ETCETERA - Father-Daughter Ball a sweetheart of a dance

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Granted this successful Father-Daughter Valentine Ball took place on Feb. 5, but I just had to run it when there was room to feature some of the many photos taken during the event at Garrison Middle School.

The Walla Walla Parks and Recreation Department sponsored the sold-out gathering. Nearly 300 people in the area participated in the fun-filled evening of games, dance competitions and special awards.

The ball has turned into an extremely popular, annual event for Parks and Recreation and Garrison. Created and designed by Beth Rowlette of Garrison, the ball was started as a fundraiser for the Garrison Dance Team in 2002. Beth got the idea from another similar event held in the Tri-Cities.

"I really wish everyone could see all these dads cuttin' loose and making their daughters giggle," she said. Beth and Angela Potts, recreation coordinator for Walla Walla Parks and Recreation, agreed it was a very special night.

Participants could enter balloon-bustin', soda-sippin' and limbo contests; or show their flair in such dance competitions as the Best Twist, the Wild & Craziest Dancer and the Best Country Dancer.

Special awards went to the "Dad with the most hair," "Dad with the least hair," "Tallest dad" and "Dad who drove the farthest." Two standouts for that award were dads who flew in from Korea and India.

Annual donors provided goods and other items for the event, including five cases of cola from Pepsi for the soda sippin' contest; cupcakes from Super 1 Foods; and free certificates for prizes and awards from La Casita, Papa Murphy's, Domino's, P.E. Bistro, Clarette's, Applebee's and the Modern Restaurant.

Angela said a small amount of the funds is used by the Parks & Recreation Department to pay for a janitor, use of the gym, the registration process and general logistics of the event, to ensure it's fun and runs smoothly. A portion of the funds goes to dance team.

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At a separate event, the Garrison Middle School Dance Team performed four routines at Walla Walla Community College during half time at the recent WWCC Warriors men's game against rival Columbia Basin College Hawks.

Coached by Beth Rowlette, it was the dance team's final performance of the season. Beth started the dance team for sixth- through eighth-graders and she enlists various choreographers for the routines.

This year's team was choreographed by Lacy Rowlette, Jamie Wallingford and former GMS Dance Team member Shelby Mountain.

This was the first year the team performed not only for WWCC, but for Walla Walla High School and at Borleske Stadium. This year's members included Kaylee Naumann, Brenda Fernandez, Kylee Fullen, Nicole Hinze, Natalie Jackson, Samantha Richards, Angel Harris-Hunt and newcomer to Garrison, Katie Dahlin.

Beth looks forward to next year's season and dance team, which will start in the fall.

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I always liked the lyrics to the Beatles' song, "I get by with a little help from my friends." Folks in this community who may occasionally need the help of their friends are fortunate to live here because of the assistance that's available.

Take, for instance, Helpline, a nonprofit agency that provides such services as food bank referrals, prescription assistance, housing and clothing vouchers to those in need.

Friends in the Walla Walla Valley have stepped forward with funds that Helpline urgently needs, according its winter Link to Helpline newsletter.

Members of Homelink PTO presented Helpline with a $600 check. Homelink raised the funds during a hunger banquet where Helpline's Dan Willms, executive director, spoke on hunger in Walla Walla County as the event's featured speaker.

Rental assistance or emergency shelter is also a focus for Helpline. Housing Coordinator Gabriela Salvidea said it's a struggle to avoid exceeding the monthly budget of $2,600 that is applied to those needs.

Her budget normally allows aid to 10 to 20 households. But in December the demand increased to almost 40 households.

"Donations toward this fund to keep families and individuals in their homes would be greatly appreciated," Gabriela wrote.

Other friends pitched in with $2,600 to support the STEP Women's Shelter. Dennis Ledford, owner/broker of Coldwell Banker First Realtors, presented the check to Dan. Assistance doesn't just come in the form of monetary funds. Donations of time are critical to helping the agency help others. Gwen Handcox has volunteered for a long time at Helpline and is now its volunteer coordinator, the newsletter reported.

Donations of goods are also gratefully accepted. Right now Helpline is in need of blankets, clothing, diapers, feminine products, shampoo, toothpaste and toilet paper. For more details, call Helpline at 529-3377 or online see www.helplineww.org.

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

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