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Les Cockrell: Teen uses birthday to help crisis center

A Sanger girl recently asked all of the guests and friends planning to celebrate her 13th birthday at a party to bring canned goods and other items to donate to the Sanger Crisis Center.

Amie Rebekah Brand said she’s received plenty of presents on past birthdays and decided to do something to help others this year.

She chose the crisis center because a friend recently experienced a crisis situation in her family.

“I decided to help people who are in the same situation as her,” she said.

As a result, a donation of more than 300 items — including canned and other nonperishable food, toys, towels, clothing, toiletries and miscellaneous goods — was put together.

Brand said the effort didn’t end with the recent party.

“People are still bringing me donations,” she said.

Brand, who attends Sanger Middle School and is a competition cheerleader, is the daughter of Molli Dearing and Richard Brand.

She said she hopes her idea will encourage others to give and that she may repeat the effort.

“Probably next year,” she said.


Local NAACP chapter changes meeting location

The Denton County chapter of the NAACP will meet at 7 p.m. today at the Denton Fire Department’s Central Fire Station at Hickory Street and Bell Avenue.

The meeting location had to be changed on short notice, a spokeswoman for the group said. All members are encouraged to attend. Memberships are available for $30 per year.


Agency sets meeting on tunnels for growing crops

A class on high tunnels for growing crops will be offered from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. today at the Denton County Extension Office in the Joseph A. Carroll Building, 401 W. Hickory St., Suite 112.

The extension office is teaming up with the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association to offer the class, which will cover the benefits of high tunnel crop production, various high tunnel styles, materials needed for construction and the process of constructing a high tunnel.

Cost is $20 for association members and $25 for others. Registration information is available at


Our Daily Bread launches fundraising effort

Our Daily Bread community soup kitchen has launched “Harvest for the Hungry,” its annual fundraising effort.

Harvest for the Hungry is an appeal to all Denton area businesses and residents for support through cash or food donations. Our Daily Bread serves an average of 180 daily hot meals to the homeless and hungry five days a week.

Volunteer program directors also assist clients with appropriate agency contacts to possibly help them with their many other needs.

Our Daily Bread operates out of the facilities of Denton’s St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, 300 W. Oak St. Contributions can be mailed to Our Daily Bread, 300 W. Oak St., Suite 100, Denton, TX 76201. Nonperishable food donations can be dropped off weekdays from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Call 940-765-7607 for more information.


State park to feature wide range of activities

Visitors to Ray Roberts Lake State Park this weekend should find plenty of activities to keep them busy, whether they want to hike or learn more about animals or the proper way to have a campfire.

A twilight hike is planned at 7:45 p.m. Friday at the park’s Isle du Bois Unit. Participants will meet at the Hawthorn parking area and hike the Randy Bell scenic trail.

The staff at the park’s Johnson Branch Unit has planned a talk on fire safety from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday. Participants will learn several ways to start a campfire, and the ethics and responsibilities involved.

Those interested should bring a flashlight and meet at the amphitheater near the fishing pond. They’re also welcome to bring along the makings for s’mores.

A habitat and history hike is planned at the Isle du Bois Unit at 10 a.m. Saturday. Participants will hike the Randy Bell scenic trail, a 2.2-mile paved trail.

A program titled “Animal Antics” is planned at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Isle du Bois Unit. Participants should meet at the unit’s interpretive center, and the kid-friendly talk on animal behavior will be followed by a hike covering about a quarter of a mile.

A program titled “The Fast and the Furriest” from 5 to 6 p.m. Saturday at the park’s Johnson Branch Unit will teach families how to identify animals found at the park. Participants will meet at picnic Pavilion 1 and will be offered an optional track-hunting hike at the end of the program.

A night hike from 8 to 10 p.m. Saturday at Johnson Branch will close out scheduled activities at the park. The 2-mile hike will start at the pavilion in the Dogwood parking lot, and participants should bring along a flashlight.

Park staff members advise all hikers to wear sturdy shoes and bring bottled water.

