Take Time To Thank Veterans On Friday

Pine resident, Richard Hafford (center), got a surprise at Sky Harbor Airport when sister Marie Nicoll (holding portrait) returned portrait from 1969 and had Marines on hand to welcome him home - 41 years after serving in combat in Vietnam. It’s never too late to thank a veteran for their service to our country.

Photo by Joy Hafford. |

Pine resident, Richard Hafford (center), got a surprise at Sky Harbor Airport when sister Marie Nicoll (holding portrait) returned portrait from 1969 and had Marines on hand to welcome him home - 41 years after serving in combat in Vietnam. It’s never too late to thank a veteran for their service to our country.


On this day set aside to honor veterans, I thank the veterans who live in Pine and Strawberry, and all veterans who served the U.S., for the sacrifices you made and the freedoms you upheld. Happy Veterans Day.

Next Friday, Nov. 18, the Pine Strawberry School will honor veterans with a student-led Awards/Veterans Assembly and Flag Ceremony at 8:15 a.m. in the school gym at 3868 N Pine Creek Dr.

All veterans and the community are invited. Let’s support our great students and veterans.

Returning soldiers put their life on the line for us, but regretfully, not all were welcomed home with parades and open arms.

One Pine resident learned it’s never too late to receive the thanks of your country when he received an honorable “Welcome Home” on Sept 25, 2011 at Sky Harbor Airport — 41 years after serving the country in Vietnam.

Richard Hafford served with distinction during two tours of duty as a combat Marine with the first battalion, ninth Marines division, more commonly known as 1/9 “The Walking Dead.”

He wore the Marine uniform with pride, and at age 19 had his portrait painted in it, which he sent home. He never saw it again until this September when his sister returned it, having located it in the attic when the family’s New York home was sold.

Concerned that her brother was not welcomed home in a manner deserving of a veteran, she contacted Arizona veteran groups with her story. A call went out to current and former Arizona Marines to give a veteran a welcome home that was long overdue.

When Richard arrived at the airport to pick up his sister, he was surprised by the group who came to give a “Brother Marine” the welcome home he never received, thank him for his service, and show their affection and support with signs saying “Welcome Home,” “Semper Fi” and “Oohrah!”

It’s never too late to thank a veteran for their service in protecting our freedoms. We need to let every veteran know that we are there for them, as they were for us.

Food bank

Statistics show about one-third of America’s homeless population are veterans. Many veteran and non-veteran families are struggling. Many proud families don’t want charity but have fallen on hard times beyond their control.

Snow has arrived, but for those struggling without adequate heat or housing, the cold weather is harsh.

Now more than ever, the local food bank needs our help. In just 18 months the Pine Strawberry Food Bank has gone from serving 37 to 100 families, including some in our campgrounds, as the colder weather and holidays are approaching.

The food bank is spending more than is coming in and is solely dependent on the generosity of the community for food and monetary donations.

They distribute food the first Tuesday of the month at 1:30 p.m. in the Pine Community Cultural Hall.

They are staffed entirely by volunteers and more are needed to help distribute food, including some to lift heavy boxes.

When visiting the market, consider what a can of yams and a bag of marshmallows would mean to a struggling family this Thanksgiving. Imagine the joy of a child getting a box of Cracker Jacks with a toy in it, or a package of gummy fruit snacks.

The first Food Bank Turkey Drive is now taking place through Dec. 15. Cindy, from Ponderosa Market, has generously provided a designated freezer where frozen turkeys may be dropped off.

Sharon Balentine, president of Pine Strawberry Food Bank, has a motto: “The more we give, the more we get.” Let’s fill the freezer and donation bins to overflowing, and experience the true meaning of the holidays. Food boxes are located at the Ponderosa Market, Post Office and Library.

To volunteer or give a tax deductible donation, contact Marti Heinert at (928) 476-6469, or send mail to Pine Strawberry Food Bank, P.O. Box 1534, Pine, AZ 85544.

Free Thanksgiving dinner

The Thrift Store will provide a free community Thanksgiving dinner at 2 p.m. Thanksgiving Day in the Bruce Thompson Memorial Dining Hall, behind the Thrift Store. Home delivery is also available. For a delivered meal, to volunteer or to RSVP, call 476-2151 or 476-4633.


The creator of Tellabration, J.G. Pinkerton, said “Through story telling, we can draw closer together in peace, and in friendship, and in love.”

Pinkerton’s idea was to have a night each year when story tellers in every community would get together and tell stories to their family and friends. Started in Connecticut in 1988, Tellabration quickly spread across Connecticut, the U.S., Japan, and today is held on every continent but Antarctica. (Anyone know any good penguin story tellers?) Traditionally it is held the Saturday night before Thanksgiving.

On Saturday, Nov. 19, you can experience a great evening of family fun and entertainment when Tellebration comes to the Pine Community Cultural Hall. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show begins at 7 p.m. Admission is just $5 (age 10 and under are free).

You can also have dinner (with the story tellers) and see the show for $25. For tickets, call (928) 476-6427.

Great Christmas shopping

Tomorrow, Nov. 12, is Second Saturday Shop Hop. Take advantage of the great sales and specials that local shops offer on the second Saturday of the month. The Thrift Store in Pine will have 50 percent off their already low prices on all clothing, except coats.

Find unique gifts and holiday décor, hand-crafted by local artists and crafters, at the Pine-Strawberry Arts and Crafts Guild annual Christmas Boutique at the Pine Community Center. Doors open at 10 a.m. every weekend in November.

Pack up your Christmas shopping list and camera and come to beautiful Pine and Strawberry for a memorable weekend. Thank a veteran for your freedom to enjoy America the Beautiful’s Rim Country!

Contact me with Strawberry and Pine happenings at e-mail haffordjoy1@gmail.

com or call me at (602) 790-0248.


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