December 31, 2009

Welcome to 2010

In the new year, I hope that you have 12 months of happiness, 52 weeks of fun, 365 days of success, 8,760 hours of good health, 525,600 minutes of love, and 31,536,000 seconds of joy.  May you always dance with all of your heart. Cheers!

Inspired by Donna C. Drury of Lawrenceburg, KY.  Thank you. 

Make your club approachable

The Optimist Club of Monaco South in Denver, Colorado sent me a link to another well-done club newsletter.  Take a look at GUMS

What do I like about it?
  1. It is easy to read.  I like short bursts of information and this one tells plenty about upcoming events and includes short quips of what has happened that people want to know about like how much money was raised and did the club meet their goals. 
  2. It makes you smile.  Whether it is the humorous story, the trivial facts or the smiling faces in the photos, I was happy when I finished reading it.
  3. It is respectful.  With a nod to the club's past presidents, Optimist International's theme and the Optimist Creed, you know this club has a proud heritage.   
  4. It is informative.  The newsletter has a calendar of coming events and a well-written article about an important issue in the community. 
However, what I like most about this newsletter is that it is clear that this club is approachable.  According to the very first paragraph there are greeters at the door welcoming members and guests.  Later on in the newsletter it reminds members to invite friends and potential new members to the meetings.  And by always including where the club meets, it ensures that guests reading online or that have been given the newsletter are able to come to a meeting too.  

I believe that approachability is the key to helping our Optimist Clubs grow and provide more service in our communities.  Make a New Year's resolution for your Optimist Club now.  Resolve to be open and inviting; resolve to be approachable.

December 30, 2009

Richard Paul belongs to an Optimist Club

What does an Optimist Club newsletter look like?   There are at least 3,000 different answers to that question; that is as many answers as there are clubs.  I believe, however, they most often they serve as a bulletin and offer a quick look at what is happening and how to get involved with a nod to what's happened in the past. For clubs that publish weekly, their newsletter or bulletin serve for recording minutes and announcing the next meeting agenda. 

With the advent of desktop publishing software, some publications have become very professional.  I recently came across one that caught my attention, not only for the design, but also for its content.  The Optimist Club of Central Macomb, Michigan publishes a monthly newsletter that looks good, reads well and contains relevant information to help their club succeed. 

Tucked inside the Central Macomb Optimist Club newsletter is also a member feature insert.  It was this feature article, posted on a member's website, that brought me to their newsletter.  The highlight member of the month for December 2009 was Richard Paul, a motivational speaker who says we need to lighten up and use laughter to reduce stress.  I think he's a good fit with the Optimist Club mission. 

If you are sitting there thinking what a shameless self-promotion, please think again.  These connections are what make our Optimist Clubs grow.  Connecting with others who share our passion and care enough about their relationship with your club to promote it in an appropriate manner will help us spread our mission, add fans to our cause and recruit members for our club.  Don't just think about it; in 2010, please be sure to promote your members by adding a member feature article to your Optimist Club newsletter.

December 29, 2009

How one Optimist Club attracts sponsors

Your business can sponsor Optimist Club activities.  By being a sponsor, your business will gain exposure and allow the Optimist Club to bring a needed service, product, or event to your community.

The Optimist Club of Lakeside, California is currently seeking sponsors for their 2010 Bulls Only Rodeo.  Take a look at their sponsor prospectus. Please give them a call if your business might benefit from being associated with this project. 

If you are another Optimist Club looking for ideas, the prospectus is an example* of one way to gain corporate sponsorship for your events.  Use your imagination and knowledge of your community to make it work for you.  Good luck! 

*This Optimist Club claims they are a 501c3 organization.  Optimist Clubs are automatically organized as 501c4 organizations under the IRS code.  Please check with Optimist International to be certain your club has completed the extra steps for becoming a 501c3 if you need that status to accept charitable donations.  Events like a rodeo would most likely attract sponsors that are advertisers and as such would not need or request the charitable deduction. 

December 28, 2009

Everybody can play

This is a project that can bring the entire community together.  Spearheaded by the Optimist Club and Kiwanis Club in Huntsville, Alabama, the "Everybody can play playground" is under now construction. 

Find out all about the project at

December 27, 2009

What is an Optimist volunteer?

