How Local Charities Are Working Toward a Happy Holiday for All

How Local Charities Are Working Toward a Happy Holiday for All

By Alli Myers

What’s on your holiday wish list this year? A big reality check is usually a good thing for people around the holidays. Are you asking for too much?  There are a lot of families out there that aren’t as fortunate as others during this time. While you’re dreaming about those ever-famous sugarplums and expensive Apple products, designer clothes or a fancy new watch, there’s a little kid out there that only wants a toy truck or a Barbie doll for the holidays. Some want warm sheets for their beds, or a new jacket with all its buttons to keep warm during winter. The simplest thing could light up a child’s world this time of year through participation in the Adopt-A-Family (AAF) program run by The Salvation Army.

By adopting a family with AAF, both individual and group sponsors help to provide reasonable wish list items to a family that would otherwise have a slightly less merry holiday.

The Salvation Army website states, “Being adopted is designed to be a once or, on very rare occasions, twice in a lifetime event for recipient families.” The guidelines supplied by the Salvation Army state that only $45 is required to make a happy holiday possible for a family of two (one parent and a child). There’s no limit to the amount that the sponsor can give, but it’s surprising just how far that money can go. Of the $45 donation, just $25 can purchase several gifts for a hopeful child, leaving $20 to supply a good amount of food for the family during the holidays.

Students right here at MSU are getting involved this holiday season doing whatever they can to help bring a little joy to their neighbors.

Education freshman Kara Kavulich said that she and her family adopted a family last year, and said that it was one of the most rewarding feelings she has ever experienced.

“It felt amazing to know that I was giving Christmas to two little kids that otherwise would have seen nothing under their tree,” Kavulich said.

Grandma’s Comfort (GC) is a charity right here in Lansing that helps give to a lot of people in the community, especially around the holidays. President Diane Zimmerman is the “grandma” in the name, and is actually an MSU alumna. She founded GC on Christmas in 2005. GC started out supplying blankets but has expanded in the past several years. They now provide birthday gifts, necessities for pregnant women in shelters, comfort bags for women and children in shelters and school supplies. The organization has also helped two orphanages and one boys’ school in Haiti.

The blankets supplied are both hand made and purchased, and also donated from members of the community. GC is always accepting donations, and it is an easy way to get involved right here at school.

Zimmerman explained, “We have no employees; we have a few specialists that help us and about 60 volunteers who help wrap and make gifts.”

Whether you take the time to make a blanket or purchase something that could help a child or a family in need, anything you can do will go a long way with Grandma’s Comfort.

Another way to help out is through Toys for Tots, a well-known program that is run by the United States Marine Corps, Toys for Tots has donation stations where donors can drop off toys that will be donated to less fortunate kids for the holidays.

“I bought a couple toys to donate to Toys for Tots, and I think that is just such a great cause,” said biochemistry and molecular biology sophomore Hailey Caudill. She added that even by spending less than five dollars, she was able to get some coloring pages and crayons that she knows will bring a smile to a child’s face.

“I can’t imagine being a little kid and thinking, ‘Why didn’t Santa come visit me this year?’” Caudill said.

Even though the holidays are meant to be about family, friends and happiness, a gift here and there definitely never upset a child. Anything you can do to help out this holiday season can go a whole lot farther than you think, and the AAF, Marine Corps, Grandma’s Comfort and The Salvation Army have made it their mission to help spread holiday cheer. Stop and think about what you are fortunate enough to have this season, and think about what you can give to others to keep the holiday spirit alive!

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MSU Auditorium Turns Into a Haunted Affair

MSU Auditorium Turns Into a Haunted Affair

By Alli Myers

Haunted houses are a Halloween classic. There’s always a handful of people who simply love to be scared out of their minds leading up to the 31st of October. The MSU Department of Theatre is the group behind the scenes of MSU’s very own “Haunted Aud”. Every year the department turns the Auditorium, located on Farm Lane and Auditorium Road, into a haunted house for students to go through during the weekend of Halloween. This year, the event was held from the 28th through the 30th. Anyone was welcome, students or not, from 8 p.m. to midnight.

