Left Justified: Christmas is coming early

Because of the sluggish economy, the president has called upon us to shop early for Christmas (in fact, George “W” tells us to shop no matter what the crisis).

I might agree with our president. And to help you make your holiday shopping experience more meaningful, Rockford Peace & Justice has reopened the Peace Store, 623 Seventh St., and will staff it with volunteers every Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., between now and Christmas.

The Peace Store was started after Rockford Urban Ministries moved into the former pornographic bookstore on Seventh Street. (And yes, there are still old customers coming into the new Peace Store.) They stock the latest political items, usually from a liberal bent as well as environmental gifts from around the world. There is a huge selection of used books focusing on civil rights, peace, the environment, labor, and history. Fair Trade mission groups like SERRV and 10,000 Villages send beautiful items. It’s a fun store, and if more volunteers come forward, they can open it longer hours. There is also a “white elephant table” of new presents that people never got around to using (you can donate yours). And finally, Heartwood Creations has given beautiful boxes including a four-drawer jewelry case.

But if you would like to get into the Christmas spirit by alleviating the suffering of hurricane victims and hungry people around the world, I encourage you to join and/or support the CROP Hunger Walk. All the funds go to reputable international aid agencies, and one-quarter of it comes back to Rockford for the Hunger Connection and the Food Pantry Coalition. The walk on Sunday, Oct. 17, starts at 2 p.m. from the Riverfront Museum Park, 711 N. Main St. You can pick up a sponsor record or drop off a donation at the Peace Store.

And don’t forget to vote!

With the election coming up, a lot of people want to talk issues. So Rockford Urban Ministries, whom I work for, is offering a Deliberation Day on Saturday, Oct. 16, from 8:30 in the morning until 3 p.m. at Court Street United Methodist Church, 215 N. Court St. in downtown Rockford. This is subtitled “A Civil Discussion of Civic Issues.” Attendees will break into groups in the morning and come up with questions about war and peace, the economy, education, and health care. The $10 registration fee will cover the lunch, but there are scholarships available. In the afternoon, representatives from four political parties (Republican, Democrat, Libertarian and Green) will answer questions formulated in the morning. The American Association of University Women, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Pi Gamma Omega Chapter, and the Rockford League of Women Voters co-sponsor the Deliberation Day.

Those of you who live in the Harlem Township will get a chance to vote on the casino (sorry, it’s non-binding). Gambling proponent Doug Aurand has placed the question on Harlem Township’s ballot and expects an overwhelming vote in favor of a riverboat in Rockford. Why Harlem Township citizens would vote to encourage compulsive gamblers to give their money to Rockford is beyond me. But using the lure of “jobs, jobs, jobs,” and the fear of the mythical and ever-threatening Beloit casino may drive voters to do something they usually wouldn’t.

There will be a discussion about the casino on Thursday, Oct. 14, 7 p.m. at Evans United Methodist Church, 7605 N. Second St. That’s just south of Harlem Road on the east side of 251. The program, of course, is free and open to the public and will feature an economist and a recovering compulsive gambler.

And finally, you are invited to a candidates’ forum for Winnebago County offices including county board chairman, circuit clerk, county recorder and county board at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 19, at Trinity Lutheran Church, 200 N. First St.

Ken DeCoster, WNTA program director, will be the moderator. Candidates who participate will be asked about themselves and to address key county issues including their viewpoints on a casino, urban sprawl, the jail and leaf burning. Tables for campaign literature will be provided. Co-sponsors are Rockford Area Lutheran Ministries and the League of Women Voters of Greater Rockford. They have a great cookie table.

Who says there’s nothing to do?

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

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