ETCETERA - Unexpected act of kindness a gift to local family

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This tale is all kinds of moving. Michelle Nichols Carpenter, a fifth-grade teacher in Walla Walla, found her family and specifically their beloved dog, on the receiving end of a random act of kindness.

Michelle and Michael Carpenter's 5-year-old boxer/lab mix Jesse, who was a SWAT team rescued animal, needed surgery to repair a torn ACL.

The timing couldn't have been worse, what with Christmas days away, Michelle noted on the blog she's kept since 2009 at Carpenter's Corner, but Jesse needed repairs done on a torn ACL.

The Carpenters went to pick Jesse up from the vet on Dec. 22, their wedding anniversary by the way. And they expected a bill well over $1,000, Michelle said.

The woman behind the counter showed the couple the invoice. Michelle was prepared for the worst, she noted, but was happily surprised to see it was only $993.

"I don't think you are looking at it right," the woman said and pointed to the bottom line. "It says zero balance."

Incredulous, Michelle wondered if parents Skip and Paula Nichols might have been responsible for picking up the tab. But no. An anonymous person paid it off.

"I lost it. Tears stream(ed) down my face. Michael had to walk away with tears in his eyes. The ladies at the front desk started crying. I tried to get it out of them, but their lips were sealed."

Michelle describes herself as being "completely overwhelmed. Humbled that someone thought to do that for ME and MY family and MY dog. Really? I don't feel worthy. I know that is odd, but truly. It still brings tears to my eyes.

"This just was like a calming act that washed over us and reminded us of the true meaning of Christmas, for our family. Family, love, kindness and humility.

"I try to live my life to the best of my ability. I try to give, be kind, be respectful and model behaviors that I want my children to use someday. I strive to be the best wife, mother, daughter, sister, teacher and friend that I can be.

But, this was something that I'll never forget - and will remain with me, always. So to the angel who delivered this act of kindness ... my most heartfelt, thank you. We WILL pay it forward."

With Jesse back home the parents and sons Jacob and Nicholas have been doting on her as she heals.

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Anyone who forgot to hand pack their Operation Christmas Child shoe box gifts can go online to www.samaritanspurse.org/occ to custom design a gift that will go to a hurting child overseas, according to a release from Jennifer Butler with Operation Christmas Child.

Until Dec. 31, donors can virtually pack shoe box gifts through the online "Build a Box" tool. "It's a convenient, yet meaningful way to join in a project that will bring hope to more than 8.5 million kids this year," Jennifer said.

Some 1,747 shoe box gifts were collected in Walla Walla this year. The boxes bear items for kids suffering from natural disaster, war, terrorism, famine and poverty to let them know they are loved and not forgotten. The simple shoe box is often the first gift many of these children have ever received.

Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has hand-delivered more than 86 million gift-filled shoe boxes to needy children in more than 130 countries.

For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child, call (253) 572-1155 or go to www.samaritanspurse.org/occ.

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With a borrowed 8mm projector, Joe Drazan and folks at the Camp Fire USA office viewed some archived 8mm footage shot about 50 years ago of Camp Fire activities.

Unfortunately, Joe emailed that it was "pitiful, not worth seeing again or copying. But now we know. And your column enabled the loan!"

Also because of a mention in the Sunday column, the hits on his blog went up dramatically on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.

Folks can go online to the union-bulletin.com/ homepage and click on Joe's Vintage photos/Bygone Walla Walla, and plow through scads of old local photos that Joe's been amassing.

Apologies to Joe, who somehow became "Bob" on second reference in that column Sunday item. He's Joe, Just Joe, all day long, thank you very much.

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The Walla Walla High School Speech and Debate Team took three first places in competition during its second district debate tournament in Wenatchee

The district now include two more teams, meaning Wa-Hi faced competitors from Pasco, Chiawana, Eisenhower, Moses Lake, Cascade, Wenatchee, Quincy, Liberty Bell, Ephrata and Othello, said their coach, Jean Tobin.

Wa-Hi placed first in debate, speech and first overall. Twenty-two Wa-Hi students competed and almost all students earned a trophy for their performance.

"We are very lucky to have incredible parent support and had six parents join us to help supervise and judge, Katie and Carl Christianson, Nancy Forstheofel, Vanessa Prull, Annie Capestany and Joe Cooke.

Speech events: Bryan Preston, first, Kendall Dunovant, second, in extemporaneous open division; Emily Prull, second, novice division. Marisol Beck, Hope Grant-Herriot, second duo interpretation open division; Kurt Funk, Maggie Grant-Herriot, first, novice division. Calvin Brigham, first, Machado Mijiga, second, in open editorial commentary division; Jennifer Cho ranked sixth in her first time competing in the event as a novice. Anna Apostolidis-Morefield, third, expository open division. Anna is competing in the top division although she is eligible to compete in novice as this is her first year competing. Kate Kuhlmann, second, Maggie, third, and Sabine Vernon, fourth in novice expository. This was Maggie's first time competing with her speech. In open division, Konor Clark, second, humorous interpretation, Malcolm Gabbard, second, in novice. Kendall Dunovant, second, impromptu open division, Emily Prull, second, novice division. Kera Parsons, first, interpretive reading open division, Marisol, second. Hope, first, oratory open division, Emma Gregoire, first, oratory novice division, Tristan Moore, fourth, novice division. Machado, second, tall tales open division, Hope, third, tall tales open division, Ben Parsons, third, novice.

Debate: Marisol, second, congressional debate open division, Malcolm, second, novice division, Emily, third, novice division. This was Malcolm's and Emily's first time to compete in congressional debate. Kendall Dunovant, second, Lincoln-Douglas debate open division, Konor, third; Tristan, first, novice division. Calvin and Rosa Tobin, second, public forum debate open division, the first time they competed in this event. Bryan Preston, Sean Hamilton, third, public forum debate open division; team of Malcolm and Emily, third, novice division. Kera and Machado, top honors in spar debate.

During the holiday break, the team will prepare for their Jan. 5 tourney at the University of Puget Sound. "We know that tournament will be much more difficult to compete in, as more than 50 schools will be attending," Jean said.

Because many of the debaters from Lincoln High School put on a play they did not compete with Wa-Hi, but plan to go to the next district tournament in Moses Lake in mid-January.

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Walla Walla-Sasayama Sister City Affiliation Committee will conduct an adult home stay visit to Sasayama, Hyogo, Japan, Oct. 9-15.

All travel arrangements from Walla Walla and return are made by the Walla Walla Sister City Committee with space limited to 15 adults.

The travel is scheduled in the fall. Visiting Sasayama in October is a great opportunity to attend their fall food/harvest festivals, shrine festivals and other activities. The weather is generally mild, although travelers should be prepared for rain.

Those interested in participation should respond before Dec. 31. Attendance is required at orientation meetings Feb. 6, March 5, April 16 and May 7, said Robert Keatts, committee chairman. Information about fees, itinerary and other details are available through Bob at 525-0049 or robert_wwscc@yahoo.com .

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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