The Brattleboro Reformer has many colleagues around the country producing news for our "sister" papers. The Daily DFM is a "top picks" of today's national news. Consider it a collection of "things you should know, today."
1. Black Friday live: When the road to Cyber Monday leads through the mall
2. Black Friday chaos and craziness in 3 videos
3. This comet was supposed to be destroyed by the sun
Comet ISON appears as a white smear heading up and away from the sun. ESA/NASA/SOHO/GSFC
Comet ISON had a potentially fatal date with the sun on Thanksgiving, but there's evidence it may have survived.
"Continuing a history of surprising behavior, material from Comet ISON appeared on the other side of the sun on the evening of Nov. 28, 2013," states information from NASA on Friday.
The 4.5-billion-year-old space rock - described by the Associated Press as "basically a dirty snowball from the fringes of the solar system" - came within 1 million miles of the sun Thursday. As it got close, the roughly two-thirds of a mile wide comet disappeared from NASA's observatories and many scientists thought it had entirely disintegrated, reports NASA. The comet reappeared later as a streak of bright material heading away from the sun.
"Late-night analysis from scientists with NASA's Comet ISON Observing Campaign suggest that there is at least a small nucleus intact," says NASA
4. What's the latest Obamacare delay?
By Amber Phillips/Digital First Media
The small business portion of HealthCare.gov won't be fully working for another year. Andrew Harrier/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The Obama administration announced another delay in its signature health care law.
Small businesses won't be able to buy private health insurance for their employees on a federal online website until November 2014, a one-year delay in the administration's original plan to have the small business portion of the website ready this fall.
The section of the website that lets small businesses shop for insurance was already facing technical problems. In September, officials said it wouldn't be ready by the time HealthCare.gov went live Oct. 1 for individuals to buy their own health insurance.
The administration also announced this spring it was delaying until 2015 an option on the website that allows employees of small businesses to shop for their own insurance.
Small businesses, or those with under 50 employees, will need to work with insurance brokers to purchase health insurance until the website is ready, officials said.
Officials with Health and Human Services confirmed the delay after Politico reported it Wednesday, hours before the Thanksgiving vacation begins in Washington.
Wednesday's news of a delay is one of a series for the law: The administration announced this week the Spanish-language open enrollment portion of HealthCare.gov won't be running until December, a two-month delay.
And White House Spokesman Jay Carney said Friday the administration is also delaying 2015 s open enrollment period for individuals by a month next fall, from before Nov. 5 midterm elections to Nov. 15 (though Carney denied elections were the reason for the delay).
Warm winter clothes and boots for children fill the Reformer Christmas Stocking in Brattleboro. (Kayla Rice/Reformer)
Today we kick off the 2013 Reformer Christmas Stocking -- its 77th year. It is getting harder to tell each year when one year's Stocking ends and the next begins.
The Stocking has become a year-round program. In actuality, the children now have their coats, boots, hats, mittens and the younger ones, their snowpants. They are all set for this year's cold winter weather.
Distribution of the winter clothing took place from Nov. 8-16 this year. Over 1,330 children, ages 0-15, from 619 families were outfitted during those nine days. These numbers include several children from families who lost their possessions in recent house fires.
This is no small feat, but has been perfected over years and years of trying many options. Currently, during distribution, three to four families are scheduled every 15 minutes from 3 to 8 p.m. during the weekdays and all day on weekends.
It is very hectic at the "Stocking Store." Five or six volunteers are on hand to take the children through, with their parents or guardians, to make sure every item is a good fit with room to grow. Children are allowed to pick their favorite colors and styles from rows and rows of brand new outerwear. A Stocking committee member checks the family in and out and tries to keep everything moving along.
As families come and go, some do not keep their appointments. Volunteers quickly make calls during this time to try to reach them and remind them of their appointments, or to reschedule later in the week. Some have no transportation that day, but can come the next. And, there are those who for one reason or another, do not need to receive the Stocking's offerings after applying for them weeks earlier. Some have had friends or relatives hand down good coats/boots and say they don't need the Stocking after all. Or, there's Grandma, who surprised everyone by buying the kids winter coats and boots.
