Tonawanda News

December 15, 2012

Tonawandas: Full of givers

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The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — “Yarn on the Chair” could be the title of a great book. Instead it was a huge bag of yarn that was on my chair at work Wednesday morning. At the DeGraff Memorial Hospital’s gift shop where I dropped off for the yarn, a shopper asked what the yarn would be used for.

After explaining how the yarn project snowballed and the wonderful donations that were received, her comment was: “That’s what the Tonawandas are all about — giving.”

How right she was.

Take, for instance, the Rockin’ with Santa that was started by John and Kate White but which has grown by leaps and bounds each year. The dynamic couple stopped by the News to pick up an overflowing toy collection box and said that about 30 volunteers showed up to help set up 25 tables at the Elks Club in Tonawanda. More than 3000 toys have been collected — can you even imagine 3000 toys — so that children in the more than 130 needy families in our communities will have new toys for Christmas. John also mentioned the number of people, most of whom he doesn’t even know, who gave donations of $50 to $500 to assure the success of the event.

The woman at DeGraff was right: It’s what the Tonawandas are all about — taking care of their own.

Now back to the yarn. A woman, who would not give her name, dropped of a clear garbage bag full to overflowing with yarn, so many of the skeins have never even been used. A huge thank you to whoever this generous person is. This yarn went to Karen Armenia and her knitting groups — and she was delighted!

And speaking of DeGraff gift shop — have you looked there for some unusual and perfectly priced gifts? What a great array. The same goes for the Carrousel Museum’s gift shop. Really unusual gifts.

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Do you like Christmas programs? They are one of my favorites and when announcements come to the News about schools that are presenting Christmas concerts or plays, they get noted on my calendar. This year, only a few came in, but the one at Cardinal O’Hara High School seemed outstanding: a spaghetti dinner, followed by the annual Franciscan Greccio and then a Christmas concert by the school’s chorus and bands and then more refreshments in the student dining hall. Who could resist?

What an evening it was. Members of the freshman class traditionally put on the Greccio presentation in the school’s courtyard, a reenactment of the first Nativity scene on Christmas night in 1223 created by St. Francis in Greccio, Italy. O’Hara’s costumed performers, music and narration brought the scene alive.

Perhaps the highlight of the evening was the performances of the school’s jazz ensemble, concert band and wind ensemble, directed by Scott Bean, instrumental director. The choral selections by the chorus and song corps, led by Scott Paeplow, choral director, were amazing.

O’Hara is not a large school and to see so many students taking part is a tribute to the school’s leadership and its fine arts program. At the end of the evening, Mary Holzerland, principal and a graduate of O’Hara, noted that 60 percent of the school’s enrollment participate in the fine arts program.

“This is an amazing number for any high school,” she commented.

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Recently, an email talked about a new historical commentary book, “America…A Nation That’s Lost Its Way.” The email was coincidental as just last weekend my son made a pre-Christmas visit from Baltimore and the discussion turned to the affairs of the country.

“You know,” he said, “from earliest times, nations have risen to great heights and then disintegrated. It seems to me that the United States has peaked and is now on its way down. People don’t want to sacrifice, more and more are content to let the government run their lives. I read in the Washington (D.C.) paper that in 1950 only two percent of the population were on permanent disability. Now it’s nearly nine percent. I wonder what the country will be like when my kids have families.”

Seems the title of the book may not be wrong.

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Leonard Neaman died this past week and it’s a sad end of an era. Leonard for the past couple of years, would bring over the schedule for the Anerald Boating Club’s chowder sales for publication. We’d chat about this and that, without my knowing nor being aware of his myriad of accomplishments: 74-year member of the National Hose Fire Company, 77-year member and oldest member of the Eldredge Club, past commodore and treasurer of the Anerald club, lifelong member of Salem United Church of Christ. My fondest memories are seeing him come to visit on the Monday after each month’s chowder sale and giving me a quart of the chowder. Just one of so many thoughtful ways he made lives more cheerful. Condolences to his family.

Contact community editor Barbara Tucker at 693-1000, ext. 4110 or email barbara.tucker@tonawanda-news.com