October 27, 2011 at 8:40 a.m.

If you need it, please utilize the Outerwear Fair; still time to get spooked at Ojiketa

If you need it, please utilize the Outerwear Fair; still time to get spooked at Ojiketa
If you need it, please utilize the Outerwear Fair; still time to get spooked at Ojiketa

This is a huge week for our community. We have two big events taking place that are worthy of mentioning.

First, the annual Kids Outerwear Fair at Trinity Lutheran Church kicks off (today) Thursday afternoon. These wonderful volunteers from all over the community have worked for months gathering gently worn winter clothes and accessories. They will be distributing clothes on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. If you decide to take advantage of the give away, you have my word that no questions will be asked. There will be someone on hand to help you find exactly what you need.

I have been lucky enough to witness the fair for years, and to tell you it is appreciated would be the understatement of the century. A million thanks to all who helped with this year's fair.

The second big event taking place this weekend is the Feed My Starving Children food packing event. Beginning on Friday and running through Sunday, the event has had unbelievably high volunteer numbers. So much so, that they have added extra shifts to accommodate all of the volunteers.

Feed My Starving Children is a global effort to wipe out hunger worldwide. For pennies, a child can be fed a nutritious meal for a week. These are children that otherwise would have no food whatsoever. At the packing events, large groups of people gather to pack individual meals to be shipped wherever needed in the world. It is factory like work, where each volunteer has a specific job and when it gets rolling, it is like a well oiled machine churning out thousands and thousands of packed meals. Thanks to the hundreds of people who have volunteered for this momentous event. (We will be packing on Friday night, I will let you know how it went next week.)

I hope you had a chance to make it to Ojiketa Regional Park last weekend. Ojiketa was the site of Falloween and the Haunted Hallow. Falloween was a Halloween festival just for kids that featured a magic show, trick-or-treating, and a pumpkin give away. My daughter and I went to take pictures of the event which had tons of kids all dressed up for Halloween. The weather was spectacular and everyone seemed to be having a great time.

The Haunted Hallow was held in the evening and was geared more towards older kids and adults. Being that we have younger children and we value our sleep, we opted to not have them scared out of their wits. I am told the attendance was better than expected. If you missed your chance, the Haunted Haunt will be open this weekend on Friday and Saturday from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m.

If you are a Veteran, let me just first start by saying Thank You. Thank you for all you have done for our great country. Whether you know it or not, you are very appreciated.

On November 11, you are invited to the 10th annual Veterans Day Dinner. All Veterans are welcome to come enjoy a fantastic meal with some local heroes. The dinner will be held at the Lindstrom Communty Center and the cost is $11 per person. Active duty service men and women are welcomed as guests to the dinner. The featured speaker this year will be Peter Vodenka. Vodenka is an escapee from communist Czechoslovakia in 1983.

Once again this year, we decided to venture south for MEA weekend. No not Padre Island, we opted for the posh and tropic sands of Iowa. Before you go on and on about how lucky I am, there was a purpose to our trip. It has been forever since we have seen my grandmother, and we were definitely overdue for a visit.

She usually has a list of odd jobs for me to do and I am more than happy to accommodate her. You see, my grandmother turns 96 in a few weeks and I would do anything for her. She still lives on her own, drives to the grocery store, and sometimes shovels her own walk. without going on and on, she is simply my hero. So a visit to Iowa is just what I needed.

After another incredibly bad night stay at a hotel (I won't get into it, but it involved loud semi trucks all night long, and my kids learning new swear words at the swimming pool), we decided to stay at my grandmother's house. We try not to stay with her because we know she will be going up and down the stairs to make the beds.

Anyway, when our work was complete on Friday afternoon, we decided to take a ride around town. My kids love seeing the house where I was born and lived for a few years. My grandma loves to tell stories about their old restaurant and gas station they owned.

As we were driving around Cedar Falls, something just wasn't right. Then it hit me, there is no recession in this town. Keep in mind there are close to 40,000 people that live in Cedar Falls. If you drive through downtown, there is not one vacant store front. Restaurants have lines of people outside beginning around six or so. There are new housing developments (I said developments) going up everywhere. There are job openeings in the want ads. It is like stepping back 14 years in time.

Why am I mentioning this? Not really sure. But researching their downtown model and business model are definitely worth looking into. Maybe this is a sign of hope. Maybe what Cedar Falls has done is a sign that things are starting to turn.

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