Nothing beats having a child say, "Are you sure we don't have to pay for this?" or having a parent say, "Thank you, I don't know how I could have outfitted them without your help this year.
Kyria Boice of Brattleboro helps her daughter Mya Johnson, 2, try on winter boots at the Reformer Christmas Stocking. (Kayla Rice/Reformer)
" Volunteers are always amazed at how polite and thankful the children are, not to mention the parents. This is the most rewarding part of the Stocking, in my opinion.
Some say the Stocking kicks off each year in August. Committee members, under the direction of Betty Elwell, Stocking chairperson, meet at the Reformer to set the goal and make plans for the season.
In September, letters are sent to guidance counselors, school nurses and Social Services' offices in Windham County and nearby New Hampshire. We ask them to decide which families are in need of help and for them to make sure the children take home and bring back the filled out forms. They then return the forms to the Stocking. The Stocking committee rarely sees any of these "helpers," but their consistent cooperation with this step year after year is much appreciated. Without them, how would we know who needed help?
Once the applications are returned, usually around Oct. 15, several committee members get together to pour over them, making final decisions on who qualifies. Then the families are notified when their appointments are going to be, keeping in mind the family's requested time available.
Stepping back further in the year, there are our purchasers, Missy Galanes and her husband Dick DeGray. Galanes has the connections to clothing distributors through her family's store Galanes Sport Shop that was on Main Street for many years. She is able to buy good quality coats and boots in bulk at lower prices at the end of the winter season, stocking the Stocking for the following year. She also buys up overstocked items locally when they become available.
The couple travels in and around New England to purchase what they can, keeping costs as low as possible. It is hard to figure out what the Stocking would do without those two and their dedication to the program.
Galanes also orders bulk shipments to be sent to Brattleboro. Trucks arrive at the Stocking headquarters off and on throughout the year. This is when volunteers are needed, sometimes with only a day's notice, to unload the truck, move the boxes inside, and unpack the contents.
Cory Hayward, 4, tries on a hat at the Reformer Christmas Stocking in Brattleboro. (Kayla Rice/Reformer)
Many volunteers are signed up for this activity, but many more are always needed.
It is hard to know when the knitters start for one season and finish the last. Their knitting and crocheting needles are busy year round, whether through the RSVP program which the Stocking provides with yarn, or on their own. Many hats, mittens, scarves and some sweaters are received for the children. This year there were several diaper covers with matching caps knitted for the younger kids. Another woman made several crib or lap blankets for the children to enjoy.
For me, the Stocking kicks off today. Now is when we are asking people to write checks to keep our town's Stocking going for another year. People may mail their donation to Reformer Christmas Stocking, P.O. Box 703, Brattleboro, VT 05302-0703, drop by the Reformer with the donation, or go online, using PayPal, on the Reformer web page, www.reformer.com.
So far this year, the Stocking has received $12,978. It is ahead of most years at the kickoff, but there are not as many weeks until the end of the year with Thanksgiving being so late. The Rasheds' 2011 donation of $4,622 was delayed so it is included in this year's listing. They will again this year be selling Christmas trees with 100 percent of the profit going to the Christmas Stocking at their Garden Center, Route 9, three miles west of Exit 2 off I-91, in West Brattleboro, daily from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. This will be the 13th year that they have done this.
The Brattleboro Union High School Madrigals led by Patty Meyer held an Elizabethan Dinner Theater on Nov. 15. They raised $796 to benefit the Reformer Christmas Stocking. The event was sponsored by many local businesses.
Each donation, as it is received, will be listed in the Reformer daily, as the donor requests. Donations may also be listed as anonymous.
This is where you, the donors, are now the most important part in keeping the Stocking going. Our goal this year is again set at $90,000. Please consider helping to keep the children warm by helping us reach our goal.
Pat Smith is the news clerk at the Reformer. She is a Reformer Christmas Stocking committee member and a former recipient of the program. She has been tallying the donations for well over 25 years. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 108.
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