ETCETERA - ‘Christmas Angels' surprise, bless local family with gifts

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When asked, Walla Wallan Tommy Laver told a friend that their Christmas was going to be tough, but they'd get through. He and Jenefer Dorman, who share their home with three children and Tommy's dad, Tom Laver, don't make much money and have been through some difficult times.

Despite the challenges, Tommy said he prayed that the kids, Candis Dorman, 13, Cameron Harmon, 10, and Chantilly Dorman, 2, would be blessed for Christmas. In his prayer, he didn't ask for anything for the adults in his home, just for the children, he recalled later.

But "the very next day, a great friend of ours from Cameron's school (Prospect Point) came to the house and told us a family adopted us for Christmas," Jenefer said. "We were excited, not knowing what was in store."

Mid-morning on Dec. 23, three vehicles arrived at their home at 726 N. Ninth Ave. They provided the family with a new freezer filled with meat, baskets of food, laundry and dish soap and gifts for everyone.

"We couldn't believe our eyes. We thought we were dreaming," Jenefer said.

Opening the rest of their "treasures," they found food, gift cards and $200 worth of gas from Farmers Co-Op, toys and clothes for the children, boots for Tommy and art supplies and a soft blanket for Jenefer.

The gas vouchers brought Tommy to tears. "I can't work so I run the kids to school and Jenefer to work and we're always running out of gas. This is a big help."

"We were in need for all of this stuff and it's truly amazing how a community can pull together and make a huge difference for one family."

Jenefer currently works part time at Blue Mountain Humane Society. Her dream is to train in animal control, she said.

Jenefer, Tommy and their family are most grateful to all those people who they dubbed "Christmas Angels" who made this their best Christmas ever.

The "Angels" were a group of people who contacted the school to adopt a student at Christmas, said Christine Ludwig, intervention specialist at Prospect Point. She added they were glad to be able to do something for Cameron and his family.

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A beautiful day greeted Marci Jo Lanning and Jorge Martinez, who wed on Oct. 2, 2010, at Lewis and Clark Trial State Park in Dayton. Judge Scott Marinella officiated.

Marci Jo graduated from Waitsburg High School and is completing her studies in water resource technology at Walla Walla Community College. She is the daughter of Mark and Joanna Lanning of Dayton.

A Touchet High School graduate, Jorge manages The Personal Touch Carpet Cleaning in Walla Walla. He is the son of Jose and Carmen Martinez of Touchet.

A reception dinner and dance was held at the Columbia County Fairgrounds and the couple honeymooned on the Oregon Coast. They reside in Walla Walla.

Alison Kirby said husband Dan Calzaretta is raising money to aid students interested in taking a field trip he will lead to Washington, D.C., during spring break. Dan runs the Explorers program at Pioneer Middle School.

Student fees are about $1,500 for airfare, lodging, meals and museum tours, Alison said via e-mail. Along with car washes and other fundraisers, parents led by Katherine Southwick-Hess and Katie Christianson have helped students raise money by selling Big Cheese Pizza certificates.

Many pizzas are being sold for Super Bowl Sunday on Feb. 6.

As Alison loves sending cards to friends, she suggested students could raise money by offering an option where for $12, people can order a Valentine card sent to their sweetheart that includes a certificate for an $18 gourmet or specialty Big Cheese Pizza Valentine. Frugal customers can order a pizza certificate for $10 without the Valentine.

Pizzas may be ordered by sending customers' desired mailing addresses and a check for either $10 or $12 made out to Big Cheese Pizza with "Washington, D.C., trip" in the memo line to Washington Field Trip, 330 S. Palouse St. (the Calzaretta-Kirby home), Walla Walla, WA 99362 by Feb. 6. They will mail the certificate or truly tasty Valentine(s). "Let us know if you want to mail the Valentine yourself or have us mail it for you. There is no limit on how many you can order," Alison said.

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Mark Thompson, an insurance agent and bullying prevention specialist in the area, recently visited with Sharpstein Elementary School's fifth graders.

He talked about the negative impact bullying has in school, spending about 40 minutes with each class. He taught bystander techniques and what to do if the students are bullied. He also asked them to talk about how it feels to be bullied.

Thompson culminated each session by asking the students about where bullying occurs, how often and what they do about it. He said the sessions were positive, the online Walla Walla School District Week in Review Jan. 7 issue noted.

"The kids really took this seriously and were great participants," Mark said. "The staff at Sharpstein are also working hard at preventing and correcting bullying behavior."

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Friends of the Blue Ridge Playground Project received a $2,500 donation from Stubblefield Trust recently, the Jan. 7 online Walla Walla School District Week in Review reported.

The funds will augment the school's Playground of Dream project. The equipment has been ordered and will be installed this spring. Jim Hayner, a local attorney and Walla Walla High School Graduate of Distinction, serves as executor of the trust and oversaw the transfer of payment.

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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