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West End News Oct. 28, 2009

Frank is saving box tops to raise money for local schools
Frank is saving box tops to raise money for local schools

There are West End events that in my mind are in the "don't miss" category. The annual fundraiser at Papa Charlie's Friday, Nov. 20 is a "don't miss" for me. The fundraiser is a dinner and silent auction put on by the Birch Grove Foundation. The foundation contributes to the support of the Birch Grove Community School and many other community functions held at the Center.
Dinner is from 4 until 8 p.m. The silent auction will end in phases. One cutoff is at 7 and the other at 8. Everyone knows that fabulous things are offered at the silent auction. No telling what treasure might be waiting for you!
After dinner the pop-rock band D'Merritt will have its debut performance, beginning at 8. I know that this notice is a little early, but better early than late.
The other day I was searching through one of our junk drawers, looking for a part that I was sure that I had seen in the drawer. The part was not there, but I discovered a plastic bag with coupons from cereal box tops and some milk bottle caps in it. With a shock I realized that I had neglected the saving of coupons and bottle caps for Birch Grove. Shame on me!
The box top coupons must say something about education, and the cap must have 5 cents printed on the cap to be OK for saving. Throwing these things away is denying Birch Grove a small but, over the long haul, significant amount of money.
I saw a discussion about the merchandising lure of the "cash back" gimmick. Buy this item for $20 and get $2 cash back. The problem is that the coupon must be saved, the sales slip must be retained and then it all has to be mailed in for redemption.  Would you believe that often 90 percent of the cash backs are not redeemed? Box tops and milk caps are a form of cash back. Let's see the West End redeem 90 percent of them for Birch Grove.
I had a screen up on my TV that listed the current programs on about 10 different channels. The one that caught my eye read "National FFA convention.” FFA stands for Future Farmers of America. At one point in my career I participated in some group dynamics training sponsored by the University of Minnesota Extension Division with the student officers of the FFA and the FHA, Future Homemakers. Out of curiosity I brought up the channel to see what these organizations were doing after these many years.
A lot was the same. The same blue jackets. The same articulate, enthusiastic 16-, 17- and 18-year-old students. The tradition in these organizations is that all speeches and presentations are memorized: no notes and no teleprompters. You should understand that the students who are giving speeches and presentations at the convention have emerged, in this case, from hundreds of thousands of students who entered a selection process nationally. Their speeches have been prepared and rehearsed until perfection is achieved.
All of these students are not only high school students; but they also have some sort of business, connected with agriculture, which they personally own and run. An announcement stated that the receipts from FFA student businesses in 2008 were a little more then $4 billion.
Anyone who is pessimistic about our present crop of high school students should become aware of the FFA and FHA students. They will cheer you up a lot.