Etcetera - 03/01/10

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The Boys Scouts of America celebrated 100 years of scouting the week of Feb. 8. As part of that week-long event, more than 70 local scouts and 45 adult volunteers participated in the annual "Scouting For Food" drive Feb. 13, and collected 9,545 pounds.

Beneficiaries of the bounty include Blue Mountain Action Council's food bank, with 5,857 pounds; Dayton Food Bank, 200 pounds; Waitsburg Food Bank, 275 pounds; CAPECO, Pendleton, 2,513 pounds; Bread Basket, Milton-Freewater, 450 pounds; and Pilot Rock Food Bank, 250 pounds.

Helpline and the YWCA Woman's Shelter in Walla Walla also received non-perishable donations from the drive. The next BSA District Food Drive will be in March 2011.

To continue with a year-long celebration of 100 years, an alumni event in Walla Walla is in the works for April. If Scouting helped shape your life, reconnect by calling the local office at 509-525-7578.

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Chantel Brannan, a Walla Walla High School freshman, attended the Have a Heart for Kids rally Feb. 15 in Olympia with her mother, Heidi Brannan.

The Seattle-based non-profit Children's Alliance, in which Heidi has been active for about nine years, notes that "Proposed cuts in the state budget slash entire programs that kids need to be safe, healthy and succeed." Children's Alliance works to change public policies and priorities in order to improve the well-being of children and their families in the state, Heidi said.

She is an elected member of the Children's Alliance Public Policy Board. Its 20 or so members come from various backgrounds, ranging from social and home care workers to parents around the state.

"We talk of different issues that we want the legislators to vote or consider that concern our state families, all the way from foster care to medical (issues) to junk food." They narrow the field to four priority areas of concern that can then be advocated for with legislators.

Children's Alliance campaigns on early learning, covering all children, ending childhood hunger and fostering fairness for youngsters.

The rally helped bring focus to such issues. Heidi heard from State Patrol officers and officials at the capital that more than 3,000 to 5,000 people turned out for the two rallies.

They "said they have never had this big of a crowd in the capitol all at once," Heidi noted.

Chantel and Heidi met with 16th District legislators while on the capital campus. They visited with Reps. Maureen Walsh and Terry Nealey and an aide of Sen. Mike Hewett's.

"Walsh and Nealey came out for a few minutes for a pic and a little conversation because they were all in voting," Heidi said. More details about the alliance are available online at www.childrensalliance.org/.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313.

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