Wednesday, April 17, 2013

West Texas - How to Help

Plant Explosion Texas

At around 8:00 Wednesday the fertilizer factory in West, TX exploded.  At current the number is around 200 injured and 5 - 15 killed.  A nursing home, the Junior High, and many other buildings are badly damaged.  More info here and here.

Before I go to how to's some good articles for us as parents.  You may be wondering how to talk with your kids about this, and this article at World Vision offers some good tips.  If your kids actually experienced the disaster, this article at CNN may help..  I'd like to add to that that I think it helps to talk about the people who help (firemen, police, doctors and nurses, and just regular people who volunteer or give).   I think it helps kids to know that when bad things happen, there will be someone there.   And if you do talk about that, your kids might wonder what they can do...and this article talks about that.


  • April 24, WACO:  On Wednesday, April 24, Wingstop locations in Waco will donate 10 percent of sales to Red Cross to benefit those affected by last week’s tragic events in West. Donations will be accepted from 11 a.m. to midnight on Wednesday. The Waco Wingstop restaurants are located at:

    220 S 2nd St., Waco
    111 S New Rd, Waco
    600 N Loop 340, Bellmead
    1201 Hewitt Dr., Waco
  • APRIL 27-28, WACO:   West First Concert - Over a dozen bands have offered to play at a two day concert to West victims at The Melody Ranch.   Tickets are $10 for adults and $1 for kids 10 and under. (Show will be kid-friendly). Times are Saturday, 5 pm - 1 am, and Sunday, 2 pm to 10 pm. 
  • APRIL 27, WACO:  Harley-Davidson of Waco will be hosting a Crawfish Boil Relief Fundraiser on Saturday April 27th starting at 10:00am. There will be a live band, blood drive, adult beverages provided by Elite Circle Grille, and of course crawfish with all the fixings! ALL proceeds from this event will go to benefit the families that have been affected by this horrible disaster. If you have any questions or would like to help, please call 254-753-0393 and ask for Meredith, or email 
  • APRIL 28, AUSTIN:  Willie Nelson is donating the proceeds from his upcoming 80th Birthday Concert in Austin to West Families.  April 28th. There's several places selling tickets so a google search is your best bet.

Over 300 people that lined up to give blood yesterday! WOW!  There are also blood drives going on, listed below (warning, they may be crowded).  Both the Red Cross and Carter BloodCare asked potential donors to make appointments to give blood in upcoming days and weeks, at the Red Cross Website ( )or by calling 1-800-733-2767, or contact Carter BloodCare through   Also, various upcoming drives can be found HERE.

If you plan to give blood, make sure you are properly hydrated--ie, drink an extra glass or two before bed (orange juice is good too) and before heading to the donation site tomorrow or the next day.  People sometimes are not able to donate because of your iron levels or low hydration.  More tips for a successful donation here.


  • Aggieland Outfitters has also set up a number to text for information about volunteering. By texting "HELPWEST" to 99000, Aggieland Outfitters will provide information as it becomes available.  
  • Samaritan's Purse is organizing volunteers here.

Cash donations are most needed now.
  • Educators Credit Union accepting donations to benefit West ISD. All locations. Please make checks payable to: ECU – West ISD Relief Fund
  • Donations to the West Relief Fund can be made through Baylor online here.
  • GENCO Federal Credit Union has established an emergency fund for the Red Cross for use in West relief. Donations may be made at GENCO branch offices in Lacy Lakeview/Bellmead, Waco, Woodway and Lorena. Call 1-800-922-6428 for information.
  • Point West Bank in West has a fund established for emergency relief.
  •  The Knights of Columbus also have a Fund for West Disaster Relief with information at
  • The Waco Foundation will receive donations for a West, Texas Disaster Relief Efforts Fund with information on how to give on its website, Call Melissa Miller, director of communications and donor services, at 254-754-3404.
  •  You can donate to the Heart of Texas Red Cross here.  The Heart of Texas Red Cross also has an Ebay Giving Works page, so if you have items you would like to sell on ebay to raise funds (or shop items other people have given) you can so that there.  
  • You can give money at the check out counter of any Heart of Texas Good Will Store.
  • Texas Partners Federal Credit Union is accepting donations to assist the community of West through April 30. Cash donations are accepted and the credit union is selling “World's Finest Chocolate” to benefit relief efforts. Donations will be accepted at all branch locations: 2445 N. Main Street in Belton, 809 S. Main Street in Copperas Cove, 1011 Wales Drive in Killeen, and 6935 W. Adams Avenue in Temple. To mail a donation: Attn: West, TX Relief Fund, 1011 Wales Drive, Killeen, Texas 76549. Questions may be directed to Shelley Carlson at (254) 526-3081.
  • Cash Donations can be made at the grocery counter of any HEB grocery store.

