Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Clean off those cleats, dust off those shoes

It's time for high school sports!
Now, I'm not going to lie, it wasn't long ago when I got less than excited about such a statement. Sports fanatic that I am (and born and raised in Green Bay Packer land, to boot), as soon as I graduated high school I all but washed my hands of any games lower than the college level—with the exception of those of friends and family, of course. 
But last year as a rookie sports reporter, I rediscovered something: high school athletes have a passion that's difficult to find on other levels. Because they're actually doing it just for the love of the game, or the run or whatever sport it is they've lost their hearts to.
Now I'm ready and raving to dive back in! Taking over both high schools as sports reporter this year, I got a little taste of the fall season last week at the Orange-Cedar Ridge tennis match. And I can't wait to continue that cross-town rivalry the next few weeks as the Red Wolves and the Panthers duke it out.
Previews of all 10 sports teams—as well as the two cheerleading squads—are in today's News of Orange (the Wednesday, Aug. 22, edition). Stay tuned for more as the seasons progress! I can't wait to see how our athletes do.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The toymaker's chest

There is something magical about making toys. As a child, of course, any toy--especially a new one--absolutely captivated me. Remember the feeling of walking into one of those giant toy stores? The one I remember most vividly is the one in Chicago--I forget the name--a two-story wonderland of stuffed animals, games, trains. Magic.
Naturally the creator of such a wonderful thing must be equally magnificent, right?
I had the pleasure of meeting with one of Hillsborough's own toymakers the other day. Vince Krauth and his wife, Leona, moved to the South a few years ago, bringing along Vince's hobby of woodworking.
Listening to the couple illustrate the behind-the-scenes work of a toymaker, the intricacies, the fine touches, even the inspiration--it was clear by the fire in their eyes how much they loved this passion they have dedicated so much of their lives to. And it is a commitment, from what they said: the craft shows, the traveling.
It's been a while since I felt that thrill only a toy shop can bring, but I certainly felt the stirring of a shadow in my heart when I stepped into the garage-turned-workshop and saw the wooden trains, the cars, the trucks even the mini table and chairs for dolls' tea parties. I could only laugh knowingly as Vince's grandson snuck in behind us to fiddle with a wooden crane. Oh to have that fascination again!
Vince's toys had a way of bringing that back.
For more on the story, see the Wednesday, Aug. 8, edition of the News of Orange.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Photos for sale

We now have the ability to sell our picture on our website! It's the Buy Photos icon on the top right of the homepage. We're working on putting up some pictures from 2012--currently we have the pictures from July Last Fridays and Partnership Academy's 2012 graduation. If you have any requests for pictures you'd like to buy, let us know!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

When the PR person for first contacted me, I thought the whole concept sounded a little strange. At first, honestly, I thought it was a telemarketer of some kind.
But I asked her to email me the information anyway, and, once I read it, I was fascinated. What a concept! A website that lets people post goods and services that they either love to do or want to get rid of anyway--all to benefit a nonprofit.
It's a win-win situation. So the way it works is a person, referred to as an actor, posts a good or service on the site, similar to Craigslist. It can be an item such as a dresser you want to get rid of or some books you don't need anymore. It can also be a service; some I have seen are mowing the lawn, babysitting, painting a portrait or working as a job coach.
The actor assigns a value to whatever they're selling--say $25 to mow your lawn and picks a nonprofit to benefit. And that's where a sponsor comes in. Sponsors are the ones who purchase the good or service.
The bonus here is you can browse Benefacting's website for things that you already need so that money you've already budgeted for X, Y or Z not only gets your bike fixed or that kitchen table you wanted but also helps a charity--maybe something you couldn't have afforded to do otherwise.
Also, the sponsor pays online through a secure site that sends the money directly to the nonprofit; the actor never has to deal with any funds.
So the actor wins: She can help out a nonprofit doing something she loves, donating time (especially nice if money is limited) in a convenient and efficient way for her. The sponsor wins: He gets something he either wants or needs while also donating money to a charity--money that goes twice as far. And the nonprofit wins: It taps into a revenue stream previously unavailable to it AND has unlimited volunteer opportunities.
Check it out at To read the full story about how it began and how it has helped nonprofits in Orange County, see the Wednesday, Aug. 1, edition of the News of Orange.