Teri Cadeau is a reporter for the Budgeteer.
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Pens and pencils quickly scratched across notepads and sheets of paper in the quiet art room in the Area Learning Center High School last Wednesday afternoon. Although it was the middle of their winter break, three Duluth high school students were busy responding to the writing prompt: "2016 is _____?" "Write whatever comes out of you, this is just a freewrite to get you thinking," said Kyle Tran Myhre, programs manager of TruArtSpeaks. "Don't overthink it, just write."
Two Harbors resident Angela Waldron was feeling a little low on holiday spirit while staying in the hospital on bedrest on Dec. 20. Her high risk pregnancy meant she would have to stay at Essentia Health St. Mary’s Medical Center through the holidays. “We decorated a tree as a family, but it’s so far away and we’re not going to be able to put presents under it since we’re going to have Christmas here in my room,” Waldron said.
The holiday season is about to become a little more toasty for kids in Neighborhood Youth Services. For the past month, NYS has been collecting and creating 80 new fleece tie blankets to give to each of their students at the annual holiday party on Dec. 22. “Princess Kisob, our program director came up with the idea for the tie Blanket Extravaganza because blankets are pretty essential, especially in communities with broader unmet needs,” said Nahom Abegaze, program coordinator at NYS.
James “Jim” Perrault, Jr. was the first member of the Boys & Girls Club of Duluth when the doors first opened in 1971. He remembers his father, James Perrault, Sr., one of the original founding members, talked to him about becoming the first member. “And I said, ‘OK, where do I have to sign?’ And that was it,” Perrault said.
Duluthian artist Doris Sampson never officially went to school for art. This year marks Sampson's 51st anniversary as an artist. She considers herself a functional or "hawsepiper" artist. A hawsepiper is a nautical term for a ship's officer who worked their way up through the ranks and did not attend officer school. "It means that you worked your way up the ranks the hard way. You learned by doing," Sampson said.
The sound of bells has been heard across the area for the past month as the Duluth Salvation Army began the annual Red Kettle campaign. Volunteers have devoted hundreds of hours to ringing bells and wishing passersby a "Merry Christmas." Volunteers are the difference between an empty kettle and one that raises about $50 per hour, enough to provide a family with two bags of groceries. There are still many two-hour shifts available until Christmas Day in the 18 kettle locations around the Duluth area.
A new pop-up market place opened in the Holiday Center last month. Market Day Duluth is a winter farmer and artisan market created by over 15 vendors who normally sell items at the University of Minnesota Duluth Farmer's Market during the summer. Organizer Sarah Garramone said she was looking for a space for her fellow sellers to show their items throughout the winter months. "We've talked about doing something like this for a long time, so it's nice to have the opportunity," Garramone said.
I always have a hard time dealing with the darkness that comes with December. It is, physically speaking, one of the darkest months of the year, with an average of a little more than eight and a half hours of daylight. It hosts the darkest day, the winter solstice, Dec. 21. And there's just something inherently depressing about walking outside at 4 p.m. and noticing it's dark enough for the streetlights to turn on. To battle the December darkness and my lack of holiday spirit, I went hunting for light last weekend.
In the winter of 2005, Proctor resident Cheryl Deloach needed something fun to do with her grandson and two great-nieces. She decided to help the kids build and decorate their own gingerbread houses. The kids had fun, so she decided they'd make it an annual event and invite a few more relatives next year. Eleven years later, Deloach's annual gingerbread decorating party has grown to 31 children, parents, relatives, extended family, friends and her mother.