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Great holiday gifts for kids that help them learn and grow

(StatePoint) It’s time to think about stuffing stockings and fulfilling wish lists. But if you want your holiday gifts for kids to deliver fun long after the holidays, you may want to consider gifts that will help them learn and grow.

Here are some great gift ideas to enrich kids’ lives in a number of ways.

Boost Creativity

Art can inspire creativity, improve fine motor skills and even boost IQ. For beginners, art or crafting kits containing all the supplies they will need to create their own projects may be a great place to start.

Thinking bigger? Consider helping your gift recipient create an artist’s studio. A craft or art table, an easel and a project caddy make a great combination gift for kids.

Spark Imagination

For toddlers, play time can be an extremely valuable opportunity to build skills and reach milestones — with the right toys at hand. Maximize toddler fun with toys such as VTech’s Go! Go! Smart Wheels playsets, which spark imagination and deliver multi-sensory learning, teaching first words, letters and more.

The line-up includes the new Launch & Chase Police Tower, which lets kids serve and protect with Po the Police Car. They can launch Po from the dual launchers and chase the Getaway Car through the switch tracks, trap doors, and road obstacles, promoting important motor skills. Po responds to SmartPoint locations throughout the playset with lights, sounds and music, encouraging first words and imaginative play.

Another option from the line-up is the Tow & Go Garage, letting kids explore along with Trent the Tow Truck as they exercise important motor skills with this multi-level interactive playset. They can give a friend a lift, go up the elevator to the repair platform, or race down the ramp and get a car wash while exploring SmartPoint locations.

Lastly, the interactive Go! Go! Smart Wheels Take Flight Airport playset strengthens fine motor skills as kids fuel up at the gas station, spin the weather vane and check bags at the luggage belt. They can also launch Aaron the Airplane to take off for flight, spin around the clouds and use the ramp to make a safe landing.

Encourage Movement

Habits formed in childhood can set the precedent for a lifetime. View gift-giving as an opportunity to encourage kids to engage in healthy hobbies. Whether it’s a baseball glove and bat or a set of skates and protective gear, you can encourage kids to get active in a way that’s fun, by outfitting them with all the equipment they need to play their favorite sports.

This holiday season, make sure your gifts for kids go further to enrich, engage and educate.

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Cheap skates

After being away on business for a week before Christmas, Tom thought it would be nice to bring his wife a little gift.

“How about some perfume?” he asked the cosmetics clerk. She showed him a bottle costing $50.

“That’s a bit much,” said Tom, so she returned with a smaller bottle for $30.

“Thats still quite a bit,” Tom groused.

Growing disgusted, the clerk brought out a tiny $15 bottle.

Tom grew agitated. “What I mean,” he said, “is I’d like to see something real cheap.”

So the clerk handed him a mirror.

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Hometown Happenings

Sand Lake Family Christmas 


Dec. 8: Join us on Saturday, December 8th from 9:30 am – 3 pm at the VFW for the Sand Lake Family Christmas Celebration. “Selfie” with Santa, 9:30 – 11:30 am, cookies, crafts and Christmas Gift Drawing. #49

Praise the Lord at Cowboy Church

Dec. 9: 2nd Chance will be having Cowboy Church on Sunday, December 9th at 6 pm. It will be at 2nd Chance School at 810 – 17 Mile Rd. Cedar Springs (corner of 17 Mile and Olin Lakes Rd). Cedar Springs United Methodist Church Acoustic Music Group will share their message and musical talents. Invite your family and friends. Cowboy Church will be every 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month. Each service will have different people sharing God’s word and music. Cowboy Church will introduce you to 2nd Chance and its vision. The school is in the building stage, which when completed, will teach troubled teens through God and the horse. If you have questions, call 616-293-2150. See you there! #49b