The activities are free with regular park admission, which is $7 for those 13 and older.

For more information about Isle du Bois events, call 940-686-2148. For information about Johnson Branch events, call 940-637-2294.


Gainesville to host balloon festival this weekend

The Sky’s the Limit Balloon Spectacular is planned Friday through Sunday in Gainesville, offering various hot air balloon events, music and an air show.

The family-friendly event begins at 4 p.m. Friday at the Gainesville Municipal Airport and will feature various activities daily through 5 p.m. Sunday. There will be tethered balloon rides, a children’s play zone, vendors, an air show by the Cavanaugh Flight Museum on Saturday and Sunday and festival food.

Daily admission is $5, and children shorter than 42 inches are admitted free. All proceeds go the North Texas Medical Center Foundation for the benefit of North Texas Medical Center in Gainesville. Tickets are available online at, along with a complete schedule and other information.


Denton Bach Players to offer concert at church

The Denton Bach Players will present “A Visit to Weissenfels” at 7:30 p.m. Friday at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 703 N. Elm St.

Tickets are $15 each, or $12 for students and seniors.

Situated on the river Saale just southwest of Leipzig, Germany, the town of Weissenfels once boasted a significant musical establishment, including J.S. Bach, Georg Phillipp Telemann and Johann Philipp Krieger. The Denton Bach Players will perform instrumental and vocal works by all three.

Featured will be: Jennifer Carpenter, recorder; Leah Greenfield, violin; Andrew Justice, violin and viola; Heidi Dietrich Klein, soprano; Lenora McCroskey, organ; Rachel Richardson, violoncello; Andreas Stoltzfus, trumpet; Elizabeth Trower, viola; and Janelle West, flute.


Mercy Heart support program offers meetings

A support program for those with an incarcerated family member is now offered at two locations in the Denton area.

Mercy Heart offers attendees a place of safety and compassion and resources for keeping their families together and building new courage and confidence, a spokeswoman for the program said.

The program meets on Wednesdays at Denton Bible Church, 2300 E. University Drive, and on Thursdays at Blue Mound United Methodist Church, 8421 N. Interstate 35. A full meal is served at 6 p.m. at both meetings. For more information about the Denton meeting, call 940-297-6745, and for more information on the Blue Mound meeting, call 940-458-5057.

Families who have a member who is incarcerated or who has just been released are invited to attend. For more information, visit


Denton Bible Church slates Shoebox Countdown

Denton Bible Church will be the new Samaritan’s Purse collection center for the Denton area, and program participants have planned a Shoebox Countdown event from 10 to 11:15 a.m. Saturday at the church’s Sumerall Center, 1910 E. University Drive.

The Samaritan’s Purse program invites area families, churches, businesses and groups to fill shoeboxes with toys, school supplies and necessity items for delivery to children in need around the world, and Saturday’s guest speaker, Livia Satterfield, will tell how such a gift changed her life.

Once an orphan living in Romania, Satterfield now lives in the United States and travels the country sharing her story.

This year, Denton-area residents are expected to collect more than 9,700 shoebox gifts to help toward the 9.8 million to be delivered by Operation Christmas Child. Businesses, groups, schools or churches that are interested in participating, can e-mail

For more information about Operation Christmas Child, call 817-595-2230 or visit


Prosper to offer seminar on rainwater harvesting

The town of Prosper has scheduled a seminar on rainwater harvesting at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Prosper Community Library, 700 N. Coleman St., on the campus of Reynolds Middle School.

The seminar will cover the basics and benefits of capturing rainwater for irrigation, and the effects storm water has on the environment.

Participants will learn how to collect and use rainwater at home and have the opportunity to construct their own 55-gallon rain barrel.

The seminar will be presented in conjunction with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. To register, visit For more information, e-mail Tristan Cisco at

LES COCKRELL is interested in your input for Out & About. Help share information about Denton County events and people by calling him at 940-566-6887. His e-mail address is