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The Week in Social 11/16 - 11/20

Everywhere you look, Iowans are uniting like never before. While times may be tough right now, we’re seeing it won’t stop the great people in the state from supporting one another. Many have taken to social media to help those in their communities, share helpful resources or to simply highlight something positive to bring joy to others. The Week in Social will round up the best of #IowansUnite and share these uplifting stories.

A group of high school students have been hard at work on an initiative that will provide a boost to derecho recovery efforts in Marion. After the August derecho, many Iowans were left struggling in an already tough year. Neighborhoods had severe wind damage, including mass power outages, debris lined streets and property destruction. Marion was hit hard, but these students are determined to make an impact in a creative way.

The students are a part of Iowa BIG, an education program for high schoolers that allows them to learn by doing through real-world projects. With help from their teacher, the mayor of Marion and the Marion Parks Department, students Lindsay Radack, Leah Ahlers, Emma Gerlach, Lexi King, Ella Schultz and Connor French created the Iowa BIG Splinters project. By teaming up with local chainsaw artists, the initiative has created more than 20 bears, eagles, cardinals and more from a variety of fallen or damaged trees from the derecho.

The students created an online auction for the art to occur Nov. 23-29. Sixty percent of the proceeds will go to Trees Forever, while the rest will go to the chainsaw artists. Those interested in learning more can follow along on the group’s Facebook page.

Thanksgiving can be stressful in any year, let alone in 2020. As Iowans navigate the pandemic, figuring out what to make for Thanksgiving dinner can understandably be an afterthought. Fortunately, for those in the Greater Des Moines area, restaurants and grocers are offering an assortment of meals and to-go options to give customers some support.

On the list, you’ll find familiar Thanksgiving favorites like turkey, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, dinner rolls, stuffing, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie, as well as a cornucopia of other options to satisfy everyone.

After COVID-19 restrictions shut down schools in the spring, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach 4-H Youth Development saw a need that could be fulfilled. As many Iowans were spending more time at home, the Gardening to Give program was created for Iowans of all ages and abilities to get involved in the gardening and growing process. Participants in the program were encouraged to donate their produce to friends, neighbors and organizations in need in their communities.

Iowa 4-H recruited families to garden for other friends, family or community members from May through the end of October. After 25 weeks, the program wrapped with more than 1,000 individuals from 339 Iowa households in 82 of the state’s 99 counties. The program also had participants from California, Minnesota, New Jersey and Ohio.

“My favorite part of the Gardening to Give program was to see smiles on people’s faces when I gave them vegetables that we grew,” said Noah Shiner, a youth participant from Fremont County.

In 2019, deer hunters across Iowa donated more than 4,100 deer hides to Elk Lodges. The deer hides are used by the Veterans Leather Program to create professionally crafted leather gloves that are given to veterans in wheelchairs. The hides are also turned into leather that is used for therapy programs for recovering vets. These therapeutic kits and gloves come at no cost to the veterans.

The Veterans Leather Program relies on hunters to donate their deer hides in order to provide the leather to veterans in need. Those interested in donating deer hides are encouraged to contact their local Elks Lodge or visit

Published November 24, 2020

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