Imagine turning your family loose in a department store at Christmas and telling everyone to fill several shopping carts.

Just spend! Grab items off the shelf! Don't worry about the cost!

Boys purchase the "boy toys" and girls get the "girl toys."

It is a whirlwind of a shopping trip. It can also be difficult to fathom the feeling of such a shopping frenzy.

One SeaTac family can actually tell how it feels, because it is a holiday tradition.

Meet Pam and John Cowin.

Photo credit: 
Photo by Joy Henley

John and Pam Cowin stand in front of their 15-passenger van that they fill with gifts for foster kids every Christmas season.

Natalie Reber has been selected as the new executive director of Hospitality House.

Hospitality House is a women's homeless shelter located at Lake Burien Presbyterian Church in Burien.

Reber has extensive experience working with non-profit and political organizations such as Washington CeaseFire and the League of Education Voters.

She said her passions include a deep commitment to social justice.

"We are pleased to welcome Natalie to our organization as we prepare for uncertain economic times ahead," Joan Brown, president of the shelter's board, sai


In late February the Compass Center, with the help of loans from United Way of King County and the city of Seattle, purchased the property at 1753 N.W. 56th St. from the Low Income Housing Institute with the intent of constructing low-income housing for single adults.

Rick Friedhoff, executive director of the Compass Center, said the project is in the early stages of development but it will most likely be a six-story, 50,000-square-feet building housing 60 to 75 residents.

Photo credit: 
Photo from Compass Center

COMPASS CENTER IN BALLARD. The Compass Center is in the early stages of planning a six-story low-income housing development in Ballard. Executive director Rick Friedhoff said neighbors are often happy with how the center's projects, such as this 32-unit building in the Cascade neighborhood, turn out.

After last week's news of protests over Christian and Athiest displays at

the state capitol, I feel compelled to write:

This country was absolutely created to be officially non-religious. That

doesn_t mean that everyone is an athiest or that the majority of people are

not religious. It means that it was extremely important to keep religion out

of government and government out of religion. It is based on the idea that


Agnostics... just ignore this.

I see spacious windows decorated with glistening objects everywhere. At one time they celebrated Christmas. I see artfully decorated trees everywhere. At one time they too celebrated Christmas. Carolers were invited to sing in stores. Not anymore. Instead of nativity scenes, angels and wise men it's cute Scotty dogs, colorful toys and frosted birds. Christ has been taken out of Christmas. So now I wonder if in the future some nut will try to take Christ out of Christian churches too.

But I'm glad it's still legal to say Merry Christmas.


Help! Help! Help!

Mayor Greg Nickels and some city council members propose to take our tiny pocket park in North Admiral and turn it into a muddy pit filled with old logs and boulders.

We now have one of the few open spaces left in our neighborhood a teacup park surrounded by lovely trees.

He (and his wife) and a small contingent of parents of preschoolers and a daycare commercial enterprise have been meeting for months. They did not poll those of us that live on the perimeter of the park. They got themselves an architect, signs and funding.


It was a clear, cool evening driving home from Thanksgiving dinner. We turned off of 320th onto Military Road, and as we rounded a bend near the church, a car coming from the opposite direction looked like it was going to hit us.

Mrs. A shouted and I winced. The car whoosed by, not necessarily in our lane, but with headlights so bright we were sure it was coming right at us.


For 10 minutes this Christmas season, Highline residents can be transported to Bethlehem while driving through the parking lot at Normandy Christian Church.

The seventh annual drive-through Christmas story is being presented at the church on Dec. 13 and 14 from 6 p.m.


At the Farmers Market

This week will feature apples, goat bratwurst, summer and Italian sausage, pepperoni, Landjaeger, butter, chocolate milk, cheddar cheese, wild mushrooms, beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, celery root, chard, fennel, garlic, greens, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, leeks, onions, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkins, radiccio, radishes, rutabaga, shallots, spinach, squash, turnips, aprums, pears, nuts, cheese, eggs, pork, beef, chicken, duck, veal, lamb, Pate


As part of a county-wide movement to encourage local, sustainable holiday celebrations this year,, the South King County Cultural Coalition, has joined King County Executive Ron Sims and the mayors of several south county cities in issuing proclamations to "Buy and Celebrate Locally."

"Even in these challenging economic times, people still want to celebrate the holidays, and many of our local performing arts organizations have really wonderful festivities," said Linda Petersen, SoCoCulture chairwoman, pointing out that in Burien a

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