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Make a Lasting, Positive Impact This Holiday Season: Give Family and Friends Gifts from the Arbor Day Foundation PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Arbor Day Foundation   
Monday, 31 October 2011 14:04

Nebraska City, Neb. – Celebrate the holiday season with friends and loved ones this year and give back to the Earth at the same time with the help of the nonprofit Arbor Day Foundation.

Send holiday greetings and plant a tree – all at the same time – by using the Foundation's Give-A-Tree cards. Give-A-Tree cards are unique in that every card plants a tree in one of our National Forests in honor of the recipient. By sending Give-A-Tree cards, you are helping to replant forests that have been devastated by wildfires, insects and disease. Give-A-Tree holiday cards come in 20 varieties. This year, an option is available to customize Give-A-Tree cards, including using your favorite picture in a Give-A-Tree photo card.

When you give the gift of Arbor Day Specialty Coffee, you're helping to preserve the Earth's precious rain forests. Arbor Day Specialty Coffee is shade-grown under the canopy of Latin American rain forests. Unlike sun-grown coffee plantations, this traditional shade-grown method gives the coffee a delicious, rich flavor and helps preserve the rain forest as part of the Foundation's Rain Forest Rescue program.

The Foundation's Trees in Celebration program allows the giver to honor loved ones while at the same time making a positive impact on the environment. Trees in Celebration includes a certificate for the recipient, and for each dollar donated a tree is planted in a damaged forest.

Give special friends a membership to the Arbor Day Foundation, and they will also receive 10 free trees. A membership costs $10, and includes many great benefits, including 10 free trees that will be shipped at the right time of year for planting.

"The holidays are a time for thinking about others, and as you do, take a moment to think about what you can do to protect the beauty and splendor of the Earth," said John Rosenow, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. "We encourage everyone to give gifts that will have a lasting impact on the world for generations to come."

To purchase holiday gifts that give back to the Earth, go to


FOR KIDS: Halloween Safety and Health Tips from the Experts PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Brant Rawls   
Tuesday, 25 October 2011 14:59

Halloween is one of the most exciting holidays for children because they can dress up in elaborate costumes and act out of character. However, as the sun goes down and trick-or-treaters start roaming the streets of your neighborhood, there are several things to worry about as a parent or guardian. Potentially hazardous costumes or accessories, tainted candy and crossing the street at night without supervision are only a few concerns that should be addressed prior to a child leaving the house.

Children ages 5-14 are four times more likely to be killed while walking on Halloween evening compared with other evenings of the year. Falls are the leading cause of injuries among children on Halloween. Halloween is a fun time for children, but it also is an important time to be extra vigilant for possible safety hazards—so that your children have a fun and safe Halloween.

Beverly Losman, with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Safe Kids Georgia offers these tips to parents who want to make this a safe Halloween:

  • Avoid costumes with excessive flowing fabric, such as capes or sleeves. Loose clothing can easily brush up against a jack-o-lantern or other open flame, causing your child’s costume to catch on fire.
  • Make sure your child’s costume fits properly. Oversized costumes and footwear, such as clown or adult shoes, can cause your child to trip and fall, bringing them home with more scrapes and bruises than candy. Avoid wearing hats that will slide over their eyes.
  • Accessorize with flexible props, such as rubber swords or knives. Inflexible props can cause serious injury in case of a fall.
  • Apply face paint or cosmetics directly to the face, and make sure it is non-toxic and hypoallergenic. A loose-fitting mask can obstruct a child's vision. If a mask is worn, be certain it fits securely. Cut the eyeholes large enough for full vision.
  • If possible, choose a brightly colored costume that drivers can spot easily. If not, decorate his costume with reflective tape and stickers.
  • Always supervise children under the age of 13. Older children should trick-or-treat in a group, and a curfew should be established for them. Attach the name, address and phone number (including area code) of children under age 13 to their clothes in case they get separated from adults. Have each child carry a cell phone or some loose change in case they need to call home or get lost.
  • Children should only go to well-lit houses and remain on the porch within street view. Teach your child to cross the street only at crosswalks or intersections. Make sure he understands never to cross between parked cars and to always look both ways before crossing. Remind your child to stay on the sidewalk, if possible, and to walk facing traffic. Children should walk, not run, and avoid using shortcuts across backyards or alleys. Use flashlights when trick-or-treating in the dark.
  • Remind your child not to eat any treats before you have a chance to examine them thoroughly for holes and punctures. Throw away all treats that are homemade or unwrapped. To help prevent your children from munching, give them a snack or light meal before they go trick-or-treating.
  • Parents of food-allergic children must read every candy label in their child’s Halloween bag to avoid a potentially life-threatening situation for the child.


