Tis the season…the Foundation's fundraising letters went out last week, alongside requests from many organizations seeking to continue their worthwhile and often critical services and programming to our communities. In this day and age of highly-tuned tracking, a donor to any cause will no doubt be inundated with requests from many other groups asking for support and it's challenging to decide who is most deserving of our charitable generosity.

How can one decide between large scale natural disaster relief or food for starving populations - or money to fight disease? How does that contrast with local needs like food shelves, homeless shelters, schools, religious institutions and social service agencies? What's the right balance between local, national and international giving in an era of so much need?

I don't have any easy answers, but I do know that being as informed as possible about the organization's mission and activities is important. Effectiveness and efficiency are good, but sometimes difficult to evaluate, especially with larger organizations. Which doesn't mean they aren't critical. When you think of international or even national crises you have to depend on larger non-profits with established connections to get your contribution to where it does the most good.

We all have causes that resonate in special ways due to personal experiences and sympathies. And St. Anthony Park is a community that is generous in spirit and in giving, here and beyond our borders. What I can tell you, as you consider your charitable giving this year, is that the non-profit institutions in our neighborhood are very well run and play an important role in our quality of life. Because they are relatively small, they require tremendous volunteer support and hardworking staffs. They are critical threads in weaving together the tapestry that is our community and are very worthy of your continued support. Thanks to all who have already given and will give in the weeks to come. We are able to make a difference because of your generosity.

Find out more about what the Foundation and other local np's do on Dec. 5 from 6:30-8:30 at the StAP Elementary School. The Foundation is hosting an info fair as well as a panel of experts talking about the present and future neighborhood landscape. Be there!

D12

Give to the Max Day 
…was a little more challenging this year, but it seems they still did all right state-wide. Locally, our community council was trying to raise $2,000 to get a match from the Knight Foundation and came up $200 short. But, there's still time! You can contribute at GiveMN.org or just send a check to D12 at 890 Cromwell, that way they don't get charged by GiveMN for the transaction fee. $200 is doable!

Progressive Dinner March 1
This wonderful neighborhood event is back for another year. I have often said that you could wander into any house or apt. in St. Anthony Park and find new and very interesting friends. This makes that course of action a little more hospitable as you get an invite and can share the experience with 4-6 other new and old friends. Here's a link to find out more and register.

Schools

Murray
Since my report last week on Murray's settling in process, I have heard that there have been some unsettling moments over the past months, as a school that had a population of 800 7th & 8th graders added on an additional population of 6th graders. I'm not sure how many 6th graders there were this year, but it definitely made the building environment cozy. Mix that with the usual middle school student's social and personal chemistry and you have the potential for some challenging situations to say the least. 

I certainly don't want to sugar coat what we all hope are simply growing pains in this first year of the big transition, but as a parent of former students, I know how hard it is to watch your kids run up against even "normal" change. Unfortunately, as much as you try, any major systematic change is going to work better for some than for others. There will be those students and parents who will lose confidence in the District's overall strategy based on their perspective of its implementation success.

I can only hope that parents and students practice patience and engage staff and administration in constructive problem-solving when issues arise. The proof of the plan's wisdom will manifest itself over time and if problems still exist, I trust in Murray's administrators and teachers to figure out how to work with the district to modify the plan where necessary. Our community has a deep commitment to public education and our schools. The Foundation will continue to promote conversation and support solutions that benefit all stakeholders in the system. It's important to keep in mind the ultimate goal of achievement for all students and do everything we can to work together to make that goal a reality.

listserv

Raptor Center
The University of MN Raptor Center reports that it's on track to treat nearly 1,000 feathered friends this year. That's up from 786 patients last year. The injuries are varied but wing repair is a constant challenge. The Center has been running a multi-part article on the fragility of feathers that you can read on their website. There are many things that can damage feathers from parasites to burrs to fenders. It's very interesting and informative reading.

St.APnotes

Kristal Leebrick's Book Launch
This coming Tuesday, Nov. 26, at 7pm, Bugle editor, Kristal Leebrick will be at Micawbers to host a launch party for her new book, Dayton's: A Twin Cities Institution. The book delves into the lives and stories of the people who worked with and for one of our most memorable department stores. I know I still catch myself referring to Macy's as Dayton's and that name went away at least a dozen years ago and probably more. Anyway, as anyone who has read the Bugle can attest, Kristal is a gifted writer and editor. Come to Micawber's to help her celebrate - and buy the book, it'd be great holiday gift!

Joy of the People Celebrates 4 Years in the Park!
The local soccer organization that has promoted free play for our area youth just celebrated their 4th birthday. Congratulations to director, Ted Kroeten and good luck on the Field of Joy project. Here's a link to their website to find out more about what could become the first North American Puckleball field.

That's all for now. Take care of yourself and be a good neighbor.