On Saturday, December 12th, Ganson's will open up their restaurant for a Kid's Holiday Christmas Party.  Santa has committed to making this celebration and tells us that he will be happy to give rides to any kids who want to see what it's like in Santa's red, horse-drawn hitch wagon.  To make this party complete, Ganson's will also offer kids face painting, a cooking activity, give them a chance to make some reindeer food and there will be plenty of hot Mulled Cider, hot Chocolate and Cookies while all of this is going on.

"This is my favorite time of year.  I enjoy seeing the wonderment in children's eyes, because Christmas is such a magical season," says Chris Thompson, co-owner of Ganson's Neighborhood Bakery and Café.

There will be two parties, one at 5:30pm and one at 7:00pm this Saturday.  This is open to the public and the cost is $35.00 for one adult and one child.  Any additional guests are $7.00 per person.  Please give us a call at 309-786-6600 to RSVP for this event.

Two families are departing from the Quad Cities; they are among the more than 1,300 Snowball Family Members traveling tto North Texas via American Airlines

FORT WORTH, Texas - More than 1,300 spouses and children of fallen military personnel will receive a Texas-sized welcome when they arrive in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex on Dec. 9, as part of the annual Snowball Express event. This is the first time Snowball Express has traveled to North Texas.

Each year, Snowball Express, a volunteer, not-for-profit organization, arranges an all-expenses-paid trip to provide hope and new memories for the children and spouses of military men and women who lost their lives while defending our nation. Mayors and governors across the U.S. have proclaimed Wednesday, Dec. 9, as "Snowball Express and American Airlines Day."

"For the families of these fallen heroes, it is a remarkable experience that can greatly help in their grieving process after sustaining such a profound loss," said Micki Sander, Snowball Express Chairperson. "It is extremely moving to hear participants talk about their experience with Snowball Express and what it has meant to them and their families."

American Airlines returns as the official airline of Snowball Express and is providing eight chartered aircraft for the Snowball families, who will be traveling from around the United States. BP is generously donating fuel for the Snowball Express aircraft.

"All of us at American Airlines are truly grateful to our military servicemen and women and their families for the sacrifices they have made to protect the freedom our country enjoys," said Roger Frizzell, Vice President Corporate Communications and Advertising at American Arilines. "This year, we are particularly excited to fly the Snowball Express families to Dallas/Fort Worth - our hometown - where they will be able to enjoy all of our area's top attractions and, of course, get the biggest and best welcome in true Texas style."

This year's Snowball Express trip runs Dec. 9-13.  The families will enjoy numerous activities, including:

· Ranch & Rodeo Day - Visits to the world-famous "Dallas" South Fork Ranch, as well as the Mesquite Championship Rodeo.

· "Day in the Life of Texas" event at the Dallas Convention Center.

· Day with the Dallas Cowboys and Dallas Mavericks, which includes meeting with the Dallas Cowboys football players and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders for football and cheerleading clinics. Entertainment will be provided by award-winning actor Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band.

· The Dallas Mavericks have also generously donated American Airlines Center seats for Snowball families to attend the Mavericks' Dec. 12 game against the Charlotte Bobcats.

· Several restaurants including Eddie Dean's, Mi Cocina, Humperdink's, and Chili's-as well as Ben E. Keith Company-are donating meals to feed Snowball families

Including volunteers and donors, this year's Snowball Express event in North Texas will bring together nearly 2,000 people to pay tribute to these fallen American heroes and to create new memories for their families.  To find out more about becoming a sponsor, or to view the list of all Snowball Express corporate and non-profit sponsors, please visit http://www.snowballexpress.org/partners/partners.html

About Snowball Express

The mission of Snowball Express, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, is to provide hope and new memories for the children of fallen military heroes who have died in active duty since 9/11.  Since 2006, Snowball Express has hosted an annual event that brings children of fallen military heroes together for a few days of fun.  In 2007, nearly 800 children and more than 300 surviving spouses attended the annual Snowball Express event.  Snowball Express has no paid staff.  It has approximately 25 volunteers who work year round on the "main event."  Ninety-seven percent of all collected cash donations go directly to the event.  When in-kind donations of more than $3 million are included, the total percentage of funds expended for fundraising and general administrative costs is less than one percent. www.snowballexpress.org

Holiday events to be held at two of The Arc of Rock Island County's facilities this week may determine who has more pull?Santa Claus or the Quad City Mallards.  Individuals enrolled in The Arc's Developmental Training and RAP (Retired and Proud) programs at the Opportunity Center in Moline will kick off the holiday season with a special visit from the Quad City Mallards during a Meet-and-Greet event on Tuesday, December 8, 2009, from 1-2 p.m.  The event, the highlight of this year's annual Christmas party, will take place at The Arc's Opportunity Center located at 5101 52nd Avenue in Moline.  Individuals will also enjoy lunch, activities, and making holiday crafts.  The Arc Holiday Choir will circulate with Santa and serenade participants with Christmas carols in each of the classrooms as the QC Mallards join them in spreading the holiday cheer.

