December 8 2011

Shop with a Cop a celebration of community giving

December 8, 2011 // 0 Comments

‘It was something that meant a lot to me’ by BETH ALTENA When Maria Arel was in fifth grade she was one of the kids looking at winter coats, mittens and boots with a Rockford police officer and a helper by her side. Today she is a high school senior, a member of a new service group, Rotary Interact, and a volunteer herself. Arel was one of dozens of people who took part in this year’s Rockford Shop with a Cop at Meijer on Ten Mile Road. “It’s great to be able to give back,” said Arel at the event. Students whose families are struggling are chosen to be given $100 in necessities and one toy item with the help of Rockford police officers, who bring a spouse, family member or friend to make the experience less intimidating than it might otherwise be for the children—escorted by a policeman or woman without a parent along. Every officer in the department—with the exception of one “minding the shop”—volunteer the two hours-plus to help the kids pick out items, check out at the cash registers, and then relax with snacks and Santa at the store. The police are there off the clock and at no cost to taxpayers. Meijer has participated in each of the eight times Shop with a Cop has taken place here in Rockford, implemented by Chief Dave Jones in his first year leading the department. Meijer and the Rockford Lions donate the food, beverages, the $100 in goods and a little something else. Store Director Phil Morrow said he looks forward to the event and the kindness he sees each year. As an extra bonus, for each student who has been given the $100 in purchases, Morrow passes out an additional $25 gift certificate. “Today this event is for you. Now you have the chance to do something nice for someone else,” he said to the students. The Rockford Lions, one of our local service clubs, always have members on hand to push carts, help make selections and otherwise be helpful. The group gives $1,000 each year toward Shop with a Cop. Polly VonEschen, of Polly’s Passions (a good gift idea this holiday season), said the experience is always emotional. She remembers one […]

Tale of tenacity—Eagle Scout has had long journey since Lakes Elementary

December 8, 2011 // 0 Comments

by BETH ALTENA Future Eagle Scout Andrew Manning, 17, a senior at Rockford High School, thought of his former elementary school when it was time for his last Boy Scout project. The strides he’s made in his career with the organization are nothing short of amazing, as few Scouts ever make it to Eagle Scout, the organization’s greatest honor. For Manning, the real march for success has been even more personal—a series of grueling surgeries and recoveries to correct defects in his feet he suffered from his whole life. Manning has had pain in his feet his whole life, but his family never knew the extent of the problem. He said he didn’t know if it was just natural growing pains and, having suffered from it his entire life, he didn’t realize it wasn’t normal. When he sprained his ankle in gym class and went to see a doctor about it, the extent of his problem became clear. “I went from doctor to doctor to specialist to surgeon,” Manning said. A problem with his bones had been the cause of his pain, and the doctors couldn’t believe he’d been walking with the condition his whole life, much less waterskiing and tubing. The diagnosis: major, complicated surgeries involving months of rehabilitation and keeping off his feet. Then, more surgeries on the other foot with the same pain and rehabilitation afterward. He had surgery on his right foot in March 2010 and the second nearly a year later—sooner than his doctors would have liked, but the timing took advantage of time off school to miss as little as possible. Manning is philosophical about it. “You wouldn’t ever choose to go through it,” he said. “But if you have to go through it, this was the best time of my life to do it. If I was older and found out about the problem, I wouldn’t be as young and strong to recover. If I had been younger, I would have had to have more surgeries because my bones wouldn’t have been close to their full size.” Teachers at Lakes Elementary School had called The Rockford Squire to do a story on Manning, not because of his surgeries, but because of the impressive project and his thoughtful nature. […]

Happy Trails to you, Fred

December 8, 2011 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Last Tuesday afternoon found us at Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park to attend a visitation and pay our respects to a man we had personally come to know as one without equal – Fred Meijer. We were not there as reporters to cover Fred’s passing but rather as two of thousands, that afternoon and evening, who felt compelled to gather and reminisce with one another and Meijer family members about the life and times of Fred and the role he played in all of our lives. The “six degrees of separation” theory refers to the idea that everyone is on average approximately six steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person on Earth. That theory did not apply to Fred Meijer. In Fred’s case, it was more like one degree of separation. Is there a person in West Michigan that does not have a Fred story to tell? Certainly everyone present last Tuesday could attest to that. So much for computer-age social networks, Fred accomplished much the same with countless thousands of peoples in good old-fashioned face-to-face conversation. Fred was a man of the people who had an insatiable thirst for knowledge. If you crossed paths with him, he was always graciously approachable. In conversation, you became his new friend. He learned your name, what you did for a living, and how you felt about things in general. Both parties were enriched by the encounter and parted ways having learned something new and possibly, at the same time, enjoying a good laugh, oftentimes at Fred’s expense. Is there another billionaire anywhere who has freely made himself available to his fellow man more than Fred Meijer? We think not. Your reporters, the Hills, had the good fortune to meet Fred numerous times in covering events where he was present. Sometimes, also, it was just happenstance. It could have been at Meijer Gardens itself, where we are members, or it could have been at one of the local Meijer stores while we were shopping. Two occasions that stand out in our minds occurred while we were covering local events for the Squire where Fred was the focal point. On one in 2008, Fred was the guest of honor at a […]

Rockford Area Historical Society news and updates

December 8, 2011 // 0 Comments

By TERRY KONKLE President As many people know, the Rockford Area Historical Society believes that the preservation and presentation of our history is important. A major goal of the group is to help fund a museum to display our history and to educate all ages as to what has happened in our area over the years. Right now our society, with the help of others, is working to create a major change for our area. We need lots of help from people, organizations and businesses to make a positive impact on our history. Members of the Rockford Area Historical Society along with many other people in our community continue to work toward moving the Rockford Area Museum (RAM) from its present location to the vacant portion of the Rockford District Court building. Fundraising has been going on for about three months, and we have received many pledges and money toward the project. We have also had offers of help with the cost of construction from several businesses. As of December 1, 2011 we have commitments for close to $120,000. This is about one third of what we projected to the city of Rockford ($340,000) to be needed to finance the move.  Because of the offers of in kind help, the total cost should be lower than the $340,000. Fundraising brochures, which explain our project and show how to pledge or donate, are available at many local businesses including the Rockford Squire, Herman’s Boy and Antor Travel and by contacting the society (Terry Konkle 616-866-0530). It has been brought to our attention that the partial Michigan tax credit  for donations to groups like a museum will NOT be tax deducible in Michigan after this year, so donors should be aware of it when making donations (make them before the end of the year). The Rockford Area Historical Society and the Rockford Area Community Endowment are both 501 (c) (3) non profit organizations. The society has a fundraising event planned for Saturday, February 18, 2012 when Mark Randisi will bring his outstanding Frank Sinatra show,”THE SOUND OF SINATRA” to the Rockford High School Fine Arts Auditorium. Publicity and ticket sales information is in place and tickets are already being sold on line at and at the following area locations: Antor Travel-Northland Drive and12 Mile, Double Take-Rockford, […]

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