*If you use any of these tips in your publication, please credit them to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta*

Roughly two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in properties without working smoke alarms PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Lorraine Carli   
Tuesday, 25 October 2011 14:56

New report focuses on smoke alarm effectiveness

October 25, 2011 – In 2005-2009, roughly two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in properties without working smoke alarms, according to the report “Smoke Alarms in U.S. Home Fires,” released by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The report examines the number of reported fires in U.S. households with and without working smoke alarms, as well as the effectiveness of smoke alarms in preventing fire-related deaths.

“Working smoke alarms are essential in saving lives from fire,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of communications for NFPA. “We know you can have as little as three minutes to get out if you have a fire before it becomes deadly. The early warning provided by smoke alarms gives you extra time to escape.”

Key findings from the report include:

•        The death rate per 100 reported fires was twice as high in homes without a working smoke alarm as it was in home fires with smoke alarm protection.

•        Out of all home fire deaths, 38 percent resulted from fires in which no smoke alarms were present.

•        Hardwired smoke alarms are more reliable than those powered solely by batteries.

•        Many homes do not have the protection recommended in recent editions of NFPA 72®, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, which requires interconnected smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the home.

NFPA recommendations:

•          Install smoke alarms inside every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.

•          For the best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms so when one sounds they all sound.

•          Use both photoelectric and ionization smoke alarms or combination ionization and photoelectric alarms, also known as dual sensor alarms. An ionization smoke alarm is generally more responsive to flaming fires and a photoelectric smoke alarm is generally more responsive to smoldering fires.

•          Replace all smoke alarms every 10 years or sooner if they do not respond properly when tested.

•          Test all smoke alarms at least once a month by using the test button.

For more information on smoke alarms and safety tips, visit NFPA’s website at

Estimates in the report are based on data collected from fire departments and civilians that responded to the U.S. Fire Administration’s (USFA) National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS), and NFPA’s National Fire Experience Survey.

About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

NFPA is a worldwide leader in fire, electrical, building, and life safety. The mission of the international nonprofit organization founded in 1896 is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education. Visit NFPA’s website at for more information.

Praise for HELP Committee’s Bipartisan Bill to Fix No Child Left Behind PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Sen. Tom Harkin   
Tuesday, 25 October 2011 14:46

WASHINGTON—Last week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, chaired by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), approved a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act by a vote of 15-7.  The legislation overhauls the No Child Left Behind Act and ensures that that every child in Iowa and across the country receives a great education that prepares them to succeed in college and a career in the global economy.  Below are comments on the legislation from education leaders in Iowa and around the country.

Chris Bern, President, Iowa State Education Association:

“I commend Senator Harkin’s leadership in conducting bipartisan negotiations around this legislation that will have a significant effect on the quality of education students receive in Iowa’s public schools.”

Karen Rowan, President, Iowa Parent-Teacher Association

“Iowa PTA, on behalf of more than 10,000 parents, teachers, and child advocates across the state, is hopeful that comprehensive reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act will be completed this year. We applaud Senator Harkin and Senator Enzi for their leadership to fix No Child Left Behind, and look forward to working with the Committee to make needed improvements to the bill.”

Tracey Mavis, President, Iowa Head Start Association:

“Iowa Head Start Association is pleased with the results of the HELP committee Bipartisan bill to fix No Child Left Behind.  Senator Harkin has always been a Champion for Children and by his work on this bill shows that he is a driving force for all children. This bill will fix the one-size-fits-all approach created by the No Child Left Behind Act, support great teachers and principals, and ensure that all children receive the best instruction, help ensure that every student graduates from high school ready for college and a career, focus the federal government’s role on the things it does best, while giving states and communities the flexibility they need to address the unique needs of their students and schools.  These changes will help strengthen child education and help move this country forward.”

MJ Dolan, Executive Director, Iowa Association of Community College Trustees:

“Iowa’s Community Colleges support the bipartisan focus of this bill on establishing career and college readiness standards with high quality assessments for students.   We believe this legislation will assist in developing a K-12 educational system where every student has the opportunity to succeed.  Moving forward with a comprehensive reform package will enable the U.S. to remain globally competitive with our international counterparts.  IACCT looks forward to continuing its partnerships with the elementary and secondary education community to end remediation and support students in their pursuit of postsecondary education through innovative and effective partnerships. We hope that Congress moves forward quickly with this legislation.”