The Uptown Optimist Club of Great Falls has designated a page on their website to define who an Optimist is and what an Optimist does. Take a look at the site here. Or scroll down for their take on what it means to be an Optimist Club member in Great Falls, Montana.

An Optimist is...

a volunteer joining a group of civic-minded men and women banded together in the modern tradition for progressive thought and action in community service. Community service is their byword, objective and creed, recognizing that they must contribute something to the life of the community from which they and their families draw daily benefits. There is no greater opportunity for personal participation in community affairs and service than that to be found in an Optimist Organization. Each organization assures a position of strength and prestige through its affiliation with Optimist International, a federation of groups of like-minded Optimists throughout Canada, the United States and the World.

An Optimist does…

whatever needs doing in the community. If a need exists or if something will help the community, Optimists usually do something about it. Optimists joining together perform a wide variety of services to the Youth of their communities, thus our motto “Friend of Youth.”

An Optimist Volunteer is…

One, who develops Optimism as a philosophy of life, One, who promotes an active interest in good government and civic affairs, One, who inspires respect for law, One, who promotes patriotism and works for the good of International accord and friendship among all peoples, One, who aids and encourages the development of our Youth, in the belief that the giving of oneself is the service to others, will enhance the well being of humankind, community life and the world.

Does this describe you? Then I hope that you choose to join us.  Make Optimism a part of your life by joining an Optimist Club near you.

December 26, 2009

Optimist Clubs make a difference through the Childhood Cancer Campaign

Christmas is over.  That means back to other business for our 3,000 Optimist Clubs around the world.  One of the projects that many will be involved in is the Childhood Cancer Campaign. Through the campaign, $1M has been donated to research at John Hopkins University to eliminate childhood cancers; and throughout the country, other sums have been donated to local programs, hospitals and families. 

Like all Optimist Club programs, the Childhood Cancer Campaign is directed by the club. Club members decide how money will be raised, where it will be designated in their community, and how they will interact with the families.

In January, Makenna Sivumaki of Great Falls, Montana will celebrate two years of being cancer-free.  The Uptown Optimist Club of Great Falls was there to help her and her family through treatment.  Optimist Clubs are making a difference every day through small gifts to real people and big contributions to large causes.  You can help Optimist Clubs make a difference too by joining an Optimist Club today.

December 24, 2009

Share your joy every day of the year

There is no doubt that Christmas has become a commercial event, but Christmas is not alone in the holidays that have received the overt attention of marketing professionals and sales gurus. 

That's why it is up to us - you and me and all Optimist Club members and optimists at large - to make certain the magic of every holiday is celebrated with compassion, understanding and love. 

I send best wishes to all.  Whether you recognize Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, or a celebration with another name, my wish for you is the same; may you always experience optimism around you and share your joy with others.  Please do it today and every day.  Thank you.

December 23, 2009

Christmas Chinese luncheon

True or false: if you are going out to eat on Christmas Day you have to go to a Chinese restaurant.

The notion popularized byThe Christmas Story is probably more true than false. That's why this link in particular caught my eye "Support the Optimist Club of Mona Christmas Chinese Luncheon."   I clicked on the link and discovered that an Optimist Club was holding a fundraiser before Christmas with a Chinese luncheon delivery. 

What a great idea!  Chinese take-out, delivered straight to you during your busiest season.  It's a way for your Optimist Club to provide a service, make money for your club's youth projects and have a little fun with Christmas customs and beliefs.

Students change their lives with The Options Program

The Optimist Club of Gresham, Oregon sponsors a student of the month program that is slightly different from most.  Called The Options Program, it has been running in the Gresham High School for 21 years. The Optimist Club helps teachers and counselors work with at-risk-youths to keep them in school, help them avoid being tardy, and raise their grades. The Optimist Club helps especially with motivation and attitude by providing positive reinforcement. 

Daphney Adams was recently recognized by the club for changing her attendance habits and bringing up her grades from Ds and Fs to As and Bs. Daphney, now a senior, is looking forward to attending college and majoring in graphic design.  She thanked her mom and a mentor from Big Brothers Big Sisters for helping her change her habits.

Find out more about The Options Program at the Gresham Optimist Club website.

Photo courtesy of the Gresham Optimist Club.  Shown with Daphney Adams is Ed DeSantis.

