Green Beret inspires mom to send help

URBANA – When Diane Meister's son Ryan was deployed to Afghanistan in July, one of his first e-mails home was troubling.

The e-mails focused not on the military conflict but on how different everything in Afghanistan was – the terrain, the lifestyle, the desperate poverty. He was particularly struck by the children, who couldn't read and worked every day just to survive.

'Students looked up to her,' a friend recalls

URBANA – Yingbo Zhou is being remembered as a lively young woman with a promising career ahead of her who loved her home country of China as well as the United States.

The 26-year-old University of Illinois graduate student from Changchun, China, died late Monday from injuries she received in a traffic crash on Interstate 74 north of Urbana. A Savoy man has been charged criminally in connection with her death.

Savoy bucks national home-construction trend

SAVOY – It may be unexpected given the national recession, but records show new housing construction in Savoy was up substantially in 2009.

Savoy saw about 74 single-family housing starts through Nov. 13.

Vermilion Health Department to be closed for funeral

DANVILLE – The Vermilion County Health Department will be closed this morning.

The health department at 200 S. College St. in Danville will be closed from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. today to allow employees to attend the funeral of a longtime co-worker, Judith Kay Hawkins, who died Friday, and had worked at the department for the last 18 years. The department will resume its normal hours of service at 1 p.m.

Volunteers sought to help children at Holiday Shop

URBANA – If you feel like doing a good deed this Thanksgiving weekend, the Crisis Nursery of Champaign County could use your help.

The agency needs volunteers to help out at its 17th annual Holiday Shop on Saturday and Sunday at Lincoln Square Village in Urbana.

Hoopeston library's holiday book sale to begin Friday

HOOPESTON – The Hoopeston Public Library will host a holiday book sale beginning Friday in the lower-level board room at the library, 110 N. Fourth St.

The room will have new and used fiction and nonfiction books for all ages, videos and more. Some items are discarded library books, but there are also new and one-of-a-kind titles donated by friends and patrons of the library.

Urbana High to host 38th annual Thanksgiving meal

URBANA – When Mariah Burgess sits down to Thanksgiving dinner with her family, the meal won't take place Thursday.

Oh, she'll celebrate the holiday on Thursday. But it won't be the traditional family gathering. That will have to wait until Saturday.

Catlin sets Christmas event for 5 p.m. Sunday

CATLIN – The village will hold its annual Catlin Community Christmas Spirit event beginning at 5 p.m. Sunday at the community building, 109 N. Sandusky St.

Activities include visits with the reindeer from Hardy's Reindeer Ranch and Santa Claus with photo opportunities with both.

Toys for Troops' Christmas event scheduled for Dec. 6

Toys for Troops will hold its Christmas event from 1 to 4 p.m. Dec. 6 in the game room at Village Inn Pizza Parlor, 1801 W. Springfield Ave., C.

If you want to help, bring a gift for a soldier, bake and pack a dozen cookies, write a letter or a card to enclose in a box or sponsor the cost of shipping one box for $10.95.

3 historical groups joining forces for book sale

DANVILLE – Some local historical organizations will join forces so people can expand their personal libraries or perhaps find a good holiday gift for someone else.

The Vermilion County Museum Society, Illiana Genealogical Historical Society and the C & EI Railroad Historical Society are hosting a holiday historical book sale from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Vermilion County Museum, 116 N. Gilbert St.