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Help make Christmas merry for all

by CAROLINE LOBSINGER
Staff Writer | December 6, 2022 1:00 AM

There's a new statue in London.

It doesn't depict a legendary explorer, a military hero or a politician from days gone by. There are no horses, no mythic creatures or Greek heroes.

Instead, it's of a woman that most people may never have heard of — and that's a shame.

The statue stands about 13 feet high and the woman is holding 92 balloons — one for each of the 92 foster children she has cared for — with a pair of soccer cleats in the other to honor her work with sports teams for children with special needs.

The statue was the brainchild of KIND Snacks, which had launched a nationwide search to find the United Kingdom's kindest heroes. Thousands of people were nominated, including many for a 52-year-old woman for East Yorkshire.

Jo Newby has fostered children for the past 20 years and, in the time, founded not one but three football teams (that's soccer for those of us on this side of "the pond") for children and young people in the East Yorkshire with special needs.

"I hope people can see it in a really positive way, that it's not necessarily about me," Newby told The Yorkshire Post. "It's the embodiment of all foster carers and every grassroots football coach and volunteer. It's more about representing those two really hard-working elements of our communities. Whilst the statue is a physical representation of me, it's kind of a recognition to every foster carer, every grassroots volunteer."

Lead by Newby's husband, Chris, more than 500 nominations were submitted for the East Yorkshire woman. Others came from supporters and members of the Barton Inclusive Football Club Hull, which foots three competitive pan-disability sports teams. And still others came from foster children that the Newbys took into their home.

“She’s like the really fun auntie you never you knew you wanted but you actually really needed, because without her I have no idea where I would have gone,” Sophie, one of Newby’s fostered kids, is quoted as saying in the GNN story.

Newby was honored but humbled by her selection, saying she hoped others could see the value of doing good and helping others.

“I’m so honored to be chosen as the UK’s kind hero, and for my husband Chris to have nominated me without my knowing. The world is so full of sadness and anger," she is quoted as saying in the story. "I just hope that people can see what an impact kindness has on others.”

Putting that kindness into practice are the Sandpoint Lions, who year in and year out through their annual Toys for Tots drive.

There were no new donations received today.

So far, the Lions have received $2,425 toward its $50,000 goal — the same as it has been in past years. The Lions make the most of the money by shopping bargains, and with the assistance of generous local businesses.

The Toys for Tots program provides free new toys for children living in the Lake Pend Oreille School District, from Sandpoint to Clark Fork and all points in-between. A Christmas dinner for the family is also provided.

If you know someone, or need help yourself, the Lions are taking applications for the Toys for Tots program. Applications are available at Bonner Community Food Bank and on the door of the Lions Den.

Donations for Toys for Tots can be dropped off at the front desk at the Bonner County Daily Bee, 310 Church St., from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. You can also drop off donations at Columbia Bank’s Sandpoint branch, 414 Church St., or at the Ponderay branch, 300 Bonner Mall Way; the Ponderay Starbucks, and the Ponderay Mountain West Bank.

Donations may be mailed to the Sandpoint Lions Club, Box 414, Sandpoint, ID 83864.

Donations made by check are preferred. Be sure to include a note with your check indicating that it is a Toys for Tots donation. If you wish to make an anonymous donation, please include a note.

If the donation is being made in someone’s name, be sure to also include a note.

Information: Sandpoint Lions Club, 208-263-4118

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