A Kettle at a Time

The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle program runs every year through November and December as a way to collect donations for people in need.

For over 100 years, the Red Kettle program has been a key contributor for raising money to help people in need with necessities such as food, shelter and social services. It is The Salvation Army’s most notable program, and you can listen for the ringing bells to know you’re near a Red Kettle.

The Salvation Army recently started the Online Red Kettle Campaign, which runs year-round and is focused on larger donations from individuals.

Roughly 41 percent of residents in Detroit are at or below the poverty line, but poverty-stricken Detroit residents are not the only ones who need help or get help. The Red Kettle program that corresponds with Eastern Michigan is intended to help all our neighbors, all our friends. Every citizen matters, and that’s why The Salvation Army helps everyone.

The Salvation Army isn’t trying to feed or shelter a person in need for just one night. The Salvation Army is looking more so to educate people in need by teaching them strategies and life lessons that, in turn, lead them to never have to depend on a donation again.

The Salvation Army is an evangelic organization based on the Christian Church. But don’t think you have to be Christian, or religious, to make a difference. The Salvation Army’s goal is to reach human needs without discrimination. Being helped, also, does not mean you have to sign a piece of paper claiming you’re a Christian.

There’s no set standard on how much to donate to the Red Kettle program. If all you have to spare is a quarter, that’s perfect. Just think, if you and some of your friends pitch in the loose change from your cars, you’re providing a meal for a person.

Companies such as Bass Pro Shop, Sam’s Club, Walmart, Kroger and Big Lots have helped in the cause. Obviously, people are around these types of companies more during the holiday season. Allowing volunteers to raise donations on their grounds has been huge for The Salvation Army. Walmart locations alone collected over $33 million nationally from the Red Kettle program in one year.

Somebody out there needs your help, our help. Donating to the Red Kettle is not going to end this monstrous epidemic called poverty. But it may save a life, and that seems worth it to me.

For more information on donating, volunteering, getting help or starting your own Red Kettle, visit The Salvation Army’s website.


Senior Dogs: Like Fine Wine

Too many dogs currently sit in animal shelters that desperately need love. Most people want a puppy to raise, but a senior dog might be the choice for you.

Puppies are cute. Don’t get me wrong. But dogs with age have something special about them. Something that’s different. Like a fine wine, senior dogs are ripe with tangibles puppies can’t even sniff their noses at.


That old dog is in an animal shelter for a reason.

Well of coarse there’s a reason. But do you really know the reason?

Senior dogs in shelters are often looked over because of the perception people have of them. But like mama said, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Dogs are given up for numerous reasons. Sure some dogs are never able to cope with humans, but we have to look deeper. Sometimes there’s a tragedy with the owner, a financial issue with the owner, or a change of residence with the owner that causes dogs to be given up to animal shelters.

Let’s face it, not all dog owners are perfect themselves.

Senior dogs are also disregarded due to their age. I hate to keep throwing clichés out there, but age is just a number.

When’s the last time you thought back to a special memory that occurred over a five year span? Some of the greatest moments in life are minutes, or even seconds, long. It may be tough knowing that your newly adopted dog only has a few years left in him or her, but sharing moments with your dog will make you forget the timeframe he or she may have.

You can’t teach an old dog… I have to stop with the clichés. Dogs are able to be trained at any age. A lot of senior dogs have a better attention span than puppies, so being trained is actually quite easy for senior dogs.


So what are those tangibles that make senior dogs the right choice for you?

A lot of senior dogs are already potty trained, matured, and fully grown.

Potty training is a tedious activity. Most senior dogs have already gone through that tedious activity, though. If a senior dog has trouble at first in his or her new home, a little refresher course may be all that’s needed.

Maturity is a great element as well. Senior dogs are past that rambunctious stage puppies go through. Senior dogs usually are just looking for a nice home to relax. Puppies need constant surveillance and certain safety precautions around the home, too. A lot of senior dogs will be fine on their own from the time you adopt them.

Some homes and apartments have certain limitations to the size and weight of the dogs living there. You won’t have to worry about your senior dog growing another foot or gaining another 50 pounds. Your senior dog is pretty much set, aside from a weight gain here or a weight loss there.

Animal shelters take in so many animals, because most animal shelters actually care, that over population occurs. Typically, senior dogs are high on the list of animals to be euthanized. Adopting a senior dog can literally save a life.

So if you’re looking for a new companion, give a senior dog a chance. And if you want a puppy so bad, why not give that puppy an older brother or sister to show your puppy the ropes?

AL East Breakdown

The AL East is owned by the Yankees and Red Sox, but a new team is starting to take over. Here are my predictions for the upcoming season starting with last place.

5. Tampa Bay Rays

It’s a shame the Rays play at Tropicana Field. This was one of baseball’s nicest stories: no money, no problem. The Rays would win with home-grown prospects and low-paid journeymen. They were coached by one of the most interesting people in the game, Joe Maddon, who makes every play in every game matter.