Revival Services at Pilgrim Bible Church

Dec.9-16: Join us for Revival Services at Pilgrim Bible Church, 361 Pine St., Cedar Springs with Evangelist Rev. John Case. Special music provided by Bro. and Sis. Case. Sunday, December 9th thru Sunday, December 16th. Service times are Sunday, December 9th at 10:45 am and 6 pm. Monday – Friday at 7 pm. Sunday, December 16th at 10:30 am and 6 pm. Everyone is welcome. For more information, contact Elwyn Joslin at 616-862-3435. #49,50b

Gingerbread Lane @ KDL

Dec. 13,15: Jump into the holiday spirit with some family-friendly festivities! Listen to seasonal music while each child builds their own simple gingerbread house. Registration is required.
Thursday, December 13, 6:30 pm at Spencer Twp. KDL, 14960 Meddler Ave., Gowen. Saturday, December 15, 11:00 am at Nelson Twp./Sand Lake KDL, 88 Eighth St. 616-784-2007 or visit www.kdl.org. #49

Christmas Bake Sale at Independent Bank Sand Lake

Dec. 14: Homemade goodies for your Christmas gatherings or just for your sweet tooth. Friday December 14th  from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm at Sand Lake Independent Bank (corner of Northland and Lake Street). Offered by Sand Lake United Methodist Women. #49,50b

Cookie Walk – North Kent Presbyterian Church

Dec. 15: North Kent Presbyterian Church will host its 20th Annual Christmas Cookie Walk Saturday morning, December 15th from 9:00 am to noon (or until gone). Just $8.00/box or 4 boxes/$30.00…Public VERY welcome! Choose your own selection from more than 25 varieties of delicious homemade Christmas cookies. The church is located at 6175 Kuttshill Drive NE, Rockford (1 block west of Wolverine Blvd., north of Rogue River,  just north of Blythefield Country Club.) Come early for a great selection! Cookies make great gifts for neighbors, teachers, mail carriers, and friends, too! For further information contact our church office at 616-866-2230 Tuesday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. #49,50p

The Story of Christmas

Dec. 16: The Story of Christmas (music & drama) will be presented on Sunday, December 16th at 10 am. Hillcrest Community Church of God, 5994 – 18 Mile Rd., Cedar Springs, 616-696-9333. Come and see #JesusChangesEverything. #47-50p

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Out of the loop

Mr. Norton was in the hospital recovering from an operation, when the nurse on duty received a call from a man who asked how Mr. Norton was doing.

“Oh, quite well,” she told the caller. “We expect he’ll be released in the morning.”

“Very good, thank you.”

“May I ask who is calling so that I can tell Mr. Norton?” inquired the nurse.

The man chuckled. “This is Mr. Norton. The doctors don’t tell me anything!”

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Postal Service ready to deliver holiday cheer

Including more than 900 million packages

The U.S. Postal Service expects to deliver nearly 15 billion pieces of mail and 900 million packages, for a total of nearly 16 billion cheerful deliveries this holiday season–the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

“The Postal Service is ready to deliver for the holiday season. We have increased our operating capacity to include additional transportation and extended our delivery windows,” said Megan J. Brennan, Postmaster General and CEO. “Our dedicated employees are proud to deliver more packages to homes than any other shipper.”

Once again the Postal Service is expanding its Sunday delivery operations to locations with high package volumes beginning Nov. 25. The Postal Service already delivers packages on Sundays in most major cities, and anticipates delivering more than 8 million packages on Sundays this December. Mail carriers will also deliver packages on Christmas Day in select locations.

Delivering for the Troops and Overseas

The Postal Service also processes mail for overseas Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of State (DoS) recipients. Interestingly, the DoD measures their mail volumes in pounds not pieces, and it’s expected that the Postal Service will process more than 16 million pounds of mail for DoD and DoS recipients between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.

