If you want to organize a gift exchange, there are two main ways to go about it, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. Here are a few things to consider about each option before you make a decision.
For this type of exchange, each participant draws a name to determine who they’ll buy a gift for. If you can’t get everyone together, there are a number of websites and apps that allow you to virtually assign gift-givers without spoiling the surprise.
The advantage of Secret Santa is that by knowing who the recipient is in advance, you can choose a gift the specific person will enjoy. This is particularly appealing if the participants vary widely in age and interests.
Keep in mind, you can also ask each person to provide a few gift suggestions in case they get picked by someone who doesn’t know them very well. However, this does eliminate some element of surprise.
If you pick this option, sometimes known as a white elephant gift exchange, all you have to do is set a budget and ask everyone to bring an unmarked gift that’s likely to appeal to a majority of the group. Consider choosing a theme, such as home decor, travel, or gag gifts, to help people narrow down their selection.
This type of gift exchange is great if you want to make the experience a game. For example, you can have participants select and open a gift one by one, with the option to “steal” an unwrapped gift from someone else. The downside is that some people may be disappointed by what they get. Additionally, depending on who the participants are, it might be hard to find gifts that are universally appealing.
Regardless of which type of exchange you host, be sure to start planning early so participants have enough time to shop for a gift.
The importance of National Bullying Prevention Month
According to a recent federal study, within the past year, 20 percent of U.S. high school students reported being bullied on school properties, and 15 percent reported being cyberbullied.
October marks National Bullying Prevention Month, a campaign that aims to raise awareness about the impacts and dangers of bullying. This month-long event encourages everyone to work together to create a safe place for children to live, learn and grow. Here are three reasons why this campaign is so important.
1. It makes students feel safer. When students feel safe and secure, they can focus on their schoolwork. Moreover, teachers can spend more time teaching, and parents can worry less. Everyone wins when you put a stop to bullying.
2. It fosters a sense of teamwork. Bullying prevention involves students, teachers, parents, counselors, coaches, and school administrators. Everyone must work together to stop bullying. No one person or school can do it alone.
3. It makes back-to-school a more positive experience. When schools open in the fall, it’s a chance for kids to reconnect with old friends and establish new relationships. National Bullying Prevention month happens in October and can help set the tone for the school year and confront bullying in schools early on.
This October, get involved in your community’s events and say no to bullying.
National Day of Remembrance for Homicide Victims – Sept. 25, 2022
RICHMOND, Va. – As families, friends, and law enforcement gather this Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, for the National Day of Remembrance for Homicide Victims, many are hopeful that Virginia’s new Cold Case website will help renew the public’s attention to those cases that remain unsolved. The website, which is available to the public, is a searchable database that features information, photographs, and contact information for unsolved homicides, unidentified persons, and missing person cases that have remained unsolved for at least five years.
The Virginia State Police is required by the Code of Virginia 52-34.16 to host the website for Virginia local and state law enforcement agency participation. Virginia Delegate Danica Roem sponsored the legislation to create the searchable, online database that became law in 2020. The website was initially piloted in June 2022 with a limited number of Virginia State Police “cold cases” featured. Since then, the website has expanded to include 44 unsolved homicides, nine missing persons, and seven unidentified persons with 12 reporting agencies. To date, state police have trained and provided access to upload cases to the website to 19 local police and sheriff’s offices across the Commonwealth.
“There really is no such thing as a ‘cold’ case,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “That moniker is misleading because no matter how many years have passed that a homicide, missing person investigation, or unidentified person case has gone unresolved, it never truly goes ‘cold.’ Virginia law enforcement agencies continue to pursue unresolved investigations until justice is rendered for the victim and that victim’s family. Unfortunately, some cases simply take longer than others to achieve that end goal of an arrest and closure.”
“Working with state and local police, we have developed a cold case database that is now live here in Virginia to bring justice for those who have been killed, gone missing, or are unidentified,” said Delegate Danica A. Roem, 13th District of the Virginia House of Delegates. “I would implore the public to look at the cold case database at least once to see if you recognize any case on this list. You can visit it at https://coldcase.vsp.virginia.gov/.”
“This website gives every unsolved case worldwide reach, and we are hopeful that it will generate new tips and quality leads for Virginia’s law enforcement agencies to pursue,” said Settle.
10 activities to enjoy the fall colors
The cool fall weather brings out a brilliant display of brightly colored leaves. Here are ten activities to make the most of this short-lived season.
