Santa Claus made his annual appearance in downtown Van Wert on Friday, and a number of area children (above) had the chance to tell the “Jolly Old Elf” what they wanted for Christmas. The event was again sponsored by the Van Wert Lions Club and the Dale Davies family. (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)
VW independent/submitted information
Following the frantic shopping event erroneously called Black Friday, now that it begins Thanksgiving Day, is a quieter, more local promotion called Small Business Saturday, which is being held today.
The Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce and Main Street Van Wert are sponsoring the event, which will include a number of small businesses in the Van Wert County area.
Participating stores will provide shopping “passports” to local shoppers who visit their businesses. As shoppers visit participating stores, their passports will be stamped, which will then become a raffle ticket when shoppers make purchases at two of the stores.
The stamped passports/raffle tickets can then be turned in to the Main Street Van Wert or Chamber offices to be included in drawings for nearly $400 worth of items/gift certificates provided by participating businesses.
The local Small Business Saturday is also a part of a larger Shop Small nationwide campaign sponsored by American Express.
VW independent/submitted information
Van Wert Lodge 1197, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, made a donation to the Van Wert High School Senior Class towards its Holiday Extravaganza for Habitat for Humanity.
This event will be held from 2-5 p.m. Sunday, December 13, at Van Wert High School to raise funds to provide furnishings for a Habitat for Humanity home. There is no charge to attend this event.
Activities will include cookie decorating, letters to Santa, movies, reindeer food, snowball fights and arts and crafts.
The VWHS senior class advises that this will be a fun-filled event and seniors encourage everyone to come out and participate in this very worthwhile cause.
The Scott Fire Department has announced the purchase of new extrication equipment to replace current equipment manufactured in 1985 that could not be upgraded. The new equipment, which includes a power unit, spreader, cutter, and a ram kit (above), has five times the operational force and is lighter. The new equipment will also allow the department to better work with neighboring departments, as it will interchange easily. Grant money provided some of the funds to purchase this equipment. (photo submitted)
VWHS Student Services information
Just a reminder, that Van Wert High School will host an informational meeting from 6:30-8 p.m. Monday, November 30, for parents/guardians of senior students regarding the financial aid process. The meeting will be held in the First Federal Lecture Hall in the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio.
The Office of Student Services has arranged for Amy Francis of Defiance College to make a presentation on the financial aid process. Francis will explain the step-by-step procedures in completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form and will answer any questions parents have regarding the entire financial aid application process.
Other literature and information relating to the process will be available.
In addition, Seth Baker, executive secretary of the Van Wert County Foundation, will explain the requirements and application procedures for securing grants through the foundation.
Those planning to attend should park on the middle school side of the complex and enter through the side doors or front door of the NPAC.
DAVE MOSIER/independent editor
While area residents are pondering an extra trip to the gym to work off their Thanksgiving dinners and perusing store circulars for Black Friday and Cyber Monday Christmas deals, Native Americans on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota are wondering how they will keep warm this winter.
Wassenberg Art Center Executive Director Hope Wallace said a relationship she developed with Pine Ridge resident Marian Whitemouse, as well as a visit she made to the reservation with her grandson, provided the impetus for a campaign to provide winter clothing for Native Americans who live on the reservation.
Wallace met Whitemouse, a descendant of Lakota Sioux warriors Dewey Beard and John Moves Camp — both survivors of the Battle of the Little Big Horn whose portraits were painted by Van Wert native David Humphreys Miller — when the Pine Ridge resident attended a Wassenberg exhibition of Miller’s paintings.
Whitemouse then invited Wallace to visit the reservation, a trip the Wassenberg director made with her grandson. Wallace said the visit opened her eyes to the needs of reservation residents.
“It is really hard seeing the Third World living conditions that exist at the reservation,” Wallace said. “Pine Ridge residents endure unspeakable hardships, including high poverty rates, high disease and mortality rates, 80 percent unemployment, and widespread gang violence.”