Photo Credit: Jenna Chabot

This year’s theme was a psychiatric ward. The line waiting to go in was set up like the waiting room in a hospital, and the Auditorium was filled with actors from the department portraying the patients and doctors. When let in to the first hallway, visitors were greeted by the doctors and nurses of the ward, who were every bit as troubled as the patients. There was someone following you down almost every hallway, people screaming for help to get out of the psych ward, and amazing props. Among these were patients screaming chained to beds, body parts scattered around the rooms, chainsaws, medical devices and much more. All of this and more often made you forget you were even in the Auditorium.

“The Auditorium is creepy without even trying, so we make it even scarier,” said theater sophomore Shannon Melick. The fact that MSU’s Auditorium has all of the necessary props to put on almost any kind of show supplied them with everything needed to perform a complete makeover on the space.

Peter Martino, a junior in the Department of Theatre studying lighting design, was the master electrician for the event.

“My favorite part about Haunted Aud is having students come through and showing them that our department can do more than put on a play,” he said.

Turning the Auditorium into a spooky haunted house was done on a budget of about $500, Martino said. The event cost $10 for students, and was used as a fundraiser for the theater department.

Melick went through the Auditorium on opening night and said, “The only thing that made it a little scary for me was that I knew almost all of the actors.” She said that hearing her own name down almost every hallway gave her even more goose bumps than she already had, but at the same time reminded her more than others that it was all just a setup.

The theatre department has a few plays coming up for the end of the semester.

Photo Credit: Jenna Chabot

“The Beaux Stratagem” will be held on November 20 in the Arena Theater. Melick described the play as a “restoration comedy”. Written by George Farquhar in 1707, it centers around two men trying to find rich heiresses to marry in order to restore their fortunes. Following “The Beaux Stratagem” is the fifth annual Freshmen Showcase, running from Dec. 2-4, where all the new freshmen in the department show off their talent in a series of shows.

Also approaching are a few big events from the MSU Roial Players, a student-led theater group that runs through the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities. “Audience”, a short comedic play, will take place Nov. 17-20. Following “Audience” is “The Laramie Project”, described by Roial Art Director Megan Kelly as “a compilation of interviews surrounding the murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay college student from Laramie, Wyo.”

Between the theater department and the Roial Players, MSU has a lot of shows and events coming up. Tickets for the theater shows can be found purchased from the Wharton Center Box Office, and tickets for Roial events can be purchased at the door in the basement of Snyder-Phillips Hall.

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Feather Extensions: Real or Faux?

Feather Extensions: Real or Faux?

By Alli Myers

From yoga pants and moccasins to crackle nail polish and skinny jeans, guys with their names tattooed on their backs to girls strutting the “top-of-the-head” bun, we’ve all seen trends go just as quickly as they came. A trend that has made its mark on an immense number of girls everywhere is the feather hair extension fad. Just one glance around MSU’s campus will show you a multitude of colors and styles, adding flair at a small price supplied by many salons right here in the East Lansing area.

According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the roosters that are plucked to create hair accessories are kept in small, stacked cages for about 30 weeks in loud, dirty barns. The roosters are bred and genetically enhanced to produce unusually long, luxurious feathers known as “grizzly saddle” feathers.

Photo taken by Jenna Chabot

These are the long, skinny black and white striped feathers that come from the back of the rooster. They are then killed and skinned, sometimes actually plucked for their feathers while they are still alive. This process kills them eventually, but it is a very slow and painful death for them.

The PETA Files, a website supplying information about animal cruelty and other campaigns PETA is a part of, describes these conditions, quoting the owner of Whiting Farms, a rooster farm in Delta, Colorado, who said, “We’re sentencing each rooster to a solitary cage for the last six months, with nothing to look at or listen to other than lots of other confined roosters.”

