Monday, January 18, 2010

Ice-fishing letter

Dear Supporters,

I am beginning preparations for our Annual Ice Fishing Trip to Black Lake. When I was up to my camp for the New Year people were driving trucks out onto Rollaway Bay. There was 13”-15” of ice with over a foot of snow on top of the ice at that time. My four wheeler is in the shop for service because I am planning to bring it up north this weekend to pull the ice-shanties out to our fishing spots. I plan on loading the truck up with supplies we will need for the weekend of the fishing trip. This warm weather has melted the snow down a bit, but I am sure there is plenty of ice for ice-fishing. I will have a better idea of the snow and ice conditions after my trip up there this weekend.

Our Ice-fishing trip is a little different from most our other trips in several ways. A number of the children who attended in past years have now grown up and attend as young adults. I like bringing them along because drilling a few hundred holes through 2’ of ice (my back can’t handle it like it did when I was 20), putting out 60-90 tip-ups, and moving ice shanties around requires a lot of bull work. These boys now in their late teens to early 20’s are the right bulls for the job. They are also mature enough to operate the snowmobiles and ATVs to transport equipment back and forth to the ice shanties. Generally, once I get set up with the younger children at our fishing spot, the older boys drive the snowmobiles around. It’s a nice trade-off. Plus, I like staying connected with these kids as they become adults.

I encourage you to view our photos from previous ice-fishing trips. Scroll down this page until you see the flicker photos on the right and click on flickr. Once you're on flickr, click on northsidepolice (next to the black police badge), click on any year, click on ice-fishing for that year and view (I like to view in the slideshow by clicking slideshow in the upper right).

Last year at this time I shared a note regarding my mother being diagnosed with liver cancer. She is holding up better than predicted. I would say her health is a little worse off than a year ago. I doubt she will be joining us when the kids come up (the chance of catching a cold with all the kids around is much higher). I may get her to go up this weekend because she loves to fish. Please continue with your prayers for her health. I have no doubt it is what is keeping her as healthy as she is (just got off the phone with her; she had a rough night with dry heaves 3am-8am).

The dates for the ice-fishing trip are February 5th-7th. The Black Lake Fish and Game Association Fishing Derby is only on Saturday this year. We will be entering everyone into the derby. They have a great youth division, and generally many of our children win prizes. If you are interested in helping us out with the ice-fishing trip you may help in any of the following ways:

· Zebco 202 or 404 reels (or comparable- with reverse switch) for our tip-ups

· Ice-fishing line, poles, lures, tip-ups, small propane tanks for lanterns and heaters, etc.

· Bait, grubs, wax worms, large minnows ($1.25 ea. We generally use 250 pike minnows)

· Food, drinks, snacks, paper plates, bowls, cups, napkins, paper towels, toilet paper

· Clothing (socks, mittens, scarfs, etc)

· Gas cards – we will be using a lot of gas for vehicles to transport everyone to camp, for the snowmobiles, ATVs and the ice auger.

· Monetary donations for Black Lake Derby entry fees, renewal fees for our Adventure Explorer Post (this provides our liability insurance through the Hiawatha Seaway Council for all our trips throughout the year, pizza and wings (Friday night), gas, minnows and any other expenses for the trip. Checks may be made out to Northside Community Police Center Fund.

You may drop off or mail donations to our office at 255 Wolf St. If you have any questions on the above events, please give me a call at 471-3257.


James K. Clarke

Police Officer

North Community

Police Center

Christmas Party 2009

We served over 800 children during our 2009 Children’s Christmas Party. All day long families poured into the Police Center to attend the party. Bright eyes and broad smiles were on the children’s faces as they entered the community room covered with Christmas decorations. Families would collect their gifts from Police Center Volunteers and then gather around Santa for a free family photo. Other volunteers passed out stuffed animals, hats and gloves to each child and directed families to the snack table. Families had their choice of numerous types of snacks to enjoy at the party, including cookies, chips, chocolate milk, juice and soda. Children, seated on the floor, were scattered throughout the Center, busy opening gifts and playing with toys. “Safe Child ID Cards” were provided to the families who wanted them. Parents received a photo ID containing their child’s finger prints and other important information. Plenty was offered for families to enjoy at the party.

I am always amazed at the number of families who come to the party; some stay for hours while others come and go quickly. Those who stay like to fully enjoy all we have prepared for them. Many of these families' homes are without a Christmas Tree or the colorful lights seen throughout the City. Some families tell how they wrap their few gifts in newspaper rather than the bright Christmas paper we are accustomed too. They can only think about going to the mall to purchase a photo with Santa and never actually make it, due to their tight budgets. Strollers are the primary means of transporting their children to and from the Christmas Party. These are just a few of the reasons we go all out to decorate the Police Center and host a Christmas Party for the families in the area. Anyone who spends a short time at the Police Center during this special night recognizes the value of hosting such a party.

It requires a wealth of support and numerous hours of preparation prior to, during, and after the Police Center's party. We could not hold a single Police Center event without the generous donations of the businesses and individuals who donate to us. Likewise, I could not handle all of the work required to host an event without hard working volunteers that give their time to help. I am truly grateful to all who help make Police Center events possible. I encourage you to scroll down this page to our Flickr stream and click on it. Once on the Flicker page, click on northsidepolice (next to the black police patch), select 2009 events, choose an event, and click to view it in a slideshow. Sit and enjoy the smiles you have put on the many faces of children and parents with your support to the Police Center. Believe me, it will warm your heart to see the faces of families. Your support is impacting. You are making a difference in their lives.

