Dec. 3—Thumbs up to everyone involved in helping send about 100 sets of football equipment to a youth group in Mexico that otherwise would have been without.
Longtime Mankato youth football organizer Neil Kaus was just about to throw away old football equipment as it was past its prime when Pastor Libby Englehorn of Crossview Covenant Church asked by email if he possibly had an football equipment that could be donated to the church.
The church is involved in missions in Mexico and one of them is helping teach youth football, which is still pretty rare in that country. Kaus was within days of throwing the equipment away and it seems a bit of serendipity came his way.
Kaus, who works for Caswell Sports, calls the coming together of the mission needs and his ready supply of equipment his "God story."
Those stories can only happen when kind hearts give them a start. The charity effort in this case is laudable.
Y's Club serves community
Thumbs up to the six-decade tradition of the Mankato Y's Club selling Christmas trees.
That tradition has ended, the victim of what many service groups have faced — fewer volunteers.
The club decided to end the tree lot after struggling for a few years to find enough people to operate it.
The club's mission is to raise funds and support youth programming for the Mankato YMCA. The club also sponsors the summer corn roast.
The club has seen its membership fall from about 40 to 15.
People who have patronized the Y's tree lot can still buy a tree knowing the money will be put to charitable efforts by going to the Knights of Columbus Christmas tree lot.
The fraternal service organization is selling trees at the Circle Inn parking lot in North Mankato from 4:30-7:30 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays.
A new generation
Thumbs up to a less geriatric congressional leadership.
Seniority has long been connected to power in Washington, but it's been overdone in recent years. Joe Biden every day sets a new record as oldest president; his predecessor was 74 when he left office. The two caucus leaders in the U.S. Senate, Chuck Schumer of the Democrats and Mitch McConnell of the Republicans, are 72 and 80 respectively.
And Nancy Pelosi, beginning her final month as speaker of the House, is 82. Her long-time chief lieutenants, Steny Hoyer and Jim Clyburn, are also in their 80s.
This week the Democratic caucus replaced all three. The new leader, Hakeem Jeffries of New York, is 58. Hoyer and Clyburn's successors, Katherine Clark and Pete Aguilar, are 59 and 43, respectively. (Kevin McCarthy, the GOP leader in the House, is also 58.)
Much will be made, rightly so, of Jeffries as the first non-white to lead a congressional party. Just as significant is this: He is the first leader of the House Democrats to be born after World War II.
Thumbs up to the contributions of political cartoonist Gene Basset, who died Nov. 24 at age 95.
Basset was a nationally known newspaperman who retired to St. Peter where his wife, Ann, is from.
Basset worked at numerous newspapers as a cartoonist during his career, including in Brooklyn, Boston and Honolulu. He also worked for Scripps-Howard Newspapers, which eventually assigned him to cover the Vietnam War.
In 1963 he was runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize and in 1964 received The Population Institute first prize.
He retired from full-time work at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 1993. He then freelanced for several years at The Free Press, winning state awards.
He also collaborated on books, participated in local drawing groups and donated generously to the Hillstrom Museum at Gustavus Adolphus College.
And we at The Free Press are lucky that Basset shared his talent and wit with our readership. His pen may now be motionless, but he left his mark, and we are grateful he shared his skills in a much smaller market than he was used to.