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Readers have two opportunities during the next week to create valentines for veterans thanks to the efforts of at least three local organizations. On Sunday, all are invited to visit Newtown Community Center between 1 and 2 o’clock. The community center will have all materials available for anyone who wants to write a note, make and decorate a card, or both. Then on Wednesday, February 8, Hearts of Hope-Newtown and American Legion Post 202 will be at the community center from 6 to 9 pm. For that program, the public is invited to paint palm-sized ceramic hearts with simple messages and/or images with positivity. The American Legion has kickstarted a fundraising effort to cover the cost of at least 150 Hearts of Hope, which will be earmarked for a US Air Force Aeromedical Evacuation Unit being deployed in the spring, so there is no cost for participants but donations will be gratefully accepted to further support HOH and the American Legion’s efforts. Reservations are requested for February 8; send an e-mail to ivy@ourheartsofhope.org to do so. Additional details for both events can be found in our Community Calendar, on page A-2 and online.

And for those looking to spend Valentine’s Day curled up with a book, the DEep dIve Book Discussion Group, based out of Newtown High School and open to NHS students and all community members, has scheduled a meeting for Thursday, February 23, at 6 pm, at Newtown High School in room B141, 12 Berkshire Road. The group will be discussing the book Horse by Geraldine Brooks. A description for the book reads in part, “Based on the remarkable true story of the record-breaking thoroughbred Lexington, Horse is a novel of art and science, love and obsession, and our unfinished reckoning with racism...” For more information about the DEep dIve Book Discussion Group see its website sites.google.com/newtown.k12.ct.us/nhs-dei-book-group/home.

There’s another local way to celebrate Valentine’s Day: Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary (CVHAS) announced its Magic Monarchs fundraising program as the perfect way to honor a loved one for Valentine’s Day. “This year,” an announcement reads, “celebrate the people you love by making them honorary Magic Monarchs, the perfect symbol of enduring beauty and goodness. Magic Monarchs are $100 and directly help homeless animals find their forever homes through Catherine’s Butterfly Party, the sanctuary’s largest pet adoption event of the year. In return, they’ll receive a stunning artisan card acknowledging your gift and have their name beautifully displayed for all to see at Catherine’s Butterfly Party on June 10.” Learn more about the Magic Monarch fundraiser online at cvhfoundation.org. I’m not ready to fly into summer just yet, but I am always ready to help homeless animals find their forever homes; after all, The Newtown Bee has been my home for years. (Read “years” as many “lives.”)

A number of Newtowners are currently, and have previously been, part of Housatonic Habitat for Humanity renovation and building projects, so, obviously, I took note of this piece of news: Housatonic Habitat for Humanity is partnering with Ability Beyond to combine resources to benefit Danbury community members. Housatonic Habitat for Humanity will be helping to renovate one of Ability Beyond’s group homes in Danbury with the help of their construction volunteers. It will be working together with the fellow non-profit to bring clients the welcoming shelter they deserve. Ability Beyond is a local non-profit that serves thousands of people with developmental disabilities, are on the autism spectrum, have mental illness, and often have accompanying physical challenges. Some clients live either temporarily or permanently in housing provided by the organization. Ability Beyond’s group home in Danbury needed some updates and renovations, and they turned to Housatonic Habitat for Humanity, with their team of construction volunteers, for help. Work on the project is expected to continue until April.

C.H. Booth Library announced another upcoming virtual author talk for Thursday, February 9. The library promises it will be a “magical evening with The New York Times bestselling author Lana Harper as she discusses the enchanting third installment of her immensely popular The Witches of Thistle Grove series, Back in a Spell.” See the library’s events webpage, ibraryc.org/chboothlibrary/upcoming, to register for this or other upcoming virtual author talks.

I’m already wearing my tuxedo, so I feel appropriately attired to announce this next news. Julie Allen Bridals was recently announced as winning in both The Knot’s Best of Weddings 2023, in the “bridal salons” category, and in WeddingWire’s 2023 Couples’ Choice awards. I can fully understand why. The local bridal salon can be described as “making brides look and feel beautiful since 1970.” According to an announcement for The Knot’s Best of Weddings 2023 award, it represents the ratings of reviews from real couples, their families, and their guests. I can’t wish this family-owned business a big enough congratulations. This cat is clapping with all four of my paws for you, Julie Allen Bridals. Job well done!

For the Every Day Is Earth Day file: Newtown Public Works can help residents who want to do some roadside litter cleanup (and yes, this cat is well aware that we shouldn’t have to pick up after others, but I’m being realistic here). Vests, bags, gloves, and even trash grabbers are all available from the Town department. Contact Arlene Miles at 203-270-4300 or Arlene.Miles@newtown-ct.gov to arrange for those supplies. When you’ve finished collecting, full bags are returned to the Public Works department, along with any unused supplies, and you’ll go home feeling better about helping our planet.

Moviegoers have two opportunities this month to enjoy a free screening at Edmond Town Hall. Ingersoll Auto of Newtown, who has been offering at least one free weekend each month since January 2013, will again sponsor the special events. First up is I Wanna Dance With Somebody, the Whitney Houston biopic released in December and starring Naomi Ackie in the lead. Screenings are planned for Friday through Sunday, February 3-5, at 1 and 7 pm each day. The film is rated PG-13 and has a running time of 2 hours, 26 minutes. The second free movie weekend this month will be February 10-12, when the town hall hosts screenings of Avatar: The Way of Water. That film is also rated PG-13, and runs 3 hours, 12 minutes. Screenings of that film will also be at 1 and 7 each day. Reservations are open for both movies; visit edmondtownhall.org.

Our Sports Editor Andy Hutchison tells me that former Newtown High School athlete Casey (Frobey) Engel was selected to the Connecticut Girls Soccer Coaches Association Hall of Fame, Newtown Youth Wrestling had quite a showing on the mats and won the Western Connecticut League championship, and Newtown High School is welcoming a new lacrosse coach as Anthony Fitti steps into the position. Read about all of this and more in this week’s Sports section.

Friday Night Bingo returns next weekend. All ages are invited to enjoy Bingo fun and cash prizes, raffle giveaways and concessions, when this month’s event takes place at St Rose School on Friday, February 10. Doors open at 5:45 pm, game sales begin at 6, and games then run from 6:30 to 9:30 pm in the Monsignor Weiss Gathering Hall. Admission is $20 per person, which covers all regular games.

You should know by now what else will return next week — this cat. As long as you promise to... Read me again.

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