Grizzly saddle feathers are quickly increasing in demand, some of them selling for hundreds of dollars. Salons have been well known for hitting up local bait shops in order to get their hands on these. This angers serious fishermen going for the “good bait,” who use them to tie their fly on to the line. The feathers catch the attention of various types of fish, depending on whether you use a bright feather or a natural colored one. Right alongside the annoyance of the fly fishers is the even greater outrage it causes amongst animal activist groups.

Grand River Bait and Tackle is right off MSU’s campus located at 526 E. Grand River. The first thing Joe Mull had to say about the feather fad was, “Every time someone calls or comes in here asking about saddle feathers, I know they’re asking for hair. I haven’t been able to restock in awhile because there’s a shortage right now; all the birds are dead.”

Mull also said that he used to sell a pack of ten feathers for five or six dollars, and now sells them at six dollars or more each. The shop is currently out of saddle feathers because of the amount of salons coming in and buying out the stock.

“I get a lot of very unhappy fly fishermen coming in the store trying to buy them,” Mull said. “We’re always sold out of them these days. The majority of people that come in asking for them are hair stylists because one good feather can last a fisherman a couple years.”

PETA takes a stand against feather extensions. Strong supporter and a representative for the organization Ryan Huling said, “PETA is opposed to the use of feathers in the fashion industry because of the cruelty of animals involved. We strongly encourage people to choose alternative forms of these feathers, ones that do not harm animals in any way.”

Huling, even with his strong distaste for where the extensions come from, did not try to discourage the trend as a whole. He said that he thinks it’s a fun trend, and there is nothing wrong with synthetic feathers.

Huling does take issue with the fact that it can be difficult to tell the difference between a real feather and a synthetic one.

“This concept is kind of like faux fur,” he said. “PETA always promotes alternatives that are free of all forms of animal cruelty.”

He said that if you don’t want to give the impression that you are wearing real rooster feathers, wear something that clearly does not come from an animal. He laughed and said, “Like pink fur. You get the fluffy look of fur, but that clearly didn’t come from any animal.”

“I like the feather trend,” said marketing freshman Kelly Munzenberger, who got a feather extension over the summer.  “I think it’s a good way to do something different to your hair without dying it.” Munzenberger was surprised to learn that thousands of roosters are actually killed every year in order to supply the long, luxurious feathers that are used to make the extensions.

“I didn’t even know that some of the feathers were made from roosters,” she said.

Salon Meridian is one salon on the list of many that supply the feathers. Employee Carleana Delacruz said they sell between 30 and 40 feathers per month on average. Delacruz said she was shocked to learn about the mistreatment and slaughter of birds that takes place in order to make the extensions.

“I know that the feathers we use most often are real,” she said. “They are made from the same proteins as human hair, which is why we are able to style them, but I had absolutely no idea that the roosters were killed.”

She explained that clients have asked for alternative synthetic feathers stating, “The only difference in the synthetic feathers is that you cannot style them, but they look the same as the natural ones”.

Spanish sophomore Kaitlyn West also sports a feather, but hers is an authentic saddle feather. West said that she really doesn’t know much about where the feathers come from or how they’re made, real or synthetic.

“I would have gotten synthetic feathers if I had known they were available. I am such an animal lover, and I would have never intentionally gotten real feathers knowing now that it harms and kills the roosters. I think the trend is dying down. It was fashionable, but it definitely isn’t worth the cost of hurting harmless and helpless animals.”

According to MTV Style, Ke$ha is a big follower of the feather trend. This pop star, however, is an even bigger supporter of the synthetic options. She made a point of telling her fans about online sites that sell synthetic feathers making sure to emphasize that she is not involved in the killing of roosters just to add pizazz to her hair.

Any trend has its ups and downs and ins and outs whether short or long lived. Feathers may be the hot item right now, but who knows what will be “in” tomorrow. The trend, in a way, can be compared to choosing a vegetarian lifestyle. If someone is against ending an animal’s life to benefit themself, they simply avoid it. If you are against harming and killing roosters to add a feather extension to your hair, ask for synthetic ones at your salon or search around for an awesome one online.

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