December 22, 2009

Optimist Clubs work to ensure all children enjoy the holiday season

For thirty-six years, families in the Prince Calvert, Maryland have been buying their Christmas trees from the Calvert Optimist Club. Generations return to the Optimist Club's designated spot on the Safeway parking lot. This year they are selling 1,050 trees and making wreaths from the fresh cut boughs.

In Champagne, Illinois, Optimist Club president Laura Auteberry spoke with the newspaper to promote their club's Christmas tree lot. "We are the only fundraising tee lot in town," she boasted.

All around the country, Optimist Clubs get in on the Christmas tree action. According to Ms. Auteberry, there are needy kids in every area, and Optimist Club programs provide joy and excitement for those kids. The Christmas tree sales are one way to go about ensuring that all youth get to enjoy the holiday season.

December 21, 2009

Young leaders emerge

The Optimist Club of Radcliff, Kentucky is helping develop leaders with their Youth Appreciation Week activity.  Five students from North Hardin High School visited Radcliff City Hall, Fire Department and Police Department and learned more about how the city administration functions by rubbing elbows with the mayor and having lunch at the fire station.

Smiling for the camera are Mayor Sheila Enyart, Tamisha Brooks, Christina Maguire, Marteze Patton, Sterling Lewis and Alan Fortier.  The photo is courtesy of the Radcliff Optimist Club. 

December 20, 2009

What is old is new again

Recognizing outstanding students has never gone out of style with Optimist Clubs.  I found this post in the "Fifty Years Ago" section of The Examiner, serving Independence, Blue Ridge and Grain Valley Missouri. 

The Blue Ridge Optimist Club honored three outstanding young citizens at a recent meeting in observance of Youth Appreciation Week. Those honored were Mary Jo Campbell of William Chrisman High School, Marilyn Hill of Raytown High School, and Bobby Magness of Raytown Junior High School. Reasons they were chosen, Campbell is an outstanding student and fine golfer; Hill for her above average scholastic standing and extra-curricular activities; and Magness for his work in scouting and in his community.

For more than fifty years, Optimist Clubs have been bringing out the best in children.  Youth Appreciation Week is just one way that we help recognize their accomplishments in headlines.  Find an Optimist Club near you and help the youth in your community make headlines for doing the right things today. 

December 19, 2009

Forty years in the kid business

The Adrian Optimist Club of Adrian, Missouri is celebrating 40 years in the kid business.  They are also celebrating 40 years of being connected and being an integral part of their community.

Take a look at the Adrian Journal online where more than 10 pages of Optimist Club activities have been recorded since 2007.  There are entries about the student of the month program, Christmas activities, the sixth grade dictionary program, bicycle rodeos, independence day parades, essay and oratorical contests and all other Optimist International programs.  There are entries about meetings and installations.  You will also find that the Adrian Optimists contstructed and manage a 14,000 square foot building that is used as a community center and banquet hall and have helped to finance and build other community infrastructure projects like the heliport.

Yes, the Adrian Optimist Club is vital, relevant and successful in their community.  But personally, I want to compliment them on the kid connection.   Making a difference in the lives of children is why we do what we do as Optimist Club members and the Adrian Optimists do it well. 

Picture courtesy of the Adrian Optimist Club Bike Rodeo.

December 18, 2009

Now is the time to provide more service to youth in the Caribbean

Our Optimist Clubs in North America celebrate the holiday season with gusto.  It is an opportunity to throw parties, give gifts and help children feel the wonders of the season.  It is also an opportunity for our capitalistic nature to emerge as we sell Christmas trees, wreaths, candy, popcorn and all sorts of accoutrements of the season.

But in other countries, the holidays are not so commercial.  They are celebrated with joy and reverence, and for some the mission of the Optimist Club is not temporarily hijacked by frivolity.  I found this to be true in Jamaica where the Optimist Clubs in the Caribbean District recently heard from Lloyd B. Smith, President, Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry.  Mr. Smith gave a solemn message and challenge by saying that social clubs will have to play a role in helping youths find their identities.  Doing so will help alleviate social problems in Jamaica.

The presentation came as part of the Caribbean District's first meeting of the 2009-2010 administrative year.  This meeting provides training for club officers and others to carry forth the mission of service to children by building and maintaining youth and adult Optimist Clubs.  District Governor Gene M. Simpson explained, ""Our club mainly focuses on youths and their development and, while we acknowledge that there are similar organisations out there that offer similar services, we want our organisation to be the service club of choice as it relates to what our core function is about."