Mark Shriver, Save the Children:

“On behalf of Save the Children’s U.S. Programs, I am proud to endorse the Harkin/Enzi Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.  This bipartisan legislation provides important reforms for education policy, including a long overdue recognition of the needs of children in rural America.  I urge the Senate to move forward as soon as possible and work with their colleagues in the House to produce a final bipartisan bill.”

Deborah Smolover, Executive Director, America Forward:

"The America Forward Education Coalition is pleased with the Senate HELP Committee's decision to vote a bipartisan education bill out of committee.  This bill is a critical first step in moving education reform forward.  We are grateful to Chairman Harkin, Ranking Member Enzi and HELP Committee Senators who voted in favor of passage for their leadership in the effort to ensure all of our nation's children receive a quality education.  As nonprofit organizations who work as partners to schools in communities throughout the country to improve educational outcomes for our nation's students, we support provisions throughout the bill that incentivize partnerships with effective nonprofit organizations.  We also support competitive funding streams that have been included like Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation and Promise Neighborhoods.  We will continue to work to ensure these vital provisions remain in the bill as it is considered on the Senate floor.  We applaud the Senate HELP Committee’s action to move this bipartisan bill, demonstrating what is possible when we put politics aside and focus on the urgent needs of our country’s students."

Gov. Bob Wise, President, Alliance for Excellent Education:

“The Senate’s action today is particularly important for the nation’s high schools. Over 40 percent of the nation’s dropouts come from 12 percent of high schools, and, under NCLB, federal education policy did very little to turn around these schools… The bill will help to ensure that the high school diplomas students receive are meaningful—and businesses, parents and the community will know that the diploma is meaningful. Building on the work of states across the country, the legislation calls for college and career-ready standards. By raising standards and holding students to high expectations, the nation will help prepare its students for the competitive future that lies ahead.”

Jason Grumet, President, Bipartisan Policy Center:

“Yesterday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee reached a bipartisan agreement to advance legislation that would overhaul the No Child Left Behind Program. We at BPC commend Chairman Tom Harkin, Ranking Member Michael Enzi and their fellow committee members on their willingness to overcome partisan differences in the service of a greater good, and to demonstrate that consensus between the two parties is still possible… It is imperative that Republicans and Democrats continue to show the type of leadership displayed by the members of the HELP committee. Breaking through the wall of partisanship on difficult issues is vital to ensuring the future health of our country and to addressing the cynicism and discontent with Congress so evident in poll after poll.”


No Tricks - Get Halloween Treats through the Great Iowa Treasure Hunt PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Karen Austin   
Tuesday, 25 October 2011 14:40

DES MOINES, IA (10/25/2011)(readMedia)-- State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald has a vault full of unclaimed funds waiting to be passed back to its rightful owners this Halloween. Fitzgerald has plenty of treats in the form of unclaimed property waiting to be returned through the Great Iowa Treasure Hunt.

"A few names on our list may give Iowans some great Halloween costume ideas," Fitzgerald stated. "We have the dynamic duo, Batman and a Robin, a Sparrow (but no Jack), three Angels, four Marios (but no Luigi), a few Wolves, a Peter Pan, a Clown, five Wizards, several Potters (but no Harry), and we even have something for Elvis."

It doesn't matter whether you're a spook, a music icon or a superhero – anybody can have unclaimed property in the Great Iowa Treasure Hunt. The list includes names of individuals from all over the state that have lost track of money or property. "The thought of losing track of one's assets is truly frightening," Fitzgerald stated. "There's no trick involved in the Great Iowa Treasure Hunt – only treats for those who find they have property to claim. My office's goal is to return as much of the property to the rightful owners as possible."

The Great Iowa Treasure Hunt program has returned over $135 million in unclaimed property. More than 314,000 properties have been paid out since Fitzgerald started it in 1983. The money could be from forgotten savings/checking accounts, uncashed insurance benefit checks, IRA funds, lost stock and dividends, gift cards, abandoned safe deposit contents, utility refunds or deposits. When persons do not respond over an extended period of time through regular mailings from banks and corporations, the money is reported to the state treasurer's office.

For more information about the Great Iowa Treasure Hunt, please visit Treasure seekers may also write to State Treasurer Michael L. Fitzgerald, Great Iowa Treasure Hunt, Lucas State Office Building, Des Moines, IA 50319 or correspond by email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


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