Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down, Jan. 6

Views by the Echo Press Editorial Board. Topics: Kindness at check-out, lottery prizes, Christmas dinner, Happy Heads, night sky distractions, space heaters.

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Kindness at Walmart

Thumbs Up: Kindness can pop up anywhere, even in the checkout aisles at Walmart. A 79-year-old Alexandria woman relayed this story about what happened to her while waiting in a very busy, long line of shoppers on Dec. 20. She had a big basket overflowing with groceries. She noticed that a man behind her only had three items so she let him go ahead of her. The man was very grateful and wished her a Merry Christmas. After he checked out, he hung around for a bit and then got out his credit card and paid for the woman’s groceries (the bill was sizable). “I was just blown away,” the woman said. “We decided to take the money and give it to the food shelf. You don’t hear enough about these kinds of stories.”

Claim lottery prizes locally

Thumbs Up: The Minnesota Lottery provides this good tip: If you win $50, $100 or $500 in the lottery, you can support local lottery retailers by claiming prizes at those businesses. Retailers earn 1% commission on prizes paid. Other helpful info: $10,000 and $25,000 prizes can be claimed at any lottery office or by mail, and $100,000 and $1 million prizes must be claimed at the Minnesota Lottery’s Roseville office.

Festive Christmas dinner

Thumbs Up: An Alexandria woman sends a thumbs up to the staff at Windmill Ponds for their excellent four-course Christmas dinner that was served to all their residents on Thursday, Dec. 15. “This is my third Christmas dinner I have had living here and each year it gets more festive,” she said.

Donation for Happy Heads

Thumbs Up: The organizer of the “Happy Heads” project gives a thank you to an anonymous person who left a cash donation with the cashier at Joann Fabrics. The donor overheard the organizer talking about making and donating hats at her own expense to various charities, especially for cancer kids and people in hospice care. This year, the 578 hats and ear warmers the organizer made went locally to the Small Mall, Best Christmas Ever, Grace Lutheran Church, and to events supported by The Design Station (Gwen Schroeder, owner) including the KIK-FM child abuse prevention program and Car Care program. Some organizations use the hats as part of fundraisers and in silent auction baskets as well as directly re-donating them where needed. Other recipients this year included Special Olympics, Lions fundraising, and Children’s Hospital. Over the past five years, 3,800 hats have been distributed. Some other recipients have included Happy Hair for Kids, Jingle Bells, Alexandria Assisted Living, Echo Press Mitten Tree and personal random acts of kindness. “Thumbs up to all of you for doing such great things in our community!” said the Happy Heads organizer.

Lights detract from the night sky

Thumbs Down: An Alexandria woman gives a thumbs down to those who contribute to light pollution by leaving their garage and yard lights on all night. In some cases, the lights are bright enough to illuminate the whole neighborhood, she said. She said if people think the lights deter crime, they should consider putting in a security system instead. All the lights can spoil the view of the beautiful night sky, she said. “We have large windows in our home. I have become very conscious of the marvels of the night sky,” she said. “This morning the moon is very bright but it’s very easy to see Mars.” She added that Alexandria has been pretty good about replacing old street lights with lights that are pointed down. She also wishes there was a local place to watch the night sky.


Space heater tips

Thumbs Up: We give a thumbs up to Runestone Electric Association for a reminder it sent out about space heaters. REA pointed out that space heaters are a convenient way to warm up quickly, but keep these safety tips in mind when using them: DON’T: Leave your space heater unattended. Always unplug it before you leave the house or go to bed. DON’T: Use an extension cord to plug in your space heater. It can cause the heater to overheat and can be a tripping hazard. DON’T: Place your space heater near curtains, clothing, furniture or bedding. DO: Buy a unit with an automatic shutoff in case the unit tips over or you forget to shut it off. DO: Keep your space heater at a safe distance (at least 3 feet) from kids, pets, and flammable items.

If you have a suggestion for a Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down, email it to or mail it to Echo Press, P.O. Box 549, Alexandria, MN 56308.

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