Thursday, November 27, 2008

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Secondhand toys shouldn't mean sacrificing safety

Cash-strapped shoppers looking for bargains this holiday season may turn to thrift stores and online sellers for deals on secondhand toys and other gifts. But consumer safety advocates warn that buyers should be cautious when considering such items because they might have been recalled or banned for dangerous defects or toxic materials.

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Air Force chaplain followed conscience

The Rev. John Painter's desire to serve abroad pulled gently at his conscience, then grew strong and clear when the Air Force Chaplain Service called in June. Painter, who is a chaplain at the Ralph H. Johnson Veterans Affairs Medical Center, voluntarily deployed Sept. 5 to Ali Air Base in southern Iraq. He will forego Thanksgiving and Christmas, and his two children will turn a year older before he returns home in January 2009.

Volunteers replacing Christmas production scenery

SUMMERVILLE â€" A few pieces of Christmas were stolen from Nick Frasher's driveway this week. Five painted panels for Crossroads Community Church's annual production, "When Love Came Down," had been stored in a utility trailer at Frasher's house. As a creative arts minister, he has spent months working with volunteers to create backgrounds for the production with a cast of more than 70 people.

For the jobless, Christmas turns a little blue

They had envisioned a different holiday season. But after being laid off, some of the dozens of people filing for jobless benefits Wednesday at the Employment Security Commission said that their holiday gift-giving would reflect their reduced circumstances. "No ring, no fancy jewelry for her, and no big loud stereo system for me. We don't have Christmas any more because of lack of funds," said Esau Simmons, 27. He said that he was recently laid off, at least temporarily, from his $12.75 per hour job making automobile steering gears after two years with his employer.

Beach redbay trees in jeopardy

Among the live oak and palmetto, redbay trees usually don't get much notice. Until now. "They're dying all up and down here," said Roy Baylor, pointing both ways along Arctic Avenue on Folly Beach. "These trees saved our house during (Hurricane) Hugo," Kelly King said sadly as she looks up at the browned leaves of the big tree in her front yard a few streets back.

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