Originally created 11/23/04

Family briefs



Shopping safety

NEW YORK - Stores and malls are filled with sights, sounds and crowds this time of year, making it difficult to keep tabs on all your belongings - and your children.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children partnered with Honeywell to create holiday-shopping safety tips. They include:

-Avoid leaving children in toy or specialty stores while you go elsewhere. The store personnel is not trained to supervise or care for children.

This rule goes for arcades, movie theaters and playgrounds as well.

-Remind children to stay alert and remind them where they are and who they're with at all times. Parents should do the same since it's easy to become distracted in the hubbub.

-Don't put children's names on clothing for all to see, but be sure kids carry some sort of identification and emergency contact information.

-Teach children to look for people who can be sources of help if they get lost. They might include uniformed law enforcement officers or security guards, store salesperson with name tags, people working at information booths or even a mother with a child.

Also, tell children not to leave the store or mall to go to the parking light to try to find the family car.

-Stick together. Nothing takes the place of your supervision.

-Children shouldn't accept gifts without checking with parents or guardians first - this applies not only to strangers but also friends and acquaintances.

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Giving back

NEW YORK - Teenagers often are portrayed as selfish clotheshorses, but retailer American Eagle found that its young customers are interested in giving back.

The company, with Sovereign Marketing, surveyed more than 1,000 15- to 25-year-olds and found that 88 percent of respondents were interested in volunteer work, though 41 percent have never done it.

What's stopping them? Aside from being busy, 34 percent said they hadn't found anything they're passionate about and another 29 percent said they didn't know how to get started.

American Eagle responded with its Great Gifts program. Potential good samaritans can come into stores to learn about volunteering in their communities, and also can donate $1 to either YMCA National Safe Place, the early literacy program Jumpstart, or Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. All funds raised will go directly to the causes.

In return for a donation, American Eagle will give out a rubber bracelet - available in blue, orange, red and green - that's etched with the store's name.

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Seussian celebrations

NEW YORK - The Cat in the Hat does his best to explain why we hang wreaths, light candles and string colored lights to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa - all in rhyme - in "Hurray for Today! All About Holidays."

The book, by Bonnie Worth and published by Random House, is part a learning library featuring Dr. Seuss' beloved character, all done in Seussian style by illustrator Aristedes Ruiz.

It also covers traditions such as New Year's Day resolutions, groundhog Phil's shadow, Easter eggs and jack-o'-lanterns.

"Holidays are occasions we have for a reason, to mark someone's birthday or ring in a season," according to the book.

"Each comes with a ritual. What's that? You ask. It's an action you take - a joy or a task - year in and year out, either party or dance, prayer or parade or a series of chants, that says a day's special and worth more than a glance."