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There are places scattered throughout the world called Blue Zones, where people live to be 100 years old, in good health and with low rates of dementia. A major study revealed that people in these zones have common traits which have nothing to do with genetics. Two big factors are close, multi-generational family ties and a strong sense of community. These findings confirm previous studies of what make us happy and healthy. We are social animals and thrive when we participate in groups.

One of the gifts we can give our children is a sense of community, more important now than at any other time in history. Modern conveniences and new technologies have made us more independent and isolated. The most connected world can be the loneliest.

I grew up in a neighborhood of Italian immigrants. Every evening, the neighbors got together — grandparents, parents, and children. I can still smell the coffee brewing in the glass percolator. Women gossiped and men played pinochle. Someone brought a coffee cake and we children flocked to our grandmothers to give us the sweets our mothers denied us.

The immigrants I grew up with have passed on and their children are scattered. No spontaneous coffee klatches, our calendars must be consulted and a convenient date found. The world has gotten too complicated, so it’s more important than ever to foster family and community experiences that give our children a sense of security and belonging.

Lucky for us there are dozens of good people in our towns who work hard to provide safe, positive experiences for all of us. I helped Rita Mauriello and friends at the funnel cake stand at the Parish of St. Barbara’s bazaar at St. Anthony’s Church. Although the heat was unbearable, I had a good time because I saw many old friends and enjoyed some wonderful food. But the nicest part of the bazaar was the community spirit, and it was multi-generational. I won’t reveal the ages of the funnel cake crew, but there wasn’t a spring chicken among us. Thank goodness Carmen Ciampi was nearby to help lift the oil can and carry the batter. I was happy to see WA Drama kids Katie Borosky, Abby Barhight, and Zipporah Fulmore volunteering at the food stand, dressed in their Mamma Mia shirts.

The bazaar was fun and raised needed funds for the church, but it also provided that sense of community to all who participated. The world can seem frightening, and it’s easy to give up hope for the future, but I never despair. There are many good people in the world. We just have to unplug and go out to meet them.

Children’s produce market

at the library

A children’s produce market will be held at the Wyoming Library on Saturday, Aug. 3. The Commission on Economic Opportunity will distribute canned goods, non-perishables, fruits, and vegetables to any Luzerne County family with children. After the children receive their food, what is left over is boxed for senior citizens to pick up later in the day. Registration is required and must be submitted by 10 a.m. Monday, July 29. Proof of income is not required. Applications are available at the library. Call 570-693-1364 for information.

Wyoming Recreation Board Movie Night in the Park

Wyoming Recreation Board will sponsor Movie Night in the Park on Friday, Aug. 2. Bring a blanket or lawn chair. Snack boxes will be provided with popcorn and a drink. To volunteer or make a donation, contact Roseanne at the borough building at 693-0291, ext. 5 or Jim at ext. 102.

Wyoming U.M. barbecue

Mark your calendars for the Wyoming United Methodist Church pork barbecue dinner from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17. You can eat in picnic style or takeout. Cost is $10 for adults and $5 for children 5 to 12. Tickets will be available at the door. For information, call Audrey 570-693-2821.

New Rotary president

The Rotary Club of Wyoming recently installed Robert Bresnahan as president for the 2019-20 term. He is CEO of Kuharchik Construction, Exeter.

Kiwanis Duck Derby

Time to purchase tickets for the Kiwanis Duck Derby, which will take place Sunday, Sept. 1. Prizes are $500, $300 and $200. Purchase tickets for $5 from any Wyoming Area Kiwanis member.

Library fundraiser

A fundraiser for the Wyoming Free Library is planned at Sabatini’s Bottle Shop, with Beer for Books from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 22.

Cost is $25 for three drinks and all-you-can-eat pizza. Music will be provided by Empire in Decline. There will be raffles and 50/50.

Tickets are on sale now and the library is asking for basket donations.

Wyoming Area Catholic news

Wyoming Area Catholic is accepting donations of books to commemorate special events such as the birth of a child, a special anniversary, birthday, special achievement or as a memorial for a deceased loved one. Contact school librarian Theresa Sabetta at 570-654-7982.

The school also is holding a uniform exchange during summer hours, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to noon on Fridays. The exchange ends Friday, Aug. 16.

For information, call the school at 570-654-7982.

The Summer Cougar Cash schedule continues through August. Gift cards/certificates for the following stores will be sold on a first come, first served basis: Gerrity’s Weis/Mr. Z’s, Price Chopper Pizza Perfect, Redner’s Wegmans, McDonald’s, Cold Case Beverage, Grotto Pizza, Superior Plus, Schiel’s, Perkins, Sabatini’s, Sapphire Salon, Quinn’s and Crest Cleaners.

Orders for other merchants available through the Cougar Cash program will be taken Wednesday morning and will be available for pickup the following Wednesday.

The Cougar Cash schedule is Wednesday mornings from 9 to 11 a.m. The summer Cougar Cash Schedule for August is as follows: Aug. 7, no new Cougar Cash orders; July 31. orders can be picked up; Aug. 14, all merchants; Aug. 21, no new Cougar Cash orders but Aug. 14 orders can be picked up; Monday, Aug. 26, is the first day of school and regular Cougar Cash orders will begin.

Trash payments

• The 2019 Wyoming garbage fee is in penalty phase. Please mail checks or money orders for $250 to Wyoming Borough Sanitation, 277 Wyoming Ave., Wyoming, PA 18644. Office hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. A secure payment box is located outside the entrance. Any questions, please call 570-693-0291.

• West Wyoming reminds residents sanitation fees are now past due and the penalty fee of $300 is in effect.

• Exeter refuse stickers for 2019 are in penalty phase and the price is $250. Stickers can be purchased at the Exeter Borough Building from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday or by mail by sending a self addressed, stamped envelope to Exeter Borough Refuse Department, 1101 Wyoming Ave., Exeter, PA 18643. Please use a long business size envelope. For information, call Lynda at 570-654-3001, ext. 2. All residents are reminded to rinse jars, bottles and cans for recycling. Greasy cardboard like pizza boxes cannot be recycled. Please only put out clean, flat cardboard.

Exeter trash

collection change

Exeter Borough is now using Waste Management for garbage collection

Garbage still has to be placed curbside by 6 a.m. Wednesday morning. Trash can be placed curbside Tuesday night.

Missed garbage may not be picked up until the following week, depending on the circumstances.

Extra bag tags are $3.25 each.

Bulk tags are $33 each. A list of acceptable bulk items suitable for collection is available at the Exeter Borough Building.

For information, call Lynda at 570-654-3001, ext. 2, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

State office hours

State Rep. Aaron Kaufer’s Exeter office, 1101 Wyoming Ave., is open from noon to 2 p.m. the third Friday of the month.

Barbara Bullions writes about Exeter, Wyoming and West Wyoming every week. To include an item in her column, email barbarabullions@gmai­l.com or call 570-301-2185 by Monday.