Teri Cadeau is a reporter for the Budgeteer.
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Local volunteers got into the winter spirit by volunteering a few hours of their time during the Holiday Edition of Day of Caring on Dec. 7. Hundreds of families, friends and local organizations volunteered their time and talent with over 14 service projects, including spreading holiday cheer for the homeless at Harbor House Crisis Shelter, making cocoa and crafts with kids at Myers-Wilkins Elementary and helping deck the halls of a local nursing home.
A shoe salesman, a music teacher and a biology professor ... what do these three have in common? They share the love of playing music together and are members of the Duluth Community Orchestra. "We have people from all walks of life in here. We have doctors, scientists, college professors. They're a unique group," said conductor Sam Marks. On a wintry evening last week, the orchestra gathered for their final rehearsal before their winter concert, which will take place 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 13 at in the Lincoln Park Middle School, 3215 W 3rd St.
Last year's Community Christmas Tree was referred to by its owners as the "bird tree." It only makes sense for it to be followed this year by the "squirrel tree." The 60-foot-tall, 55-year-old white spruce was donated by Susan Dierks. For over 40 years it stood tall beside her deck. She kept a few squirrel and bird feeders in the tree. But it was starting to lean and the family was concerned it would come down in the next big storm. So they nominated it for consideration as this year's Community Christmas Tree and it won.
The children's section of the Duluth Public Library had a few more adult visitors than usual last Wednesday. The Duluth Library Foundation, library staff, Wells Fargo representatives and Mayor Emily Larson gathered with young visitors in the space shortly after Storytime to celebrate a gift of 250 new children's picture books.
About 150 elementary students and parents attended "Empower Me," an energetic personal safety lesson held in the Proctor High School auditorium last Tuesday. "Everyone hold your hand up with your five fingers stretched out. Those five fingers remind us that we should always have five trusted adults that we can talk to about anything. Those are five adults who we can go to if we don't feel safe," said speaker Alison Feigh. "Adults, please turn to your children right now to discuss those five adults."
Part 1 of this article appeared in the Nov. 20 issue. November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. According to the American Cancer Society, pancreatic cancer has the lowest five-year survival rate of any major cancer, at only 8 percent. This disease is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States.
Six years ago, when John D'Auria planned a dance competition in memory of his cousin Willie, he wasn't sure if it would work. He'd planned the competition in three weeks, gathering what sponsors he could, printed posters with his own copier and spread the word throughout the community. The first Willie Kruger Dance Competition was held at the Horseshoe Billards and Bar on a Sunday afternoon. And five minutes before the contest was scheduled to begin, D'Auria had no dancers.
Janet Olcott, known to her friends as "Bubbles," has a passion for Morgan Park. She's lived in the neighborhood for practically her entire life. She was born there, attended K-12 at Morgan Park schools, met her husband, worked for U.S. Steel and raised her kids in Morgan Park. "It's my home," Olcott said. "I wouldn't want to live anywhere else."
For many people, Thanksgiving is a time of inward reflection. It's a time to consider the most important things in life, spend time with loved ones and eat delicious food. With that in mind, the Budgeteer took to the streets and skywalks Wednesday afternoon to find out what Duluthians are thankful for, what they do to celebrate the holiday and what Thanksgiving dish is best. Family was one the most common themes.
For the past 20 to 25 years, Mike Switzer has spent his Thanksgiving baking turkey, stirring mashed potatoes, preparing gravy and serving food for nearly 6,000 people. He's one of the several hundred volunteers who help at the annual Twin Ports Thanksgiving Buffet at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. "It's a group effort. We couldn't do it without all the help. I'm just one of the many," Switzer said.