1. Hiking. Take a walk in the forest or climb a mountain to observe nature in all its splendor.
2. Biking. Ride along bike paths in enchanting locations and admire the majestic multicolored trees as they pass by.
3. Kayaking. Waterways are often lined with trees and offer unique views of the beauty of autumn.
4. Picnic. Enjoy the season’s warm colors with a delicious meal in the open air.
5. Camping. Deep in the woods, the beauty of the rising or setting sun will make your environment shine.
6. Aerial trekking. Observe beautiful red, orange, and yellow leaves up close by climbing or ziplining through the trees.
7. Spa. Unwind in an outdoor bath and take in the breathtaking scenery. Rejuvenation guaranteed!
8. Driving. Enjoy a leisurely drive along picturesque country roads, or take a drive to the peaks.
9. Flying in a plane or helicopter. Discover fall like never before from high in the air.
10. Via Ferrata or rock climbing. Contemplate the glorious fall panoramas as you dangle from a rock face at dizzying heights.
Autumn is calling!
The first day of autumn is September 22
Autumn is an invisible bridge that begins with the fading delights of summer and slowly reaches into the world of winter.
It’s when most crops are harvested and when the days grow shorter and cooler, especially in northern latitudes. September is the month of the Harvest Moon, a full moon that allows farmers to work later and have more time to bring in their crops. Gardens are ripped up, but rows of turnips, potatoes, and onions are planted.
Children have strapped on their backpacks and trekked back to school but take time out to select pumpkins, carve their Jack-o’-lanterns and throw themselves into the adventure of Halloween.
This is when tourists hit the road to find, photograph, and enjoy the color palette of fall foliage. These wanderers are often referred to as “leaf peepers.”
Apple trees are heavy with fruit, apple cider stands begin to pop up, and apple pie is a staple on many menus. Family outings to the nearest orchard are common, and kids can pick their own apples and even watch apple cider being made. Getting a taste of the fresh cider is part of the fun.
Tailgate parties hail the arrival of football season. Bonfires proliferate, with some of them turning into traditional hot dog roasts, complete with toasting marshmallows to make s’mores and augmented by a singalong.
Corn mazes offer a scary but exciting escapade, and hayrides are enjoyed by all ages. Scarecrows and cornstalks become part of decorating while squirrels scurry around burying nuts.
It’s autumn. Breathe deeply and enjoy the precious days. As Albert Camus said, “Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower.”
4 farm safety tips
Celebrated from September 18 to 24, 2022, National Farm Safety and Health Week is an annual occasion that focuses on promoting health and safety on farms. If you live or work on a farm, you share the responsibility of keeping yourself and others safe. In honor of this event, here are four things you can do to ensure neither you nor anyone you’re working with is involved in a farming accident.
1. Keep your warning signals functioning
Ensure the warning lights and sounds on the machine you’re using are functioning and that the labeling is clear and visible. These signals provide essential warnings to their operators and those around them.
2. Be careful around power take-off (PTO) shafts
PTO shafts transfer power from a tractor to an attached implement. Although extremely useful, PTOs can be dangerous. Therefore, make sure to keep loose clothing and items away from the shaft and never reach or step over one while in operation.
3. Invest in rollover protection
If you don’t already have one, consider investing in a rollover protective structure (ROPS) for your tractor. Every year, farmers are injured or killed in tractor rollovers.
4. Get plenty of sleep
If you’re tired, you’re more likely to make mistakes that could cost you or someone you’re working with a limb or their life. Get the sleep you need and quit working if you’re too tired to continue safely.
Safety and health are the responsibility of everyone working on a farm.
5 car noises you should never ignore
Visual checks are an essential part of vehicle care and maintenance. However, you should also use your ears. Strange noises are clues about potential issues with your car. Here are five noises you shouldn’t ignore.
1. Squeaking or grinding. If you hear a grinding or squeaking noise every time you stop, your car’s brake pads, shoes, or rotors may be worn out. If left unchecked, these issues can be hazardous.
2. Hissing. Your engine could be over¬heating if you hear a hissing sound coming from under the hood. This sound could also mean the exhaust system is plugged.
3. Chirping. A high-pitched chirping sound could indicate that you need to adjust or replace the engine’s timing or serpentine belt.
4. Rattling. If your steering wheel is rattling or your tires are shaking, it’s time to act. It may mean you’ve lost a lug nut, or your power steering fluid is low.
5. Rumbling. A loud rumbling noise while accelerating often indicates a hole in your muffler or exhaust system. This is dangerous because toxic fumes can leak into the cabin.
See a professional automotive technician if you hear strange noises coming from your car. Failing to act quickly could result in more costly repairs down the road.