Participate in the Explorer's Give to Win raffle - deadline Dec. 12

Want to win a Kindle Fire before the holidays? What about a custom-made necklace, or a restaurant gift basket valued at $240? All you have to do is get into the giving spirit. The Explorer is collecting new unwrapped toys, new clothing and food donations through Dec. 12. Donate at the Explorer office and receive a raffle ticket. The winners will be announced in the Dec. 14 edition of the Explorer.

All donations will be taken to local charities for distribution.

Participants will receive one ticket per donation. A minimum of five cans of food is required for a ticket.

Donations can be brought to The Explorer office at 7225 N. Mona Lisa Rd. #125.

General public urged to send messages of support to service members, veterans

The Office of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has announced that for the third year, her Southern Arizona offices will collect holiday cards to be sent to members of the armed forces and veterans.

"We realize that this is a difficult time of year for our hospitalized veterans and our brave troops to be separated from their families," said Pia Carusone, chief of staff to Giffords. "We hope to collect a large number of holiday cards so these selfless men and women know they are in our thoughts and our good wishes are with them."

Schools across Southern Arizona, as well as individuals are invited to drop off holiday cards at Giffords' offices in Tucson.

The cards will then be sent to deployed troops and veterans.

A message of thanks should be written inside each card. Envelopes should be left unaddressed and unsealed, but envelopes are not necessary.

Members of the military who receive cards from school groups often like to respond. Cards from schools should have a school address and teacher's name on each card.

In past years, Giffords' offices have collected and sent thousands of cards to veterans at the Southern Arizona VA Medical Center, and to troops stationed overseas.

The cards should be brought to Giffords' Tucson office, 3945 E. Fort Lowell Road, Suite 211, at the northeast corner of East Fort Lowell Road and North Alvernon Way.

The deadline for dropping off the cards is Friday, Dec. 9 at 5 p.m.

PD volunteers, hosting free VIN etching event

Marana Police Department Volunteers in Police Services and State Farm Insurance Agent Kurt Larsen are offering a free Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) etching on Dec. 3 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Safeway Plaza on Silverbell Road.

Etching is a process that permanently marks a vehicle's 17-digit VIN on every piece of glass on the vehicle, and serves as a fingerprint to the car.

When a vehicle is stolen, the thief hides the identity by changing the VIN plate on the dashboard to avoid discovery by law enforcement. The thief may replace the plate, but if the original VIN is etched on the glass, the thief must replace all windows. This is costly and time consuming. As the thief contemplates stealing your car, he or she will notice the glass etching and may move on to an easier target vehicle.

VIN etching does not damage the vehicle's windows. It takes approximately 10 minutes for trained law enforcement personnel to etch a vehicle. The vehicle owner must be present and show proof of ownership through a driver's license, vehicle registration and insurance forms.

Free Harp Concert by U of A's HarpFusion

The University of Arizona's innovative harp ensemble is performing a free concert at Sanctuary United Methodist Church.

The HarpFusion ensemble is made up of student harpists under Dr. Carrol McLaughlin at the University of Arizona. All of the music performed by HarpFusion is written or arranged by a member of the group.

HarpFusion is named to represent the unique fusion of styles and cultures represented by its international members and the styles of music played by the ensemble. The performance will be held on December 10, at 7 p.m.

Hilton El Conquistador hosts tree lighting

On Dec. 4 the Hilton Tucson El Conquistador is hosting a tree lighting ceremony for guests and locals.

The event will be held in the resort lobby from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and is free to the public.

Guests will enjoy complimentary gingerbread cookies and cider while listening to carolers. As the highlight at 6 p.m., attendees will witness the lighting of the resort's 17-foot Christmas tree, delivered directly from Oregon.

Letters to Santa

One of the best parts of Christmas is reading letters from our little ones to Santa. This year, the Explorer will be printing some of those hand-written letters. Have your child write the letter, then send them our way to Thelma Grimes: Letters to Santa, at 7225 N. Mona Lisa Rd. #125, Tucson, AZ. 85741.

Call for questions

The Explorer will be starting the "Doctor is In" as part of the new "Ask the Experts" feature that will be running regularly, starting on Nov. 30. Anyone who has questions for a qualified physician from Northwest Medical Center can submit them to Please put medical questions in the subject line. Questions can range from general health and diet, to children's and adult medical care. If you have a medical question, do not be afraid to ask.


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