While there are still places collecing in-kind gifts the Mayor of West says that "All the goods donated are wonderful but we have received so much, it has become a problem. At this time there are no real material needs for supplies. What will make the BIGGEST affect, is donate money..."  (DFW SCANNER WEBSITE)
  • I am not listing any places to bring in-kind gifts right now because the town of West has asked that people hold off on these for now as they have what they need.  However (and this isn't based on anything I've read, just a hunch of mine), I'm guessing that eventually they will probably need building supplies for the repair efforts.  I would hold onto those now if you have them to donate...but contact someone to let them know you have these and would be willing to donate them.  I wish I knew who to direct you to to ask but I'm not sure who the right person/organization would be.


  • Unfortunately, West Texas has caught the eye of Westboro Baptist Church and they will be tastelessly coming to picket the memorial at Baylor Thursday.  Volunteers who feel they can keep their composure and NOT ENGAGE these protesters in any ways will be forming a "human wall" around the memorial so that these protesters will not disturb the mourners attending the service.  You can find out more about this here.  Please everyone pray for peace and safety...and for God to give us the grace to know how to handle ourselves in this horrible situation.  
To paraphrase what a friend said...
"Emotions and energy are high...and I hope our community will continue to keep our composure and grace. These people thrive on hate. How wonderful would it be to render them powerless and impotent by our peacefulness and solidarity in honoring our dead and comforting their families. 
Instead of hate, let us demonstrate and show WE are Christian by our love....."


If Looking for Family Members...

    I found most of this info at KWTX and Picture thanks to Bay Area News Station (under creative commons on Flickr.)

    Thursday, April 11, 2013

    Weekend Picks: April 13 - 14

    Here are my picks of activities that sound fun for the family this weekend in Waco.


    Art on Elm
    This fun arts event will include activities for kids including crafts, clowns, a bounce house, and free popcorn.  You can find it at the corner of Elm and Dallas Street from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.

    Texas Vintage Baseball Game
    You can see a FREE baseball game, played like it was in the 1800s, starting at 11:00 at Marvin Norcross Stadium, SW Regional Little League Fields - 3700 S. University Parks Drive, Waco.  No alcohaul or glass bottles allowed.  Call Historic Waco Foundation for more information, 753-5166

    Waco Farmers Market
    Ok, this is always going on EVERY Saturday from 9:00 to 1:00, but at 400 South University Parks Drive it's just a hop skip and a jump from the other events I have featured, so you might swing by on your way (only problem...things may spoil in the car if you go first....though you could bring an ice chest.).

    See More Weekend Events Here

    Friday, April 5, 2013

    Weekend Picks: April 6 - 7

    The following events look fun for families!  I plan to visit some of these!

    All sorts of fun farm related activities for the whole family!   Arts and Crafts, Milking demonstrations, horseback riding, live music, and more!

    Save some money on gently used baby gear, and clothes for babies and kids at the seasonal Just Between Friends Sale this weekend!  The event is open to the public Friday and Saturday,  9am - 6pm, and Sunday 10am - 3pm  (Sunday is Half Price Day - marked items will be half price!).