Thank you for your service to the youths of the Caribbean District and best wishes for success and happiness in the coming year. 

Read the full article "Social clubs need to help youth find themselves."

December 16, 2009

Santa's new ride has a siren

When he is not in his sleigh, the favorite mode of transportation for Santa Claus is the firetruck!

It must be because has been chauffered by local fire departments throughout North America for the past month as he made his early visits to be a part of many Optimist Club Christmas Parades and help set the tone for the Christmas season. 

Mothers are Optimists

I recently saw The Blind Side, the movie depicting the true story of Michael Oher, football star for the University of Mississippi  and first-round draft pick for the Baltimore Ravens in 2009.  The movie is a must-see, even for lackluster football fans like me. 

The story was full of compassion, kindness, ability, and circumstance and the unrelenting drive and determination of Leigh Anne Touhey, the mother that took in a homeless young man and gave him not only a place to sleep, but a family and a career. 

That drive gave me a new appreciation of those mothers we label as soccer moms and inspired me go back and find the picture that I am sharing with you today.  The Optimist Club of Marco Island, Florida is a sports club and the two ladies shown here are credited with starting two new programs for kids this year. On the left is Kim Burke, Optimist Soccer League president and on the right, Diane Trzyna, basketball president. 

The Marco Island Optimist Club presented them with framed jerseys in appreciation.  I want to recognize their accomplishments by saying thank you to Kim, Diane and all the mothers out there that make sure their children have the opportunity to play sports, excel in school, practice a musical instrument or carry on a hobby.  You are true Optimists. 

December 15, 2009

Make scholarship opportunities readily available to students

This post is more for schools and school districts around the country.  Dear reader, if you have any influence with one in your community, please make this suggestion to them; recommend that they include a page on their website devoted to scholarship opportunities. 

This is a link to a scholarship page at the West Caldwell High School in Caldwell, South Carolina. 

And then also encourage a policy which ensures that no opportunities be turned away.   While it seems like such a simple suggestion, I have been amazed at the different counselors and school district superintendents, teachers and others that have said that an award offered by a group is not enough to get their attention or we don't have time to add another contest to our curriculum.  Students have different interests and abilities and what appeals to one may not interest the next.  It is our responsibility to offer opportunities for all. 

Optimist Clubs promote opportunity.  I hope our schools will do the same.

December 14, 2009

Holiday Park has more than 250,000 lights

Visitors will find more than 250,000 lights at  Holiday Park in St. Joseph, Missouri.  Known most of the year as Krug Park, the Parks and Recreation District begins working in mid-October to ensure a magical experience for kids of all ages.  But what makes it tick are the community volunteers that bring the event to life, especially the St. Joseph Optimist Club members who work every evening to provide volunteer security and other services that are needed for an activity of such great magnitude. Great job! 

Holiday Park has been a tradition in St. Joseph for 29 years.  Click here for a picture of the light show entrance.   

December 13, 2009

Share the potential of Optimism

Optimist International is filled with statistics.  There are nearly 100,000 members in 3,000 Optimist Clubs spread out over 38 countries.  Together they perform more than 65,000 youth oriented projects each year.  It is estimated that the average member impacts at least 35 children annually. 

But sometimes it is a lot simpler just to say why it is important to belong and Bob Miller, President, Kalona Optimist Club, Kalona, Iowa recently did just that.  "Be an Optimist Club member and give back to the community," he said in an interview with the Kalona News.

So true!   Find the Optimist Club closest to you and join today.

December 12, 2009

Three outstanding volunteers receive honors

The West Ashley Optimist Club in South Carolina recognized three young ladies for being outstanding volunteers.  The twist - they were outstanding volunteers for organizations other than the Optimist Club. 

Shown here are  Samantha Shealy who volunteers at MUSC Children’s Hospital; Allison Wagenlander who volunteers at BonSecours - St. Francis Hospital; and Carolina Raycroft who volunteers at the South Carolina Aquarium.

The recognition came as part of Optimist International Youth Appreciation Week.  Through the Youth Appreciation program, Optimist Clubs around the world recognize students for doing good things in their community.  The criteria, award, and celebration is designed and bestowed upon the recipients by the local Optimist Club.

