Help ‘Tots’ to soar

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SANDPOINT — For the last 40 years, Alfred Larson has been on a mission.

Back in 1978, Al was looking for something to do to keep his busy during his retirement and happened upon an article in National Geographic after crafting wooden nest for bluebirds. The nests, the article noted, helped save them from decline. Al knew he’d found his hobby and got to work building nest boxes on his ranch in southern Idaho.

Most folks might built a nest here or there or now and again. And be well content with their efforts. Not Al — Al, well, he had a something a little bigger in mind.

A recent article on notes that in the 40 years since Al — now 96 years young — took up the challenge, he’s built and is monitoring almost 350 nest boxes on six different bluebird trails across southwestern Idaho.

“I got carried away,” Larson told Audubon, the website reported. “I settled on a simple design that (was) easy to build and easy to monitor. I kept adding more boxes on these trails, and these birds responded.”

This year Al has banded over 900 birds.

Now, Al’s work has been catpured in a half-hour documentary, “Bluebird Man” by filmmaker Matthew Podolsky, who was introduced to Larson through staff at Boise State University.

“Al is a living example of how much one person can achieve when they set their mind on a task. But he’s also an example of the benefits that a project like this can have for people,” the website reports Podolsky as saying. “Bluebirds have given meaning to Al’s life, and they are truly the secret to his longevity.”

One man, one idea, but a tremendous impact in the world.

We can all have that impact by donating to Toys For Tots today. Each dollar is wisely spent by the Sandpoint Lions to ensure local youngsters have a merry Christmas. Just think of how that joy will ripple into the future in the years that come.

So far, generous donations of $6,650.89 have been received from the community.

The goal for this year’s Toys for Tots campaign is $50,000 — the same as it has been in past years. The Lions make the most of the money by shopping bargains, and with the assistance of generous local businesses. The Toys for Tots program provides free new toys for children living in the Lake Pend Oreille School District, from Sandpoint to Clark Fork and all points in-between. A Christmas dinner for the family is also provided.

If you know someone, or need help yourself, the Lions are taking applications for the 2018 Toys for Tots program. Members are at the Lions Den, 607 S. Ella Street in Sandpoint, on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays, until Monday, Dec. 17 Applications are also available at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare office, 207 Larkspur St., Ponderay.

Donations for Toys for Tots can be dropped off at the front desk at the Bonner County Daily Bee, 310 Church St., from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. You can also drop off donations at Columbia Bank’s main branch in Sandpoint, 414 Church St., or at the Ponderay branch, 300 Bonner Mall Way.

Donations may be mailed to the Sandpoint Lions Club, Box 414, Sandpoint, ID 83864.

Donations made by check are preferred. Be sure to include a note with your check indicating that it is a Toys for Tots donation. If you wish to make an anonymous donation, please include a note.

If the donation is being made in someone’s name, be sure to also include a note.

Information: Sandpoint Lions Club, 208-263-4118

Caroline Lobsinger can be reached by email at and follow her on Twitter @CarolDailyBee.

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