First Federal Savings & Loan of Van Wert recently completed its 2015 United Way campaign. Employee participation in the campaign was 100 percent and, together with the bank’s matching donation, had a 33 percent increase in donations over the previous year. In addition to the bank employee campaign, First Federal held two bake sales, along with a candy corn guessing game, for its customers to enjoy. First Federal also sponsored an employee raffle that offered prizes including an extra vacation day, a car wash book, movie tickets, or a parking spot. All proceeds from the fundraisers were added to the campaign to benefit United Way of Van Wert County. (United Way photo)
Internal Revenue Service information
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Internal Revenue Service reminds individuals and businesses making year-end gifts to charity that several important tax law provisions have taken effect in recent years.
Some of the changes taxpayers should keep in mind include:
- Household items include furniture, furnishings, electronics, appliances and linens. Clothing and household items donated to charity generally must be in good used condition or better to be tax-deductible.
- A clothing or household item for which a taxpayer claims a deduction of more than $500 does not have to meet this standard if the taxpayer includes a qualified appraisal of the item with the return.
- Donors must get a written acknowledgement from the charity for all gifts worth $250 or more. It must include, among other things, a description of the items contributed.
- A taxpayer must have a bank record or a written statement from the charity in order to deduct any donation of money, regardless of amount. The record must show the name of the charity and the date and amount of the contribution. Bank records include canceled checks, and bank, credit union and credit card statements. Bank or credit union statements should show the name of the charity, the date, and the amount paid. Credit card statements should show the name of the charity, the date, and the transaction posting date.
- Donations of money include those made in cash or by check, electronic funds transfer, credit card and payroll deduction. For payroll deductions, the taxpayer should retain a pay stub, a Form W-2 wage statement or other document furnished by the employer showing the total amount withheld for charity, along with the pledge card showing the name of the charity.
These requirements for the deduction of monetary donations do not change the long-standing requirement that a taxpayer obtain an acknowledgment from a charity for each deductible donation (either money or property) of $250 or more. However, one statement containing all of the required information may meet both requirements.
Moose Lodge 1320 recently presented a $2,000 donation to Community Health Professionals-Hospice in Van Wert. Here, John Smith of the Moose presents a check to Robin Waters. CHP Hospice provides comfort and support for patients and families in their homes, as well as at the Van Wert Area Inpatient Hospice Center, when a loved one is facing the end of life. (photo submitted)
VW independent/submitted information
Looking for some extra holiday cash? The Ohio Department of Commerce Division of Unclaimed Funds may have money Ohio residents didn’t know they had to spend on “Cyber Monday.” By checking the website or calling the toll-free phone number (877.644.6823), Ohioans can search for forgotten money that may be owed them.
Unclaimed funds are money, or the rights to money, that has been dormant or forgotten. Some common examples include dormant checking and savings accounts, forgotten rent or utility deposits, uncashed checks, undelivered stock certificates, and uncashed insurance policies.
So far in Fiscal Year 2016, $34.4 million has been returned, with the average claim $2,100. However, $2.3 billion is still waiting to be claimed. Checking for unclaimed funds only takes a few minutes and it is free to do.
“We returned a record-setting $76 million to Ohioans last fiscal year and hope to top that this year,” Division of Unclaimed Funds Superintendent Yaw Obeng said. “You may find money that could help you pay off some bills or purchase your holiday gifts.”
Even if Ohio residents have looked for unclaimed funds in the past, it is recommended to check again because funds are reported to the division each year.
Individuals without Internet access can also write to the Division of Unclaimed Funds and provide the full name(s) to be researched, along with the counties in which the person(s) might have resided. The Division’s address is 77 S. High St., 20th Floor, Columbus, OH, 43215.
Thousands of people showed up for the fourth annual Christmas Garden lighting ceremony held at the Children’s Garden in Smiley Park. Soup and hot beverages were served to those who came to see the gorgeous lights of the garden, while a lucky 25 children went home with Apple iPod Touch mp3 players. Jim Clay, founder and organizer of the event, said donors provided more than $11,000 to fund the event. (photos by Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)