    3rd Annual MCC Crawfish Boil and Cookout
    Saturday (time unknown):  Fun event benefiting MCC student organizations.   There will be good food (probably not free...I'm guessing), live music, a silent auction, and children's activities. Live music,silent auction, children's activities and more. For more information contact MCC Student Activities at 299-8443.

    Wednesday, April 3, 2013

    Upcoming Midway Bond Election

    The Midway ISD Board of Trustees unanimously called a bond election for $34,493,201 that will be held on May 11, 2013.  You must be registered to vote by April 11th, and early voting is April 29-May 7th.

    So, what will all that money buy?  You can find an item by item list on the Midway ISD Bond Website, but below is a summary...

    Technology Upgrades & Infrastructure -   $10,383, 789  
    Fine Arts and Extracurricular Activities -     $16,600,605
    Maintenance -                                                    $4,494,807
    Transportation -                                                 $3,013,000

    As a parent, a few items that really jumped out for me in the Technology section  were "security cameras"  and "mobile technology devices for every student."  

    If you're wondering how this will affect your taxes,  the following bullet points are verbatim what I received in an e-mail from Midway ISD about the upcoming bond...  
    • How will the proposed bond election affect my taxes? Midway ISD’s current I&S tax rate is $0.28. If the election is successful, the tax rate will not change.
    • How is it possible to issue $34.5 million in bonds without a tax rate increase? Increasing property values due to housing growth and industrial business development have increased the amount of revenue the district collects. These increased revenues will allow new debt to be issued without raising the tax rate.
    • Could taxes decrease without this bond? The average homeowner in MISD ($160,000) could see a tax decrease of $4 per month without issuing this bond program, if the Board of Trustees votes to lower the current tax rate in the future. The Board may choose to maintain the $0.28 tax rate to pay down current debt.

    More Info:
    Waco Trib Article about Bond Election
    Midway ISD Bond Website

    Hope you all vote.  Local elections like these are so important!

    Monday, April 1, 2013

    Campus Book Rentals - A Great Alternative to Buying Textbooks

    *This is a Sponsored Post*

    Hey Baylorites and MCC students...looking for a cheaper alternative to your campus bookstore? Homeschoolers, do you wish there was a cheaper way to get textbooks for your kiddos...books they'll only be using one year?  In stead of buying your books, you can rent them from  Here are some reasons you might want to go with CampusBookRentals...

    • Save 40-90% off of bookstore prices 
    • Free shipping both ways
    • You can Highlight in the textbooks 
    • Flexible renting periods
    • Dropped a class?  Return books within 30 days for free!

    I went ahead and checked on that 40% -90% claim by comparing with Amazon.  Looks pretty accurate   Of the dozen or so books I checked, all were drastically less than the price of buying the book from Amazon new, save one (which was on sale).  Used books were another matter...these were sometimes cheaper to buy on Amazon than to rent on CampusBookRentals.  Overall, though, I think if I were still a student, I'd add CampusBookRentals to my list of places to check.  And since I homeschool my kiddo in Spanish, I'm going to see what materials they have for that.  I did notice some other homeschooling curriculum while I was exploring.

    How does it work?

    They also have a program where you can make money renting YOUR textbooks!  So, if you want to see how you can earn a little cash from your old textbooks, check out

    There's one more really cool thing I wanted to mention about  For every book rented, a portion of the sales are donated to Operation Smile, an organization that performs life changing cleft lip surgeries on children whose families could not otherwise afford it.  So you can feel good that whether you're renting a book, or renting out your books, you're helping bring smiles to children!

    This is a paid post. I was compensated for posting about CampusBookRentals. My opinions, however, are my own. I have not personally used this service (I graduated College ages ago). I did do the comparison research on my own accord, not at the behest of Campus Rentals. I looked for recent editions of textbooks from the fields of science, psychology, English, and technology and compared prices on CampusRental and Amazon.