Morning Buzz: 5 things to know for December 18

1. Every child should enjoy the magic of Christmas, that's why the urban Family Ministries on the Southeast side of Grand Rapids will give away free toys and a meal for everyone today.

It's going on from 4 to 6 p.m. with door prizes and pictures with Santa.

Last year, they gave away more than 640 presents and 1,600 meals.

 

2. They came out of the cold and into Guiding Light Mission in Grand Rapids where they were greeted with the smell of a warm, holiday meal.

Volunteers came together over the weekend to serve delicious dished to the homeless.

Guiding Light Mission serves up this wonderful feast annually. More than 300 people come out for the event every year.

In addition to serving good, volunteers also gave away winter hats for free.

The mission also holds a community dinner like this around Thanksgiving.

 

3. Thousands of wreaths now lie on each and every grave at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans Cemetery, all thanks to local organizations taking part in a national event called Wreaths Across America.

Local organizations include the WEst Michigan Blue Star Mothers, worked hard over the last few months, collecting donations to buy the nearly 6,000 wreaths for the annual event.

On Saturday, dozens of families and volunteers, along with Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, placed those wreaths on veterans' graves.

Organizers say this was the second largest display of wreaths in the country. The largest Wreaths Across America even takes place at Arlington National Cemetery. This year, 245,000 wreaths were placed there.

 

4. The author of the popular book, "Jumanji," was back home in West Michigan, ahead of the premiere for the sequel of the movie adaptation.

Chris Van Allsburg was in Grand Rapids on Saturday, signing books at Schuler's.

He wrote and illustrated the 1981 classic, which was turned into a movie that starred Robin Williams. On Tuesday, the sequel starring Dwayne Johnson, will premiere in Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor.

Van Allsburg and his wife, Lisa, will be guests of honor at the Grand Rapids event. The ticket money from those events will go towards hospice of Michigan.

Van Allsburg also wrote the Christmas favorite, "The Polar Express" and re-designed the classic ballet "The Nutcracker" for the Grand Rapids Ballet.

 

5. The white sand is replaced with white snow, and some seasonal Grand Haven businesses are closed for the season. However one very popular food stand, Pronto Pups, isn't going to make fans wait until summer for the tasty treat.

The popular corn dog stand will be open from January 19 through 21, and start business at 11 a.m. each day. All the proceeds will go to charity, but remember they only accept cash.

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