Busiest Mailing and Delivery Days

With an increase in early and online shopping for gifts, there is no longer a “busiest day” for holiday shipping. Instead, the Postal Service’s busiest time is now two weeks before Christmas. Starting the week of Dec. 10, customer traffic is expected to increase, and the Postal Service expects to deliver nearly 200 million packages per week during these two weeks. The week of Dec. 17-23 is predicted to be the busiest mailing, shipping and delivery week, when nearly 3 billion pieces of First-Class Mail, including greeting cards, will be processed and delivered.

Skip the Trip and Ship Online

 Consumers don’t even have to leave home to ship their packages, simply visit usps.com. The Postal Service anticipates Dec. 17 will be the Postal Service’s busiest day online with more than 8 million consumers predicted to visit usps.com for help shipping that special holiday gift. It’s predicted that nearly 105 million consumers will visit our website between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. And usps.com is always open.

It’s estimated nearly 400,000 consumers will use the Click-N-Ship feature and other online services on Dec. 17 to order free Priority Mail boxes, print shipping labels, purchase postage and even request free next-day Package Pickup.

What’s New this Year

Informed Delivery is the Postal Service’s free daily digital preview of what’s coming to your mailbox. This holiday season not only can you manage your packages and sneak a peek at cards headed your way, you can also see some exterior images of magazines and catalogs—all from your mobile app, dashboard, tablet or computer. Informed Delivery is one more way the Postal Service is helping you anticipate, communicate and celebrate this holiday season.

2018 Holiday Shipping Deadlines

The Postal Service recommends the following mailing and shipping deadlines*:

Dec. 4 APO/FPO/DPO (ZIP Code 093 only) Priority Mail and First-Class Mail

Dec. 11 APO/FPO/DPO (all other ZIP Codes) Priority Mail and First-Class Mail

Dec. 14 USPS Retail Ground

Dec. 18 APO/FPO/DPO (except ZIP Code 093) USPS Priority Mail Express

Dec. 20 First-Class Mail (including greeting cards)

Dec. 20 First-class packages (up to 15.99 ounces)

Dec. 20 Hawaii to mainland Priority Mail and First-Class Mail

Dec. 20 Priority Mail

Dec. 20 Alaska to mainland Priority Mail and First-Class Mail

Dec. 22 Alaska to mainland Priority Mail Express

Dec. 22 Hawaii to mainland Priority Mail Express

Dec. 22 Priority Mail Express

*Not a guarantee, unless otherwise noted. Dates are for estimated delivery before December 25. Actual delivery date may vary depending on origin, destination, Post Office acceptance date and time and other conditions. Some restrictions apply. For Priority Mail Express shipments mailed December 22 through December 25, the money-back guarantee applies only if the shipment was not delivered, or delivery was not attempted, within two (2) business days.

Additional news and information, including all domestic, international and military mailing and shipping deadlines, can be found at the Postal Service Holiday Newsroom at usps.com/holidaynews.

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

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Thanksgiving fun

Q: Why did the police arrest the turkey?

A: They suspected it of fowl play.

Q: Why did they let the turkey join the band?

A: Because he had the drumsticks

Q: What happened to the Pilgrim who was shot at by an Indian?

A: He had an arrow escape.

Q: What’s the best dance to do on Thanksgiving?

A: The turkey trot

Q: What kind of music did the Pilgrims like?

A: Plymouth Rock.

Q: Who is not hungry at Thanksgiving?

A: The turkey because he’s already stuffed!

Q: Why can’t you take a turkey to church?

A: Because they use such fowl language.

Q: How do you keep a turkey in suspense?

A: I’ll let you know next week.

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Host families needed for teens

Host families are needed for two different teens. Both arealready in the area, but need to nd a family. One attendsCedar Springs High School, and one attends Creative Tech- nologies Academy.

A host family is needed for a 17-year-old girl from Cen- tral Asia for the rest of the current school year. She is in the US on a full scholarship from FLEX. She has her own spending money and insurance. She loves shopping, and other things teens love to do. A loving family is needed to provide a bed, 3 meals a day and the desire to includeher in the life of their family. Need to nd a family in theCedar Springs School district. She currently attends Ce- dar Springs High School and would like to stay there. Forquestions, please contact ASSE Representative El Ristau616.272.9473.

