Thumbs up: Volunteers
Hats off to the hundreds of community volunteers who prepared Thanksgiving dinner food boxes for the needy, leading up to the Thursday holiday. The Thurston County Food Bank would have been hard-pressed to deliver the holiday dinners it did this week without the generous support of donors and those who came to the food bank in Olympia to help put together about 3,000 food boxes for families who otherwise faced a gloomy, hungry Thanksgiving. Food bank officials know full well just how important their work is in these tough economic times, when families are losing their jobs and homes at alarming rates. The food bank is serving about 25 percent more families and individuals than it did a year ago. Thanks to a concerted effort, the food bank was able to boost the number of Thanksgiving food boxes by 500 this year to help meet the increased demand. It’s especially encouraging to see how many families brought their children down to the food bank to help prepare the food boxes. It’s an experience in giving back to the community they will never forget.
Thumbs down: Steroid Use
Steroid use among soldiers in combat appears to be on the rise, according to a recent Army investigation. The latest Defense Department survey, which was conducted in 2008, showed that about 2.5 percent of Army personnel admitted to steroid use, compared with 1.5 percent three years prior. But there’s growing evidence that the rate of illegal steroid use is much higher among infantry troops engaged in demanding, prolonged tours of combat duty. The known adverse health effects of steroid use far outweigh any short-term increase in strength and stamina these soldiers may be experienced. Simply put, the risks of steroid use are just to great for the Army to ignore the problem. Granted, testing for steroid use is far more costly than tests for other illegal narcotics. Costs aside, the Army must mount a rigorous campaign to stamp out illegal steroid use.
Thumbs up: Howell House
A historic home in Olympia’s Bigelow neighborhood has gone through a major transformation from a run-down home known by neighbors as a “drug house” to a proud, restored building worthy of its place on the city’s historic register. Mike and Monica Lyons bought the Howell House five years ago and resolved to restore it. They stuck with the project through the housing bust, knowing they will never recoup all their costs. Neighbors and city officials owe the Lyons a debt of gratitude. Built some time around 1890 by teamster Bennett M. Howell, the house will make a wonderful home for a family interested in a historic home.
Thumbs down: Drinking Glasses
An ongoing investigation by the Associated Press confirms that the presence of dangerous metals in kids’ drinking glasses is excessive and alarming. Last summer, McDonald’s recalled 12 million kids’ glasses because of the presence of cadmium used in the depiction of four characters in the latest “Shrek” movie. The latest testing by AP found unacceptable levels of lead in drinking glasses depicting comic book and move characters such as Superman, Wonder Woman and the Tin Man from “The Wizard of Oz.” In some cases, the lead levels were some 1,000 times greater than the federal limit. It’s high time federal regulators take the necessary steps to cease the manufacturing and sale of kids’ drinking glasses that imperil children’s health.
Thumbs up: Eagle Scout
Eagle Scout David Gentry of Belfair is in some rarefied company. He’s earned all 129 merit badges included in the Eagle Scout program when it only takes 21 merit badges to earn scouting’s highest honor. Talk about dedication and commitment. The 18-year-old, home-schooled scout calls himself goal-oriented. Now there’s an understatement.