Photo submitted by the West Ashley Optimist Club.

December 11, 2009

Youth programs in Lillian, AL receive donations from local Optimist Clubs

The Optimist Clubs of Perdido Bay and Lillian, Alabama celebrated Optimist International Youth Appreciation Week by making donations to worthy causes that help children.  Sharing in the $7,000 bounty were the baseball and soccer teams who play at the Lillian Recreational Park, Baldwin County Special Olympics, Baldwin Technical Center, Special Education programs at Elberta Elementary School and Elberta Middle School. Also Foley High School “Magnolia Room”, Foley Middle School “Magnolia House”, Lillian-Perdido Bay Library, Lillian Recreational Park Lighting and Athletic Equipment Funds, Association of Retarded Citizens of Baldwin County (ARCBC) Thanksgiving Dinner turkeys, Mary’s Shelter Gulf Coast, Elberta Middle School. And Women Build Habitat for Humanity, Medical Supplies for Elberta Elementary School Nurse, High Hopes, an autism program at St. Benedict School, and Robertsdale High School Special Education Program. 

You might say that Christmas came a little early for these organizations thanks to the Optimist Club.

December 10, 2009

Are you looking for a scholarship?

Right here, right now, smack dab in the middle of the holiday season, Optimist Clubs are promoting one of their signature programs: The Optimist International Essay Contest. 

Each year, Optimist Clubs  ask children through 18 years of age on December 31 to write a 500-word or less essay on a topic chosen by Optimist International.  This year the topic is “The Internet: Today’s Evolution or Tomorrow’s Menace?”

Competition for all Optimist International Scholarship programs begins at the club level*.  Optimist Clubs can offer prizes for winning entries. The essay that comes in first place is then forwarded to the District Competition where it competes for a $2,500 scholarship.  Winning District entries move forward again to the international competition and the possibility of earning an additional $6,000 scholarship.  That's a pretty nice reward for 500 words!
*Not every club participates in the Optimist International Essay Contest. 

December 9, 2009

Find a giving tree this Christmas

Santa's toy shop is a busy place at this time of year.  That is why the Optimist Club of Windsor, Ontario has opened up its very own version of St. Nick's workshop.  The Windsor Optimist Club is proud to sponsor Santa's Toy Shop and Star Tree Program.

Both programs encourage residents in the community to visit the giving tree and select and purchase a gift for a child or senior who might not otherwise receive one.  Star Trees are located throughout the community. The Optimist Club will be distributing gifts at the Windsor Community Recreation Center, 250 N. 11th Street from 5 to 8 pm, December 18. 

Click here to learn how to give to the program in Windsor, Ontario. 

December 8, 2009

What does Santa eat for breakfast?

According to the Optimist Club of Coquitlam, British Columbia, Santa Claus eats pancakes for breakfast.  In fact, I believe most Optimist Clubs in North America believe in that menu for the jolly old elf and his friends.

Optimist Clubs have been serving up pancakes to the delight of  youngsters throughout the US and Canada for more than twenty-five years.  In addition to the pancakes, they take pictures with Santa for the children to take home and some give them early gifts.  But I think the best part about Breakfast with Santa is the opportunity for adults to interact with the wonderful young participants for their enthusiasm, smiles and squeals of delight remind us all of what being an Optimist is all about. 

Picture courtesy of the Optimist Club of Coquitlam, British Columbia. Optimist Club Chef Hal Griffin looks on as Santa greets his happy guests. 

December 7, 2009

Holiday Happenings

Most Optimist Clubs perform some type of Christmas event. Could it be because of the youth connection?  Maybe...I know that is sure what brings the most smiles to the most faces.  Here is a look at a few activities in our Optimist Club communities:
  • The Optimist Club of Parry Sound, Ontario coordinated the biggest Santa Claus Parade ever.
  • The Noon Optimist Club of Boise, Idaho helped throw a party with Santa at MSTI for kids with cancer and their families.
  • The Optimist Club of Jerome, Idaho served up free Breakfast with Santa to the entire community.
  • The Mt. Holly Optimist Club of Gastonia, N. Carolina presented free Breakfast with Santa.
  • The Optimist Club of Anguilla celebrated Fete d'Noel.
  • The Optimist Club of Twin Falls, Idaho gave Head Start students and families a dinner party with Santa and presents.