On Friday, December 11, 2009, individuals working at Arc Industries and those enrolled in The Arc's Work Services, Developmental Training, and day programs in Rock Island will celebrate the season with a Christmas lunch followed by a holiday program beginning at 1 p.m. The program features Santa's guest appearance, a concert performance of The Arc Holiday Choir, and a Christmas Dance.  The luncheon, concert performance, and dance will take place at Arc Industries, 610 37th Avenue in Rock Island.

The winter weather is not likely to impact the fun this week as Santa's sleigh is equipped to handle the snow and the Mallards are experts on ice.  Both events are closed to the public.  For more information about these holiday celebrations, contact Maureen Dickinson, director of development and communications for The Arc of Rock Island County, at 309-786-6474 or dickinsonm@arcric.org.

Founded in 1952, The Arc of Rock Island County serves more than 300 individuals with developmental disabilities daily.  Day programs are offered in both Moline and Rock Island.  The mission of The Arc is living and working in partnership with the community to support individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.


Write Letters, Letters and More Letters!

Our care package recipients often tell us that their favorite item in the package is the personal letter written by a fellow citizen from home.  Operation Gratitude strives to include several letters of appreciation in every package that we send...which means we need hundreds of thousands of letters! Teachers and Parents: We especially ask for children's letters. Please include your address or e-mail in each letter so the recipient can choose to write back. For more information about our letter writing campaign, click here or email opgrat@gmail.com

(ROCK ISLAND, IL) - Royal Neighbors of America is hosting a special presentation to deliver cash donations to area families.  The check presentations will take place at the Community Center, December 5, 1:00 p.m. in Durant, Iowa.

"It is as neighbors that we have the most direct and personal influence on each other's lives," said Cynthia Tidwell, President/CEO of Royal Neighbors of America.  "By using our insurance earnings to support these efforts, Royal Neighbors is changing one life at a time."

In the past two years, Royal Neighbors has given over $650,000 to more than 500 individuals or families in need across the country. It is a tangible expression of neighbor-helping-neighbor, the philosophy the organization was founded on. Hundreds of nominations have been received from Royal Neighbors members and its independent insurance agents.

Royal Neighbors of America is a non-profit fraternal life insurance organization dedicated to helping women and their families for close to 115 years. It insures lives, supports women, and serves communities by offering insurance and annuity products. Its members receive valuable benefits and can participate in a variety of local volunteer activities.

Headquartered in Rock Island, IL, Royal Neighbors serves nearly 250,000 members and is licensed to do business in 42 states and the District of Columbia.

For more information about Royal Neighbors of America, call (800) 627-4762, or visit www.royalneighbors.org.


Governor Culver Addresses Delegates, Answers Farmers' Questions

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA - Dec. 4, 2009 --Farm Bureau members from across Iowa gathered in downtown Des Moines December 2 and 3 to discuss innovations which can help farmers remain viable through these tough economic times.

Governor Culver visited with members at the start of the meeting and discussed the budget shortfall and possible impacts on a variety of state programs.  Culver is required to propose his new fiscal budget by January and Farm Bureau members let the Governor know that agriculture is already being negatively impacted during this economic downturn, noting that additional regulations and restrictions would compound the problem and break the backs of family farmers and other small businesses.  The Governor had declared the week of November 28 - December 5 as "Iowa Farm Bureau Week," in honor of the work done by IFBF supporting the people, progress and pride of Iowa.

Seed genetics which can boost the drought and pest-resistance of corn and soybeans were discussed during one of several forums for farmers during the IFBF meeting.  The executives of Syngenta, Pioneer Hi-Bred and Monsanto discussed new seed development of "stacked" corn seeds containing herbicide and corn pest resistances. The seed developers agreed that the time needed to get government approval for distribution has increased at least six-fold in the last five years, and farmers are waiting and needing that seed technology. The seed breeders also discussed the important role Iowa farmers will continue to play in developing drought, pest and disease-resistant strains to help meet the growing food demands of India and China. "We need to increase production, both globally and locally. They're not making more land," said Bill Niebur, Pioneer Hi-Bred vice president for crop genetics research and development.

Another popular forum was the discussion of electric power regulation, generation and distribution. Roger Tjarks, director of Heartland Power REC, Greg Watkins of the Iowa Office of Energy Dependence and Kenric Scheevel of Dairlyand Power Cooperative led a lively discussion with farmers. Since Iowa is now second in the nation in wind energy production, the subject of how to sustain or build on that success was a hot topic. "There will be a buildup of wind (energy generation) in two years, but wind energy is not cheap," said Tjarks. "As long as we can't get it out of here, we'll pay the price in Iowa."

The issue of renewable energy and technology is tantamount to overcoming economic obstacles that threaten the continuation of many good, Iowa family farmers.  IFBF President Craig Lang told members during his annual address that embracing innovation is the key to family farm survival.  "Iowa can be so much more than a commodity-driven economy. We shouldn't be satisfied with only food, fiber and energy from our soils.