God Bless,

Officer Clarke

Christmas Fund Letter 20

Dear Supporter,

Our Children’s Christmas Party is always our biggest event of the year. As you can guess, it is also the most costly event. Each year at Christmas time numerous people stop by the Police Center with a gift or donation for our Children’s Christmas Party. Truly, the saying, “Many hands make light work” is true when it comes to explaining how it is possible for us to hold such a huge party. This year has been a tight year financially for the Police Center. As the final months of the year are approaching, I am a bit on edge, wondering if we are going to pay our bills and still have funds available for our programs. We have almost made it, but we still have a month’s worth of bills and a Christmas Party in front of us. As we move forward with our plans for the Children’s Christmas Party, I am hoping people will continue, as in years past, to make us a part of their Christmas giving. I am still a little anxious about the thought of finding the resources required to host a party that each year serves almost 1,000 children. It’s not only the gift for each child that is needed. We also need wrapping paper, name tags (self-stick), tape, snacks, drinks, coffee, cups, paper plates, napkins, paper towels, toilet paper, hand soap, trash bags, ink cartridges & photo paper for photo w/Santa (Poloroid film is no longer easily available). When you multiply all of this by 1,000 you find the $$$ quickly adds up.

The Christmas Party is planned for Saturday December 19th , 11:00am-6:00pm. We need numerous volunteers for various jobs on the day of the event and prior to the event. On two separate evenings (the weekdays before the party) we will be bringing gifts to Senior Centers to be wrapped. One night at Salina School Apts. from 6:00pm-9:00pm and another night from 6:00pm-9:00pm at Franklin Square Apts. Volunteers are needed both nights. Also, if you have children who would like to help before the event, I need help picking out the gifts. We will be doing this on several evenings once we begin receiving toys. On the day of the party, volunteers are needed to sign children in, serve food, wrap gifts, take photos with Santa, print the photos with Santa, give out gifts, manage trash receptacles and answer phones. If I know in advance the number of volunteers I have coming for the party, I am able to break the day down into shifts and offer volunteers the opportunity to rotate assignments. Please call me if you would like to volunteer.

I have seen an increase in the number of homeless folks who stop by the Police Center to pick up clothing. The word must have gotten out that I allow them to take what they need without charging them (they only take what they use). Anyone who has used clothing, coats, hats, or gloves and would like to drop them off, I am sure they will be useful for these folks. I am particularly looking for a pair of size 13 work shoes for one of the guys.

We are facing tough economic times right now. Many people are in desperate situations. Several of the families who have come in to sign up for the Christmas Party have asked me if I know where they might find a job. Even the jobs requiring unskilled labor are competitive today. When families sign up I have been making side notes of the ones whom I believe could use a little extra help (it seems there are a lot more this year). We will do what we can for them. If anyone wants to add some canned goods to their donations, we will use them for food baskets to help these families. I have a feeling a lot of gifts will leave the Center unopened this year and be saved for opening on Christmas Day.

I apologize for mentioning so many different things we could use. I understand all of our budgets are stressed by these economically challenging times. Do only what you are able. Please remember, some things don’t require a monetary commitment, like donating your time. Volunteer at the Police Center, ring a kettle bell for the Salvation Army, or help feed the hungry at the Rescue Mission. These are all good lessons to model for your children. Demonstrate your charitableness now, and chances are good they will follow your training and support those in need when they are adults.

Donations of any of the above, or monetary donations to help us purchase the items, will help make the Christmas Party possible. I would like to thank you for your continued support to the Police Center Programs. Your support makes a tremendous difference in the lives of the families we serve.

Wishing you a safe and happy Holiday Season,

Officer Clarke

Friday, January 15, 2010

Pumpkin Carving Party 2009

We had to hold our Pumpkin Carving Party in shifts to accommodate everyone. As soon as one family finished dinner and carving their pumpkins, we would clear the table and seat another family. We picked 300 pumpkins and received a few more through donations but not a pumpkin was left by the end of the night.

Our Pumpkin Carving Party is an event for the whole family to enjoy. We provide food (stews, chili and chips along with fresh made bread from our local bakeries). This means families don't need to prepare dinner for the family on this night. Each child receives their own pumpkin and parents are given candles to light up the pumpkins. When I grew up (with 11 brothers and sisters) we survived off a garden and planted our own pumpkins. For many of these families purchasing a pumpkin at a nearby convenience store is expensive and a burden to carry home. Therefore, carving pumpkins is not a regular tradition for many of these families. Every year children look forward to our Pumpkin Carving Party. The Party has grown over the years form 30-to now over 300. I am pleased to be able to host an annual carving party to provide a healthy, family orientated tradition for children in our area.

Thank you, to all who donated to this event and thank you to all who volunteered your time. We were very, very, busy serving food, helping children with the carving and cleaning up messes. We are impacting families in a positive way during these difficult financial times. Click on the flickr bar on this page and view the many happy faces you touch by supporting the Police Center Events.

Officer Clarke

Pumpkin Picking 2009

We took some neighborhood children out to Hafner's Farms in Baldwinsville to pick pumpkins for our annual Pumpkin Carving Party. In a short time we loaded 300 pumpkins into my trailer. The children and I enjoy making the annual trip to the pumpkin patch. Every year I chuckle to myself as I watch the children walk all the way across the field to find the perfect pumpkin. Then, the chore is carrying the pumpkin all the way back to the trailer. Generally, after much proding, I can convince them there are plenty of good pumpkins a lot closer. Hafners gives us a good deal of $1.00 for any size pumpkin. Thank you, to you folks who help us pay for the pumpkins through your donations to the Police Center. We could not do special trips like this with out your support. If you would like to veiw more photos of our Pumpkin Picking Trip click on the Flicker link on this page.

Officer Clarke