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Pictured are Optimist Jim Oswalt who brought the most items for the Food Bank (see items on the table) and new visitor Jeremy Dreesen from the Dickson Agency.

The Noon Optimist Club met in Hutchins Hall on Dec. 2 under the leadership of President Ned Calvert who asked first Time visitors Jeremy Dreesen and John Green to introduce themselves.

Jeremy reported as the new representative from the Ben Dickson Agency which has recently reopened in Marshall on Bomar where it formerly represented Farmers Insurance. Now, as an independent agency, the new office is bringing a wide range of products to give clients a full service insurance experience as well as financial services and retirement planning, specialties of Jeremy. Optimist Ben Dickson’s work makes such demands that he will probably be at our meetings only infrequently but Jeremy expects to be with us on a regular basis.

Optimist Richard Magrill identified guest John Green as a former Optimist who is an active leader in the local Elks Lodge. John explained that it just became too difficult for him to make noon meetings. He recalled that he was a member at the time we were meeting at the Western Sizzlin’, at least until it burned down. He noted that even now his work may take him far from Marshall at lunch time, but today he was in town.

Covid-19 meant that the dining room of Bodacious Bar-b-cue was closed so he stopped by the church to eat his meal and chanced upon the meeting.

John has been president of the local Elks Lodge three different times and has held higher offices in the Texas Elks too numerous to mention. He admitted that many people think of the Elks as a social group but John emphasized that they are a charitable organization constantly engaged in fundraising.

They mainly serve children and veterans. He noted that Optimist Jim Oswalt, present at today’s meeting, is also an Elk and serves as their treasurer. John mentioned several activities employed in the Elk’s work of raising money for college scholarships.

“Only one entity gives out more money in scholarships than the Elks and that’s the federal government,” he emphasized. “And one year we actually gave out more than the government!”

Jim Oswalt mentioned that presently the Elks are selling Georgia pecans to raise scholarship funds. President Ned said he would like to purchase some and expressed the Optimists’ appreciation for all that the Elks Lodge does for children, youth and veterans.

President Ned led in prayer and the club affirmed the Optimists’ Creed.

Covid-19 constraints and ways to carry on the club’s recognition of the MHS Young Texans and how they might be able to serve MHS seniors with the annual S.M.I.L.E. day event were discussed. The Student Mock Interview Learning Experience engages students in presenting carefully prepared dossiers and job applications to a selection of 30 business representatives, including Optimists. As they are critiqued, the seniors are encouraged in their interview techniques. President Ned noted that he still had contacts to make about the feasibility of the S.M.I.L.E. event. Andy Chilcoat was suggested as a contact. Andy used to come with the Young Texans along with Suzan Harrison but is now in MISD administration offices.

Optimists Julie Brock and Michele Fuller raised the need to recognize MHS teachers, counselors and nurses, as they work with kids during these trying times. One suggestion was delivering treats on a first day (before the kids return for classes) or a half day staff-only session.

Rusty Rustenhaven, a frequent visitor, suggested the possibility of customized candy bars with the name of the club on them.

The club enjoyed its lunch selections from Stagecoach Coffee and Treasurer Michele Fuller said the club is trying to keep their luncheon purchases local as a way of helping their neighbors and mitigating the economic impact of Covid-19. Ned Calvert suggested compiling a list of local eateries for the club to select from each month.

President Ned called out visitors attention to the fact Covid-19 prevents some club members from attending face to face meetings but they help out in other ways. In particular, Optimists Le Ila Dixon and Charles Dixon came to the church yesterday to assist Optimists Janie Moore and Richard Magrill with set up for the club’s meeting. Also, work prevented Secretary Melissa Al-Ahmadi’s presence today but copies of her minutes for the November meeting were distributed.

The week is incomplete without a bit of good news shared by Le Ila. This week’s fits perfectly with today’s food drive contest. She reports on “Too Good to Go”: Every day huge amounts of food are thrown away as supermarkets offload produce that has passed its best-before date; restaurants, cafés and bakeries dispose of uneaten meals and foods for similar reasons. Now an app called Too Good to Go is reducing this waste.

Devised in Copenhagen, Denmark, the app offers 22 million users in 14 European countries access to unsold, safe-to-eat produce from participating suppliers. The food is heavily discounted at about a third of the regular price.

The app helps households on restricted budgets, providing an estimated 100,000 meals a day, and also plays a part in mitigating climate change. “Food waste contributes to eight per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions,” says Mette Lykke, Too Good To Go’s CEO. “Together we can fight food waste and ensure quality surplus produce doesn’t end up in the bin. Our mission is a world where food produced is food consumed.”

Locally, as a part of the holiday drive to help out Mission Marshall’s Food Bank, all club members were asked to bring staple to the meeting. Some 145 items were contributed and Optimist Jim Oswalt brought the most!

The need for year round food bank support was discussed and Rusty Rustenhaven, Mission Marshall board member, quickly noted that summer was the time when contributions lagged.

And while he had the club’s attention he spoke about Mission Marshall’s important childhood literacy programs, the Dolly Parton Library and “Read to Ride.” He emphasized that “Read to Ride” had improved MISD children’s reading test scores, but that Covid-19 disrupted supply chains and created a problem securing the bikes needed to reward kids whose reading levels had improved. Bikes have just recently been secured and will shortly be distributed.

President Ned headed to Marshall Public Library with the food and Le Ila and Charles arrived to help with the take down. The club’s next in-person meeting will be held Jan. 6.

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