A Publication of WTVP

Give Green by Going Green
Ameren Illinois residential electricity customers can help their favorite nonprofit organizations earn extra dollars this winter by participating in the company’s Act On Energy program. Through January 31, 2011, Ameren will donate $10 to the nonprofit of a customer’s choice each time they recycle a spare refrigerator or freezer that was manufactured before 2011. In addition to the donation, Ameren will pay customers $35 for each appliance, for up to two units. Nonprofit organizations must be registered to participate, and can enroll in the program by calling (866) 838-6918, visiting, or emailing [email protected].

TIPS on Holiday Tipping
According to the December 2010 issue of Consumer Reports, “if you tip your barber, dog walker or garbage collector at year’s end, you’re in the minority,” based on a poll of nearly 1,900 Americans taken just after last year’s holiday season. But, if you’d like to continue to recognize those who serve you, here are some suggestions on who and how much to tip:

MAIL/PACKAGE CARRIER—USPS employees can’t accept cash or gifts valued over $20, so give a gift card. To reward your package carrier, a gift or cash in that range is a nice gesture.
NEWSPAPER CARRIER—cash equivalent of one month’s subscription
GARBAGE COLLECTOR—a cash gift or gift card in the amount of $20
CLEANING LADY—cash equivalent of one week’s pay
BABYSITTER—cash equivalent of one night’s pay, plus a personal gift from your child(ren)
NANNY—cash equivalent of one or two weeks’ pay, plus a personal gift from your child(ren)
HAIR STYLIST/MANICURIST—cash equivalent of the cost of one visit
DOG WALKER—cash equivalent of one week’s pay, or a gift such as a massage or spa treatment
PET GROOMER—cash equivalent of one session.

Help Yourself by Helping Others
It’s long been suspected—and recently proven—that volunteers not only better the communities they serve, but themselves as well. The Corporation for National and Community Service has released a study that shows a significant link between volunteerism and good health. This report, The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research, shows that volunteers benefit from greater longevity, higher functional ability, lower rates of depression and fewer incidents of heart disease, as well as greater life satisfaction.

Volunteering leads to feelings of self-worth and accomplishment, and the personal relationships made and maintained through volunteering on a consistent basis lower stress levels and the diseases that stress leads to. The study even shows that those with chronic or serious illnesses who volunteered “received benefits beyond what can be achieved through medical care.” To receive health benefits, however, volunteers must perform at least 100 hours of service each year, or about two hours each week.

So, if you’d like to feel better, you might look into volunteering. Nearly every nonprofit organization in the Peoria area offers volunteer opportunities, but if you’re just not sure where to start, contact the Central Illinois Volunteer Information Center (CIVIC) if you’re between the ages of 14 and 54, or the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) if you’re 55 years or older. Both can be reached by calling (309) 682-8521.

Peoria native Shelly Heiden is the regional CEO of the American Red Cross Heart of America Blood Services Region and has been with the Red Cross since 1986. “The Red Cross is an amazing place to work,” notes Heiden, “because we are supported by so many dedicated volunteers.” She also serves as president-elect of the Bradley University National Alumni Association, student guest chair of Downtown Rotary, and placement committee sustainer advisor for the Junior League of Peoria.

Wicked: I love the story and the way the play presents another side of the Wizard of Oz.

White Christmas: The costumes are fantastic. I saw this play in New York during December and it was magical.

Les Miserables: This is my all-time favorite play. The words are beautiful and so meaningful.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat: I loved this play mostly because it starred Donny Osmond.

School House Rock: I recently saw this at Corn Stock Theater. My niece was in it and it was darling—of course, all of her plays are my favorites! iBi