Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX


March 1, 2014

Winds of change

Local man makes lawn ornaments, donates funds to H.O.P.E

JACKSONVILLE — Three years ago, Calvin Howell watched a beloved uncle receive help from H.O.P.E. in Jacksonville at his time of need.

Thanks to the organization, his uncle had breakfast and lunch provided ... meals he sometimes went without because of lack of money. And, Howell said, the people at H.O.P.E. treated his uncle like their own family.

"Their classes on Money Management and Life Enrichment were also free. What they did for him allowed him to get a new lease on life,"

Howell said.

Howell has not forgotten the help given to his family member, and he now strives to help H.O.P.E. raise funds to assist others in the community by creating whimsical pieces of art he calls whirligigs.

Whirligigs are wooden birds and bees cutouts with moveable parts that spin as they are stirred by an outside breeze. And Howell makes and sells them, then donates the money to the organization.

“The first year I decided to help, I just set aside some of the money I made on my whirligigs and gave it to them," Howell said. "Last year The Daily Progress heard of what I was doing, made 'Bluebirds of Happiness' front page news, and together with the help of merchants and readers we raised over $1,200."

Howell said he has been making the fun outdoor decorations since he moved to East Texas about 10 years ago. He said he got the idea after visiting an old family home and remembering how his father, grandfather and great-grandfather always had weather vanes or whirligigs atop their barns and homes.

"After I retired, I had visions of making whirligigs and selling them to supplement my SS, so I built my little (10 x 10) shop, dusted off my collection of old tools and began to play. I've given away more whirligigs than I've sold," he said.

He added that The Basket Company often allows him to use wood from their scrap heap.

Howell said similar types of ornaments have been in existence as early as 400 B.C., according to the National Palace Museum of Taiwan; the traditional pinwheel on a stick evolved into what is now known as whirligigs, he added.

This year Howell is making bluebirds, hornets, redbirds, bees and Indians paddling a canoe, selling for  $35 each. Place your order at (903) 316-9973. He will deliver orders within a 30-mile radius of Jacksonville. Orders may also be picked up at H.O.P.E., located at 595 S Ragsdale. Make all checks out to H.O.P.E. Donations to H.O.P.E. are tax deductible and are always appreciated.

Plans are also underway for the Castle on the Lake event benefitting H.O.P.E. The event will take place Saturday, April 12, with doors opening at 6 p.m., followed by a live auction beginning at 7 p.m.

The event is the largest fundraiser for H.O.P.E  and is held every other year at the Castle on the Lake in Jacksonville. In addition to a live auction, there will be a silent auction and an opportunity to purchase Surprise Boxes containing special gifts. New this year is a Wine Pull, in which guests will have an opportunity to purchase corks that are matched to  bottles of wine donated for the event. The wine might be a $25 bottle of wine or it may be a $100 bottle of wine.

Tickets are $50 per person and include dinner and dancing.

The mission of H.O.P.E. is to provide emergency assistance to the poor and provide the resources needed for self-sufficiency. Organized in 1991, Hope is a one “stop” service organization that provides a spectrum of social services including a community kitchen to feed the hungry; case management; assistance with emergency prescriptions; transportation to medical appointments; and a weekend back pack program that provides nutritional meals to school children during the two-day break.

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