To the Editor
December 21, 2010
Break from the holiday season routine
Last Saturday morning, my mom and I drove into Seattle to visit the first Starbucks. We ordered identical grande peppermint mochas with soy — no whip. With smiles on our newly caffeinated faces, we took a step out of the Starbucks and into the freezing air, only to see a homeless man asking for money.
As Key Club president at my high school, I wanted to help him out. I looked to my mom and she knew what I was thinking. In minutes, the man revealed to me his favorite drink, and I brought the hot chocolate with whipped cream outside to warm his frigid body.Upon delivering a genuine thank you, the man smiled in a way I will never forget. He proceeded to say that he hadn’t tasted hot cocoa since he was a little boy, when his grandma used to make it for him. At that moment, I realized how easy it was to step outside the safe, comfortable boundaries of my daily agenda to change another man’s day.
The holidays are here. As always, we shop for family and friends and get caught up in what “big ticket” item Santa will bring us this year. But what about those who know that the greatest thing Santa could give them would be a warm dinner and a place to sleep? Why forget about the greatest gift of all — giving?
Do not make this year just like any other. Reach out in a way to help another and yourself to distinguish this year from any other. Next time you drive past a shaggy man or woman standing on the streets, don’t have a cold heart and stare. Buy a warm jacket and personally offer it to someone in need. Donate cans to a local food bank or volunteer on Christmas Eve to serve soup at your local church.
Whatever it takes, diverge from your hectic lives, even for a moment, and do something to make someone smile. A donation may not be free, but waving a courteous “hello”… that’s contagious.
You should know
Thank you for reminding readers about the hazards of wood smoke
Thank you for the (nearly invisible — but at least published) reminder to your readers that the “fine particles [from wood smoke]…can easily get in[to] lungs and cause health problems.” (Dec. 8 issue)
Nothing is more irritating and against all good sense than a cloud of wood smoke forcing the closure of neighbors’ windows and loss of enjoyment of our beautiful, green and relatively unpolluted environment here in Issaquah Highlands. Whether it’s a fireplace, woodstove, fire pit or “smoker,” it’s not right, and a neighbor has the right to file a nuisance complaint with both the police and Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.
Please remember that wood smoke is a toxic substance, causing constriction of lung bronchioles as well as coronary arteries, often resulting in increased emergency room visits in people with lung (e.g. asthmatics and emphysema) and heart (e.g. angina) problems. At the very least, it is noxious and irritating to be forced to breathe it … equivalent to or worse than someone’s lighting up a cigarette in your bedroom.
Incidentally, not only is wood-burning one of the most expensive modes of heating, it is also one of the least efficient; much of the heat produced is drawn out of the residence by the draft of the stove or fireplace. We are long past the point of permitting this kind of pollution to be foisted upon neighbors.
Please refrain and consider the people around you. There has been legislation before the Legislature to prohibit wood (and other biomass) burning in more densely populated communities such as Issaquah; it makes sense to get this legislation passed and enforced.
Get more information from the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.
Note from the editor:
Emily Lee’s third-grade class at Grand Ridge Elementary School recently learned about Pacific salmon, and how “responsible citizens have an obligation to speak out to make positive change in our world.” Letters to The Press are the students’ first foray into persuasive writing.
Now that Salmon Days are over, it would be very simple to forget about salmon. Remember, we still have to give a lot of attention and help to Pacific salmon.
These are three reasons why we should help Pacific salmon:
1. Salmon are fascinating animals. If they go extinct, we will be losing an important part of our world.
2. Pacific salmon are also an important part of the food chain. If they are missing, then other animals (including humans!) might go extinct, too!
3. When we take care of the salmon environment, we are taking care of our own environment too.
Now, you could use these steps to help and save the fascinating salmon:
You should always recycle any item that is clear and recyclable.
You can recycle cans, milk cartons and any recyclable food containers by rinsing them with clear, cold water.
A lot of trees and plants have been cut down to make room for humans, for making paper and for other reasons.
Trees provide shade to keep salmon streams cold, they house insects that salmon like to eat and their roots prevent erosion on river banks.
On nice sunny days, please go to a nearby stream or creek and try to plant seeds or other native plants!
Talk more about the Pacific salmon
Tell your friends or family members to talk about salmon, and tell them how we can help them. We will find even more ways we can help our Pacific salmon if we talk about them more!
For all of these reasons, we should always try to save Pacific salmon and other animals. If you can follow these simple steps, more and more salmon can return every year, and I will be so proud of my fellow citizens and the world. Thank you very much for taking the time to read my letter.
Grand Ridge third-grader