The underdog Rays made it all the way to the World Series in 2008. But it turns out money is an issue. Nobody comes to the games. The Rays weren’t able to retain guys such as Carl Crawford and David Price. Tropicana Field is a black hole to the community.

The Rays are back to rebuilding because of it. Kevin Cash is the manager, and trades may be in the near future. It would be shocking to see Evan Longoria go, but players like Alex Cobb and Desmond Jennings may be on the move to re-establish the farm system. To make matters worse for the Rays, Matt Moore is out until at least June.

4. Toronto Blue Jays

The Jays bring a lot of pop to the ballpark. They finished above .500 last year and could hit their way there again.

The pitching is vulnerable, though. Mark Buehrle will be solid. R.A. Dickey, too. Dickey is a different type of knuckleball pitcher. His speed and control is unlike knuckleball pitchers before him. But there is nobody on the team after those two with any accountability. The bullpen will be a nightmare. The Jays don’t have a pitcher on their staff who had more than five saves last season.

Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson in the middle of the order will be fun to watch. I just don’t think there’s enough around those three guys to get to the playoffs.

3. New York Yankees

The Yankees get the slight edge over the Jays. The Yankees are able to bring a little more pitching to the table. They project to have a solid 1-2-3 in Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda. These three, however, are all going to be monitored due to injuries last season. Dellin Betances was nearly untouchable last season and is poised to be the closer.

Joe Girardi is going to have his hands full this year with Alex Rodriguez back. It seems as though A-Rod was humbled by his suspension. I almost find myself rooting for the guy: almost. But he can’t hit anymore. Any pitcher who comes inside on A-Rod will make him look silly. And this will be a problem for the Yankees. With no more Derek Jeter to cool down the media, A-Rod will be Lightning-Rod.

2. Boston Red Sox

The Sox may have had the best offseason in baseball. Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez add much needed depth to the lineup. Along with David Ortiz, Sandoval has been one of the most clutch players in the postseason.

The Sox don’t have to depend on their young players nearly as much now. Xander Bogaerts can be moved back down in the lineup where he excelled in the 2013 postseason. Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo won’t have pressure on them to succeed right away.

The Sox pitching lacks an ace, though. Clay Buchholz has the stuff if he can stay healthy. Rick Porcello had a breakout year last year but isn’t known as a shutdown pitcher. He posted 129 strikeouts in 204 innings. He’s a groundball pitcher, but pitching to contact is risky in Fenway Park. The Sox are one of my wildcard teams this season due to their lineup.

1. Baltimore Orioles

The O’s are the defending AL East Champions. Adam Jones is my pick for the AL MVP this season. The O’s have the deepest pitching in the AL East from starters to relievers. The group led the AL East in team ERA with a 3.43 last season.

Manny Machado and Matt Wieters missed most of the season last year with injuries. Chris Davis will be back from suspension. All three were All-Stars in 2013. The O’s bring the best defense to the table as well, led by Jones and J.J. Hardy. Jones has four Gold Gloves and Hardy has three. The O’s may be World Series bound with the talent they have.

The Orioles are the new beast of the east and teams better take notice.

Don’t Forget the Cigars

The signing of Yoan Moncada by the Boston Red Sox in late February continues the trend of Cubans coming to Major League Baseball.

There’s one major difference, though: The Cuban government allowed Moncada to leave the island, knowing that Moncada would go to the United States.

This was another step in rebuilding the relationship between the two countries.

Moncada being able to leave Cuba is not quite as impactful as the release of a prisoner or some spies, but baseball fans should rejoice.

Much like the U.S., Cuba’s national pastime is baseball. With an eased relationship between the two countries, expect more Cubans to fill out major league rosters.

Baseball in Cuba remains at an amateur status. High-level baseball players in Cuba are not paid what they could be paid in the U.S.

Stories like that of Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez and Yasiel Puig may have made any player from Cuba scared to leave the country. But now, if relations continue to heal, Cuban players can pursue their dream to play in the MLB without having to risk they’re lives or feel like they’re abandoning Cuba.

In 2014, the Dominican Republic led the MLB in players born outside the US, followed by Venezuela in second and Cuba in third. Each team in the MLB has an academy based in the Dominican Republic to help with possible major league prospects.

Nineteen Cuban-born players made opening day rosters in 2014. Five were selected to the 2014 All-Star Game, including the two-time Homerun Derby champion Yoenis Cespedes.

Cubans have brought home rookie of the year honors the past two years: Jose Fernandez in 2013 and Jose Abreu in 2014.

Don’t be surprised if it turns into a three-year streak for Cuban players. Jorge Soler and Rusney Castillo are two rookies to watch this year. Both players showed great potential in a short period of time at the big league level.

The deal between Moncada and the Red Sox is worth $31.5 million, by far the largest contract for an international amateur. The previous record breaking contract for an international amateur was given to fellow Cuban Yoan Lopez in January by the Arizona Diamondbacks totaling $8.27 million.

It won’t be long until we see a Cuban ballplayer hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy, spraying champagne and chomping on a celebratory……….. oh boy, I forgot.