These are just a few examples of how Optimist Clubs and Christmas come together.  Please provide a comment below and tell us about the Holiday Happenings in your Optimist Club!

Photo courtesy of the Parry Sound Optimist Club. 

December 6, 2009

Coats for kids in Idaho

There is a brand new Optimist Club in Eagle, Idaho.  Officially organized on November 17, they have already started their first community service project. They are collecting new and gently used coats for kids to be distributed to children through The Landing Community Center.

Coats for Kids is also carried on by the Jerome and Twin Falls Optimist Clubs in Idaho.  All clubs collect coats through various outlets; they clean and refurbish the coats and then provide them as needed to schools, youth homes and others as requested.  The Optimist Clubs also accept cash donations and purchase coats when stock runs low or special sizes are needed. 

Some kids return their coats for a new one as they outgrow them each year.  What a great way  to pay it forward with the Optimist Club. 

December 5, 2009

Gallop and Gorge for the community

The Gallop and Gorge Thankgsgiving Day Road Race has become an annual event in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  This year, despite foggy weather conditions and with more than 1,000 present at the 8:00 a.m. start, the race attracted more runners than ever before.

The race awards winners in a number of categories, but the category that prompted me to write about this particular race was the Impact category.  According to the organizers, this race and two others in a series collect fees, donations, pledges and sponsors to contribute to the Arc of Orange County, the Optimist Club of Chapel Hill, the Orange County Rape Crisis Center and the El Centro Latino.  They also collect canned food from the participants and fans to distribute to local shelters. 

Who wins at the Gallop and Gorge Thanksgiving Day Race?  Everyone who takes time to participate.  Thanks!

December 4, 2009

How to promote good citizenship

The Breakfast Optimist Club of Loveland, Colorado has been promoting good citizenship at the Winona Elementary School for two decades.  Optimist Club members Ed Stone and Del Wittler usually visit with Good Citizen Awards to students, but when they learned the school needed new flags they knew it was part of their mission. 

In addition to purchasing flags, they have developed a training session to teach respect and proper care of the flag.  What a great way to spread the purposes of an Optimist Club. 

Picture credit: 

December 3, 2009

Bell ringers for a cause

Optimist Club members in Salisbury, Delaware are helping the Salvation Army this Christmas by serving as bell ringers for the annual kettle campaign.  According to Capt. Cameron Henderson, Salisbury branch commander they hope to raise $200,000 this year, up from $163,000 last year.  To accomplish this goal, they have increased the number of kettle locations and upped the number of volunteer hours that were required.

Stepping in to help for the second year in a row is the Salisbury Optimist Club.  Last year, the group donated the largest number of hours and raised the second highest amount of any group.  Optimist Club member Bob Caldwell said that the Optimist Club was up again this year for the challenge.  They began ringing bells in commitment to the cause on Black Friday.

December 2, 2009

Christmas tree sales promote community service

Christmas trees are sprouting up in Bozeman, Montana, Billings, Montana, Meridian, Idaho, Iowa City, Iowa, Plant City, Florida, and many other locations in the United States courtesy of Optimist Clubs. 

Many Optimist Clubs use Christmas tree sales as a major fundraiser each year.  In fact, according to a Google search today, there are more than 150,000 entries for "Optimist Christmas tree sales."

Optimist Clubs provide community service with a focus on projects that benefit, recognize or involve children.  Buying a Christmas tree from your local Optimist Club is a great way to give back to your community.  Buy yours today! 

December 1, 2009

Guest speakers help us stay engaged in our community

Sometimes we can get so caught up in the projects we do, that we forget that one of the reasons we come together in service is so there is a forum for learning.  That forum is our club meeting.  At our Optimist club meetings, we learn from our fellow members and friends, but we also learn from the guest speakers who visit us and tell us about their programs, projects and impact on the community. 

When I saw this great list of service club meetings in the Peoria Journal Star, I knew I just had to share it with you.  Please read through it for ideas of speakers that you may have visit your Optimist Club.  And then imagine, all of this learning is happening in the Peoria area in just one week!

The best way for your club to be relevant and engaged in your community is to listen, learn and then reach out to others in service.

Click on the picture to enlarge the list.


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