighbor and a hairdresser at Hair Reflections on N.C. 65, cut Knight’s hair.

“I was shocked when Haylea asked me to cut all her hair off,” said Capps. She said the neighborhood children gathered in the yard to see Knight after her hair was cut. Capps’ 7-year-old son, Christian, and 8-year-old nephew, Kyler Whicker, were upset when they saw that Knight’s long locks had been removed.

“They had their hands on their hips and asked, ‘Why did you cut off all of Haylea’s hair?'” said Capps.

Knight’s open heart surgery in July prevented her from doing the things she enjoys the most. But she quickly rebounded and is jumping around, having fun once again.

Knight’s grandmother, Starr Tuttle, calls her “a bottle of energy.”

“You would never know this child had heart surgery. She’s wide open,” said Tuttle.

“It’s just by chance that they found her heart condition because she was very healthy.”

In August 2006, Tuttle took Knight for her 5-year-old checkup, and the doctor discovered the problem. He referred her to a cardiologist, who determined Knight had an anomalous left coronary artery. The condition occurs when the left coronary artery comes out of the pulmonary artery, instead of its usual site of origin, the aorta.

“It’s very serious and very rare,” said Tuttle. “One in every 300,000 children are born with it. They usually catch it before they are 2 years old.”

Tuttle said Knight has again started growing her hair for Locks of Love. She has even persuaded some of her friends to donate their hair.

Capps said more and more children are donating their hair to Locks of Love because awareness is spreading. She said hair donated to Locks of Love must be at least 10 inches long and must not be dyed or permed.

Knight says she doesn’t miss her long hair.

“I like having short hair. It’s easy to brush,” she said.

Officers offer Christmas to under-privileged children

Navigating the aisles of Wal-Mart during this time of year is like a ritual for one dynamic duo.

“It’s good, good friends.” Joey Bolton said.

This is the 5th year Topeka police officer Jason Garner has participated in Shop with a Cop, and for 3 of those years he’s teamed up with the same partner in crime, Joey.

“One of the volunteers said I was the only request this year, so it makes me feel pretty good,” Garner said.

But when Joey was asked what made Jason so special that he had to put in a request he couldn’t think of an exact reason.

“Ahhhh…I don’t know,” said Bolton. “I don’t know why he is special. I think he is special, I just can’t think of why.”

Well, that may be because Joey was focused on the task at hand.

He and the other children with Big Brothers, Big Sisters filled shopping carts with Christmas gifts for themselves or their family. Some had lists…checking them twice while others relied on memory to recall who has been naughty or nice.

“We picked out some pretty neat things,” Garner said.

And it’s this simple task that’s made Jason and Joey inseparable.

“To have a relationship with a child is very important for the community and to be a positive role model to somebody such as Joey, it means the world to me,” Garner said.

Organizers say the ultimate goal is to show to kids law enforcement officers are not always the bad guys.

“This puts the officers in a positive light…let’s them see that we are human,” said FOP Lodge No. 3 President Jack Mackey. “The uniform isn’t a barrier that they can’t come talk to us.”

And though these two share common interests, don’t count on seeing Joey dressed like Jason anytime soon.

“I’ve had my dream of becoming a computer programmer.” Bolton said.

The Fraternal Order of Police has provided under-privileged kids with holiday gifts for the last 15 years.

Thursday, Dec. 6, 2007

Fox Lake police take kids on shopping spree

Police and village officials in Fox Lake on Wednesday helped give about 160 children a gift they’ll likely never forget.

The children, from Fox Lake and Ingleside, were treated to a $100 shopping spree at the Antioch Wal-Mart as part of the second annual Fox Lake Police Department Shop with a Cop program.

The event was started last year by Fox Lake Police Chief Mike Behan, who said this was his favorite community outreach program.

“This does two things: It gives back to the community and brings a sense of the holidays to a large amount of underprivileged children,” he said. “On top of that, these kids are able to meet a police officer when they are children, as opposed to when they grow up. Children remember that.”

The Shop with a Cop program was funded by a golf outing held over the summer that raised more than $19,000. Dockers Duffers and Dockers Restaurant in Fox Lake held the event specifically for the program.

Behan said parents were invited to shop for gifts with their children and that clothes, hats, gloves, scarves, coats, shoes and other amenities needed to keep children warm this winter were high on the list of items to be purchased.

However, children in the program also were able to pick out a toy for themselves.

“I think this is just a great program,” said parent Katie Helmer. “I don’t know who is more excited about it, me or the kids. But, truly, this is just something wonderful for us.”

The group gathered first at the police station, 303 S. Route 59, for pizza and drinks. Then they headed to Wal-Mart on Route 173 for the shopping spree.

Each child was escorted through the store by a police officer or volunteer, who pushed the cart, calculator in hand and added up the purchases.

About 20 officers volunteered to push carts and other village officials were brought in to help children pick out their items. Due to the high number of children taking part in the event, village officials were invited to help walk children around.

“This is always one of my favorite programs of the year,” said Trustee Ed Bender, who is in charge of the village board’s public safety committee. “I like to see the police department in a positive light like this and there is nothing more positive than this, especially around the holidays.”

Police departments around Lake County have annually pitched in through the Shop with a Cop program to help out underprivileged families during the holidays. Antioch police will host their fourth annual Shop with a Cop on Dec. 12 at the same Wal-Mart Super Center.

While parents delighted throughout the evening at the new boots and the coats children received, children were most excited about the toys.

“I want to get a bunch of things,” said 4-year-old Taylor Patricia Goebel of Fox Lake. “But I really want Dora the Explorer. That’s my favorite.”

Inside Good News Blog