We must reach into the creative minds of our farmers and universities to create a 'Living Economy'--- one that is renewed --- not mined and harvested from a shrinking global supply. Iowa's future is in capturing the renewable value of the sun, soil, and rain that falls freely from the sky," said Lang. "Combining these resources with a strong and growing livestock and poultry industry will add millions to rural communities, now in search for new revenue because of declining rural opportunities."

For more information about IFBF's 91st Annual Meeting, including a detailed list of award winners, photos and IFBF President Craig Lang's Annual Meeting address, visit www.iowafarmbureau.com.

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The Arc of Rock Island County is pleased to announce the expansion of residential services for individuals with developmental disabilities.  This month The Arc will add one new Rock Island group home to its options for community integrated living arrangements (CILAs).   For the past several months contractors have worked diligently towards the goal of having the eight residents situated in their new home by the holidays.  Area businesses, service clubs and organizations are offered the opportunity to "adopt" The Arc's new group home.

Executive Director Kyle Rick explains there is a history of the community's adoption of group homes.  Rick states, "Right now we have an active relationship between UnitedHealthcare employees and one of our Moline group homes.  They seem to know just what the individuals need, whether it's a home-cooked meal for Thanksgiving or a special occasion, cookouts, decorations for holidays, or birthday cards and cakes."  The rewards are

two-way.  The people adopting the group home become a second "family" by visiting the individuals, and the value of this friendship is priceless.  The loving gratitude the UnitedHealthcare employees receive in return warms the heart.

With the opening of a newly renovated group home there are many immediate opportunities to volunteer as well.  The Arc welcomes volunteers available during the day and willing to pull off wallpaper, prep for painting, paint, and move in furnishings.  The driving force is having the individuals celebrate Christmas 2009 in their new home.

For more information about adopting The Arc's new group home in Rock Island or volunteering for these final preparations, contact Stacey Cary, associate executive director of administrative services, at 309-786-6474 or carys@arcric.org.

Founded in 1952, The Arc of Rock Island County serves more than 300 individuals with developmental disabilities daily.  The Arc owns and operates intermediate care facilities and group homes in both Rock Island and Moline.  The mission of The Arc is living and working in partnership with the community to support individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.


Celebrate the joy of the season!  Join us for Rivermont Collegiate's Annual Holiday Open House, to be held Saturday, December 12th from 4:00 - 7:00 p.m.  The Rivermont Collegiate campus is home to the Historic Joseph Bettendorf Mansion, built on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi in 1915.  Featuring Italian marble, painted ceilings, and hand carved woodwork, the Mansion is listed on the National Historic Register.  The Annual Holiday Open House is a chance for the community to view the Mansion in all its splendor, beautifully decorated for the holidays!

Rivermont Collegiate is located at 1821 Sunset Drive in Bettendorf, directly off 18th Street behind K&K Hardware.  Drop in between 4:00 and 7:00 p.m. for light refreshments and tours of this local gem!  This event is open to the public and dress is casual - please RSVP to Brittany Marietta at (563) 359-1366 ext. 301 or marietta@rvmt.org.  Rivermont Collegiate is the Quad Cities' only private, independent, nonsectarian college-prep school for preschool through twelfth grade - visit us online at www.rivermontcollegiate.org!

The Christmas Village Exhibit

The village exhibit includes the collection of Arlene Rose Considine, of Clinton, Iowa. These houses will be nestled among the vintage and log houses. A 7-foot German feather tree decorated with German ornaments from 1850 -1930 will also be displayed. Additional unique German ornaments will also be showcased. 

The German Immigrant Experience Exhibit

Enjoy an interactive experience as you learn about immigrants' journies by sea, train and foot, to their final destination at the German American Heritage Center building, which was originally a very busy hotel for thousands of immigrants in the 1860s. Two original hotel rooms are included. The second half of the exhibit shows contributions to the region by immigrants, and highlights daily life, from recreation, family life, religion and organizations.


Stop in our museum gift shop until December 23rd for gifts imported from Germany: Nutcrackers, Steins, Glass Ornaments and Smokers.

Give the gift that gives all year long this holiday season.

Gift memberships are available now through December 23, 2009 for $5 off the regular membership price as shown below. Membership benefits include free admission to the museum and special exhibits all year, free programs, discounts and special member-only events. Contact us at (563) 322-8844 or visit www.gahc.org

INDIVIDUAL $30 (Regular price,$35)

(Regular price, $45)

(Regular price, $55)

(Regular price, $55)
To ring in the holiday season, the public is invited to a traditional bell choir and zither concert this Sunday, December 6, 2009 at the Downtown Davenport YMCA.  The concert is coordinated by the German American Heritage Center.

Admission is $5 per person or free for members of the German American Heritage Center.

The concert features the St. Mark Celebration Bell Choir and the National Zither Ensemble of the German American Heritage Center. Traditional Christmas songs will include "O Come, Little Children," "Still, Still, Still," "Oh, How Joyfully," "Silent Night (with Lisa Crews on flute)," and "Ding Dong Merrily on High."