Darts and laurels

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 8, 2006

Laurels to people, clubs and companies that help others enjoy the gift of sight. Some optical companies offer special services for people who can’t afford vision care. LensCrafters, for example, provides exams and eyeglasses to underprivileged children as part of its Home Town Day pro-gram. Detecting vision problems among the young is particularly important; if they can’t see well, often they can’t learn well. Organizations that focus on vision are emphasizing eye health in the Hispanic community, where diabetes is a frequent problem. Nearly 21 million Americans, both adults and children, have diabetes. Prevent Blindness America says 1.5 million Americans aged 20 and older were diagnosed in 2005 with the disease, and diabetic eye disease has become the leading cause of new cases of blindness in adults. Protecting vision is important all through life. To get a resource guide for people with vision needs, call Prevent Blindness at 1-800-543-7839.

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Laurels to good news closer to home. The crew from “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” brightened the lives of a Raleigh family this week by replacing their two-bedroom, one-bath house with a Tudor-style home twice its size. Linda Riggins suffers with arthritis in her hip, and husband William is legally blind. But they have worked for 15 years with Building Together Ministries mentoring disadvantaged parents and helping with after-school programs. With program star Ty Pennington on the bullhorn, crews did several months’ worth of work in one week to give the Rigginses a new home, and they spread the joy across the street to Building Together Ministries with a new roof and kitchen, improvements to the auditorium, new paint on the exterior and a refurbished bus. The Riggins’ story is one that never grows old: Determined people overcome their own problems to help others. Now it has an “Extreme Makeover” twist: They receive a fantastic new house to make their lives easier. See it for yourself at 8 p.m. Jan. 21 on ABC. The blessings go on and on.

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Dart to the many ways fires can accidentally start and wreak havoc on people’s lives. Residential fires in Rowan this year have stemmed from such causes as a short in a ceiling fan, lint in a dryer filter and, the latest, candles left to melt atop a stove so they’d give off a fragrance without burning the wick. Who knew overheated candles could ignite, catch a stovetop on fire and spread to wooden cabinets above? It’s a proven fact; just as firefighters from the Union Volunteer Fire Department. Christmas and winter are fraught with fire dangers, from overburdened electrical outlets lighting up Christmas trees to space heaters that get too close to bedding or curtains. Be on guard for dangers both obvious and not-so-obvious. ‘Tis the season.