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Thumbs Up! - July 18, 2011

Last December, Stardust Skate Center held a food drive to help feed needy families over the holiday season. The event attracted 138 skaters and the collection of food items weighed in at 900 pounds. The food drive was held at the suggestion of Antron Patton from River Road Church of Christ. Stardust owner Cheryl Watts willingly took on the project.The duo paired up again to hold a second drive Thursday, realizing that there are people, many of which are children, right here in Albany going to bed hungry ... and not just during a holiday season. The food will be donated to and distributed by Second Harvest Food Bank. At the time of this writing, the amount collected was unavailable but with Watts and Patton behind the drive, it was certain to have been successful.

There is still time to register for the upcoming SuperKidz Triathlon to be held at the YMCA on Gillionville Road on Saturday. Kids will compete with others in their age group in swimming, biking and running. The groups will include Munchkins (ages 4-6), Juniors (ages 7-10), Seniors (ages 11-14) and the Varsity group will feature participants ages 15-17. All activities are set for skill levels appropriate for the ages of the kids. Call the YMCA at (229) 436-0531 for more details about this fun way to get kids involved in a physical fitness program.

Each year eighth-grade students at Lee County Middle School participate in a project known as "8th Grade Gives Back." The students collect loose change and vote on how it will be spent. The 2011 class, which will soon hit the books as high school freshmen, had no difficulty selecting a beneficiary. The young people, along with LCMS Student Government Association, unanimously voted to allocate the collected funds to a middle school in tornado-ravaged Tuscaloosa, Ala. A check for $500 has been sent to the Tuscaloosa City School System. Great job!

If you are still hoping to get in a little summer fun with the kids, Albany Recreation and Parks has just the thing. Get a current fishing license and up to three poles per fisher and head out to Ken Gardens Pond for free fishing rodeos. The dates are July 28, Aug. 13 and 23, and Sept. 8. Times are 8 a.m.-11 a.m., except for Aug. 13, which is 7 a.m.-10 a.m. The pond is stocked with channel catfish.

Mama Gina's Italian Restaurant was a fixture for many years in Albany and has been missed since its recent closing, but not for much longer. Vinny Mannino, the force behind Mama Gina's, is helping his children open The Pizza Shop in downtown Albany. Fran Bragg and her brother, Jack Mannino plan to offer many of the same foods as the other restaurant and all of the food will be based on Mannino family recipes. This is great news for the promoters of and believers in downtown, for folks that work downtown and for longtime fans of the Mannino family cuisine. Welcome back!

A call came into The Albany Herald Tuesday morning from a visitor to Albany. Apparently her vehicle had broken down while in the city on Monday and a not-so-honest "mechanic" said he could fix the problem. What initially was believed to be one problem seemed to escalate to another as the man "worked" on her vehicle. Realizing that he likely could not get her vehicle running, the owner had the man stop his work. She then he met a person of a totally different character. He worked on her vehicle until the wee hours of the morning and, by the time she called the newspaper, the traveler was back in her hotel in Tifton. This caller did not dwell on the first mechanic, but could not say enough about the second. It is great to know there are people willing to go the extra mile to help a stranger and that that person wanted to share her appreciation with the newspaper. Thumbs Up!