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Les Cockrell: Toy drive draws support

The annual Marine Corps Toys for Tots drive traditionally draws widespread community support and this year was no exception, with individuals and organizations throughout the area pitching in to help.

Among those supporting the drive were members of the Argyle Lions Club and Denton Hi Noon Lions Club, both of which held a joint Christmas party to raise donations.

“Instead of our normal gift exchange, we chose to bring toys for the Marines Toys for Tots,” Margy Sundstrom, secretary of the Denton Hi Noon Lions Club, stated in an e-mail.

The donations were later presented to Lt. Col. Mark Roy, commander of the Denton detachment of the Marine Corps League.

Another local group helping with the campaign this year was the Denton Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, according to an announcement from Maj. Steve Robertson, squadron commander.

Cadets from the Nighthawk Composite Squadron helped with the annual toy drive at Golden Triangle Mall on Dec. 15.

“Community service is one of the many ways CAP helps the communities where they are stationed,” Robertson wrote. “The community is not the only one who benefits from the acts of kindness. It is a positive experience for the cadets volunteering their time to help others, especially in the season of giving.”


Environmental learning area offers family hike, story session

Area residents who would like to add a little outdoor recreation to their holiday may want to check out the family hike and story session planned at the Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area on Tuesday.

The activities will be offered from 10 a.m. to noon and are open to all ages. Participants will take a walk to search for tracks and other signs of animal activity and leave some edible treats along the trail for the wildlife.

Registration is required by calling 972-219-3930 or e-mailing The activity is $7 per person; children 5 years and under, free.

The environmental learning area is a 2,000-acre area of prairies, forests and wetlands managed as a wildlife preserve by a group of agencies including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the University of North Texas, the city of Lewisville, the Lewisville school district and Texas A&M University.

It is open to the public every Friday, Saturday and Sunday for fishing, hiking, camping, bird watching, kayaking, canoeing, picnicking and other activities.

The entrance is at 201 E. Jones St., at the intersection with Kealy Street in Lewisville. For more information, call 972-219-3930 or visit


Pet Santa Tree available again this year at library

The Denton Public Library has put up its Pet Santa Tree once again this year to collect donations to help the Denton Animal Shelter provide food, health care and shelter for pets in need of a home.

The tree has been available at Emily Fowler Central Library each Christmas for several years now so visitors can bring items for shelter animals.

The animal shelter takes in 500 to 600 animals a year, according to a press release from the city of Denton, and certain items are always needed. The list includes clay cat litter, dry cat and dog food, bleach, Dawn-brand dishwashing detergent, bath towels, wash cloths and flea and tick treatment and pet toys.

More information about the animal shelter’s needs is available at the library, along with complete instructions about how to help. Information about adoptable animals is available at or at

Donations for the Pet Santa Tree can be dropped off at Emily Fowler during regular library hours until Jan. 1.

The library is located at 502 Oakland St., one block behind the main post office on McKinney Street.

For more information, contact Grace Smart at 940-349-8759 or


American Red Cross sets blood drive in Little Elm

The American Red Cross will conduct a blood drive from 1 to 6 p.m. Friday at the Lowe’s store located at 2773 E. El Dorado Parkway in Little Elm, according to a Red Cross press release.

Call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit to make an appointment or for more information.

All blood types are needed, the press release stated, and a blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required. Individuals who are 17 years of age, weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health are eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.


American Legion Post 71 sets district oratorical event

Denton’s American Legion Post 71 will conduct the District 13 American Legion Oratorical Competition on the U.S. Constitution on Jan. 12, according to an announcement from the post.

The competition’s six contestants are scheduled to arrive at 1 p.m. and the competition will begin at 2 p.m. The post is located at 2501 Spencer Road.

The winner of the district event will proceed to the Division 1 Competition, which is scheduled Feb. 1 in Plano. The winner of Division 1 will then go to the state competition in Brenham on Feb. 17. This year’s national competition is scheduled to be held in Indianapolis in April.

The purpose of this competition is to teach the contestants about the Constitution and to prepare them to be better citizens, the announcement stated. The winners qualify for scholarship funds.

The annual competition is available to all high school students, and information is available from high school principals or counselors or by calling Lynn Vowell at 940-727-8067.


Don’t forget

There’s still time to see the “Everything Trains Christmas” exhibit presented by the Wood House of Denton to benefit Denton County Friends of the Family.

Steve Davis, owner of the Wood House, built the train exhibit in a special display area of his unfinished furniture store, located at 516 N. Locust St.

Visitors of all ages are invited to visit the business to see the elaborate train exhibit and donate canned food items for Denton County Friends of the Family.

Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays (closed Wednesday for Christmas) and Saturday and the display will be available for viewing through Dec. 31. For more information, call 940-387-4098.

Denton County Friends of the Family is an organization dedicated to providing compassionate, comprehensive services to those impacted by domestic violence, rape and sexual abuse. For more information, visit

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