Letters to the Editor: January 4-10

The Editor: 

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the Meals on Wheels (M.O.W.) Stocking Project. Every M.O.W. client in Whatcom County has received a stocking full of practical and fun items. Special thanks to Blaine Girl Scout Troop 45061, Banner Bank, Cub Scout Pack 4025 Tigers and Webelos, City of Blaine and Totally Chocolate employees and countless community members in 98230.

So many hearts have been made warm this Holiday Season because of your generosity. Girl Scouts made and stuffed stockings with your donations and a M.O.W. driver sorting out stockings to go in meal bags.

Rikki Lazenby and family

The Editor:

On December 9, the Community Toy Store helped 375 low income families throughout Whatcom County, including families from Blaine and Birch Bay, to provide Christmas gifts for their 1295 children, as well as raising $9,500 that will be donated to local non-profit organizations that work with families. A big thanks to Pacific Building Center and Umpqua Bank for being toy collection sites, and to eight of our local churches and the Semiahmoo Women’s Club for their donations of toys. Thanks also to the great crew of Blaine and Birch Bay volunteers.

The Community Toy Store has been operating in Bellingham for the last 10 years, and we have had Blaine and Birch Bay people involved in many aspects of it, as well as referring families to the program, for the last six years.  Many local people who are aware of the Community Toy Store think it would have many benefits for Blaine/Birch Bay, and we have people interested in helping to bring this program to our community next year.

In order to share more about the Community Toy Store and to allow for open discussion about various Christmas gift assistance options for Blaine, we are planning to host a public meeting early in 2018. The meeting will be announced in The Northern Light and on the Blaine Helps Facebook page; anyone interested in learning more, giving input or being involved is invited to attend.

Laura Vogee

The Editor:

Several months ago, the Whatcom Literacy Council began expansion of its adult literacy programs in the Blaine-Birch Bay area. Everyone we contacted expressed interest in the program, offering encouragement and suggestions. However, several groups really stepped up to work with us including people at the Blaine Library, the Blaine Senior Center, The Bridge in Birch Bay, North Whatcom Fire and Rescue and the Blaine Food Bank – plus coverage by The Northern Light. The program coordinators at the Whatcom Literacy Council have been very supportive and instrumental with training, interviewing plus matching tutors and learners.

Due to the work of many volunteers, the outreach effort resulted in eight trained volunteer tutors who are being matched with learners eager to increase their skills in area of personal interest; subjects include computers, math, reading, writing or English language skills. The tutors-learner pairs typically meet twice a week for 90 minutes in one-to-one study sessions.

Hopefully, this is only the beginning of expanding the adult literacy program in Blaine-Birch Bay, a program which can “open doors and change lives.” To learn more about being a tutor or a learner, visit the Whatcom Literacy Council’s website whatcomliteracy.org.

Jim West, volunteer tutor

The Editor:

Once again, the Blaine Food Bank has been overwhelmed!

It is with great pride in our communities and deep gratitude for the local residents that BFB volunteers announce we successfully raised $25,000 which was the original goal set by a generous benefactor. Last October, a local resident challenged BFB to raise $25,000 by December 22. If met, he would match the donations up to an equal amount. We did it!

Our goal was not only matched, but exceeded with help from a flurry of last minute donations. We ended the challenge with over $28,000 in cash donations.

Blaine Food Bank volunteers were especially gratified because when the challenge was announced to the community, our local residents, churches, schools, and businesses listened. From the smallest donation to the largest, our communities
responded to the plea.

An extra huge bonus this year was a Semiahmoo resident that stepped forward and donated another $30,000 to go toward a new walk-in cooler that is desperately needed. We are all so very grateful to them and all the generous donations this year!

Who comes to the food bank? Your neighbors, your friends, your family and people who you attend church with are all among those coming to visit the food bank once a week. Or, described another way, people who are out of work, low income families, senior citizens, veterans of the armed services, the disabled, single moms or dads, or anyone who temporarily needs help are represented by every person who makes their
way to BFB.

Who is eligible to receive help from the food bank? With legal documentation proving they live in Birch Bay, Blaine, or Custer, BFB will give food to any family or individual who walks through our front door asking for help. Thank you for helping us to help others. With these donations, there will be milk and eggs far into 2018!

Jerry Bladies and Blaine Food Bank volunteers

The Editor:

My name is Leslee Smith and I am the coordinator for Band to Japan and visiting Japanese High School music groups to Blaine.

We are looking forward to the arrival of more than 60 Japanese youth who are part of the Asahikawa Commerce High School Band, located near Sapporo on the island of Hokkaido.

They will be visiting and performing in Whatcom County and Blaine this spring. These male and female students would like to have a cultural experience living in an American household.

Would you enjoy being a homestay parent/family?

We still need a few host families to share their home with Japanese music students!


Pick up/Welcome Blaine High School at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, March 23.

Concert at PAC at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 26.

Farewell dinner at BHS 6 p.m. on Friday, March 30.

Final goodbyes at BHS 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 31.

You do not need to have children in order to provide this opportunity, and you do not need to be musical. You do need to be able to provide a caring environment; bring them to school each day at 8 a.m. and pick them up at 5 p.m.; provide three meals per day (sack lunches); have room for at least two students (separate beds/same room is ok); spend Sunday, March 25 with your guests doing independent activities; and attend the following events:

Welcoming ceremony (March 23)

Public concert (March 26)

Farewell dinner (March 30)

A stipend is provided for each day/student while in your home.

A background check will be required and provided by the Blaine school district (for anyone who is not an employee). Detailed information will be provided to those who request to be a homestay parent/family.

If you are interested and able to provide this unique experience to these young Japanese ambassadors then please contact:

Michelle Haws, homestay coordinator at ashandbrismom@yahoo.com.

I promise you will not be disappointed!!

Leslee Smith, trip coordinator

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