A host family is also needed for Binh, a senior boy from Viet Nam who attends Creative Technologies Academy. He has excellent English skills, outstanding academics, and is extremely polite. This is his second year in the UnitedStates. He spent last year in Georgia and the rst thing youwill notice is his southern charm. He enjoys playing sports, hanging out with friends, watching American movies, and playing sports. Host families provide the student with room and board as well as some transportation and guidance. Students come with their own spending money and insur-ance. For more info on Binh contact the ECEP of ce at616-951-7010 or email ecep@ecepnet.org.

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Jane Eyre at the Kent Theatre

Actors del Arte Ensem- ble of West Michigan is a Rockford based theater group that has been doing theater productions Drama and Comedy since 2002. We are proud to present a well-loved classic that has stood the test of time and is just in time for the Hol- idays. Charlotte Bronte’sJane Eyre is a brooding love story that chronicles the life of a young English girl from her childhood to agoverness at the Thorn eldEstate in London, England. It follows the footsteps of other lovelorn heroines in literary classics of that era. A great cast of local actors brings the story to life with wonderful costumes and portrayals.

You can see the production at the historic Kent Theatre at 8 N Main Street in Cedar Springs, Michigan, on Friday November 30 at 8 p.m.; Saturday, December 1 at 8 p.m.; and

Sunday, December 2 at a 2 p.m. matinee.

Buy your tickets at the

door. Adults are $10; stu- dents $5; and seniors $8.

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Hotter than you-know-what

Two guys from Michigan die and wake up in hell. The devil stops to check on them and sees them dressed in parkas, mittens and bomber hats, warming themselves around the fire. The devil asks them, “What are you doing? Isn’t it hot enough for you?”

The two guys reply, “Well, you know, we’re from Michigan, the land of ice and snow and cold. We’re just happy for a chance to warm up a bit, ya know.”

The devil decides that these two aren’t miserable enough and turns up the heat. The next morning, he stops by again and there they are, still dressed in their winter gear. The devil asks again, “It’s awfully hot down here, can’t you guys feel that?”

“Well, like we told you yesterday, we’re from Michigan, the land of ice and snow and cold. We’re just happy to warm up a little bit, ya know.”

The devil gets steamed and decides to fix the two guys. He cranks the heat up as high as it will go. People are wailing and screaming everywhere. He stops by the room with the two guys from Michigan and finds them in light jackets and hats, grilling sausage and drinking beer. The devil is astonished. “Everyone down here is in abject misery, and you seem to be enjoying yourselves.”

The two Michiganders reply, “Well, ya know, we don’t get too much warm weather in Michigan, so we’ve got to have a cookout when the weather is this nice.”

The devil is furious. Finally, he comes up with a plan. These two love the heat because they have been cold all their lives. He decides to turn all the heat in hell off.

The next morning, the temperature is below zero, icicles are hanging everywhere, and people are shivering so badly, they are unable to wail, moan or gnash their teeth. The devil smiles and heads for the room with the two Michiganders. He finds them back in their parkas, mittens and hats,  jumping up and down and cheering. The devil was dumbfounded. “I don’t understand. When I turn the heat up, you’re happy. Now it’s freezing cold, and you’re happy. What is wrong with you two?”

The Michiganders look at the devil in surprise. “Well, don’t ya know? If hell froze over, that must mean the Lions won the Super Bowl!”

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Hometown Happenings

Fundraising Auction for Pine Ridge Bible Camp

Nov. 17: Silent & Live Fundraising Auction for Pine Ridge Bible Camp, Saturday, November 17th at the Cedar Springs High School Cafeteria. Registration starts at 5:30 pm. Silent Auction begins at 6:00 pm. Appetizers and desserts will be provided. This is an adult only event. We currently have donations, homemade items and gift baskets from many businesses and organizations. #45,46

Courtland Oakfield UMC Holiday Bazaar

Nov. 17: Courtland Oakfield United Methodist Church, 10295 Myers Lake Ave., Rockford (between 12 & 13 Mile Rd.), will hold its 18th Annual Holiday Bazaar on Saturday, November 17th from 9 am – 3 pm. Over 40 crafters, Grandma’s attic, bake sale, silent auction, cookies by the pound, lunch from 11 am to 2 pm. #45,46b

Michigan Blood Drive

Nov. 20: Tuesday, November 20th at the Cedar Springs United Methodist Church located at 140 S Main Cedar Springs. The drive is will go from 12:30 pm until 7 pm. To schedule an appointment visit https://donate.miblood.org/donor/schedules/drive_schedule/99604. Don’t forget that homemade cookies will be provided by the Cedar Springs Women’s Club. #46

Help Promote Literacy

Nov. 21,30: The need is urgent! The Literacy Center of West Michigan is offering an informational meeting on Wednesday, November 21st at 10 am and Friday, November 30th at 2 pm for prospective volunteer tutors. It will last one hour. It provides potential volunteers the opportunity to find out more about the Literacy Center and the role of a volunteer tutor. No experience necessary! We provide our volunteers with all the training they need to be successful tutors for our adult learners. The Literacy Center of West Michigan is located at 1120 Monroe Ave., NW, Suite 240, Grand Rapids. Please call 616-459-5151 (ext. 10) or email us at info@literacycenterwm.org to register. #46

Thanksgiving Dinner For All!

Nov. 22: We will be serving a full dinner on Thanksgiving at The Springs Church. We will eat at 1:00 at the corner of Oak & Grant Streets. The football game will be on and we would love to have you join us! #46,47b

Sand Lake Lions Club Variety Sale

Nov. 24: The Sand Lake Lions Club will host a Variety Sale on Saturday, November 24th from 9 am – 3 pm at the Sand Lake United Methodist Church ED building. Located on the corner of 6th and Maple Streets. Antiques/Vintage collectibles and crafts, quality used clothing, miscellaneous items. #46

Sand Lake Tree Lighting and Caroling

Nov. 25: The Village Churches and Sand Lake Chamber invites you to come out on Sunday Nov 25th from 5:30-6:00 pm for a Caroling and Tree Lighting at the SE Corner of the Park. Special Music by Resurrection Lutheran Preschool. Come early for Children’s Games and Face Painting and Hot Dog Fund Raiser at Mary Queen of Apostles Hall beginning at 4:30 pm.  Hot Dog Fund Raiser will be 4:30-7:30 pm. Proceeds go to United Methodist Hall Repair. #46,47b

Hot Dog Fund Raiser

Nov 25:  4:30-7:30 pm. At Mary Queen of Apostles Hall.  Proceeds go to United Methodist Hall Repair. #46,47b

Live Indoor Nativity – Our Free Gift to You

Nov. 30: Friday Nov 30th  6:00-8:00 pm & Saturday Dec 1st  1:00-3:00 pm. Shepherds watching, Angels singing, Wise men searching and the Christ child. Live animals will greet you. Enjoy the refreshments & Stay as long as you like at the Sand Lake United Methodist Church. #46,47b

Christmas Card Making Class

Nov. 30: Christmas Card Making Class will be held on Friday, November 30th from 9am-Noon at the Cedar Springs Public Schools Administration . Participants will create up to 20 cards using stamp, punches, embellishments and more. These are a great way to send special notes over the holidays or attach with gifts. The course is $35 and includes most supplies. Please bring you own adhesive stickers and scissors. Registration deadline is November 19th and can be done through Cedar Springs Area Parks and Recreation. Forms are online at www.csaparksandrec.com or at their office in the CSPS Hilltop Building. #45,46b

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