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Toys for Tots Reaches Children in Need Year-Round

(NewsUSA) - Most people think of Marine Toys for Tots as the flagship Children’s Christmastime charity, but it is much more. The organization continues to seek more ways to support children in need throughout the year.     

“Toys for Tots distributed three million toys, games and books to COVID-19-impacted families through its DoGoodNow campaign over the past two years. Our support was desperately needed and so well received that we want to continue to do more --  at Christmastime and beyond. For the third year in a row, we’ll be partnering with our friends at Good360 and will expand upon our DoGoodNow initiative by distributing another one million toys, books and games to families with children in need,” says LtGen Jim Laster, President & CEO of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation.     

He continues, “Our support doesn’t stop there. We want to be able to reach even more underprivileged children through other avenues. This summer, Marine Toys for Tots expands the DoGoodNow campaign with Summer of Smiles. One way Toys for Tots delivers summertime smiles is by providing support to children in the foster care system.”     

On June 3rd, staff members from the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation teamed with Wendy Chadwell, local Coordinator for Middle Georgia, to distribute educational gifts and bring hope to children in Georgia’s foster care system. The Foundation provided educational toys, books, games, and school supplies, and volunteers filled 476 brand-new backpacks to the brim to provide to local foster care children! The gifts were received by the local District Foster Care Coordinators who represented eleven surrounding counties and will be given directly to children in the local foster care program.     

This initiative is just one of many that allows the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation to provide support to underprivileged children beyond the holiday season.     

“It is Marine Toys for Tots’ mission to bring hope and joy to more children in need every year -- even beyond the holidays,” explains LtGen Laster. “That is why we distributed educational toys, books, games,school supplies and backpacks to the local District Foster Care Coordinators in Middle Georgia. This initiative was our first step in supporting children in foster care,” LtGen Laster adds.     

“These children leave their homes with only a small plastic bag of their belongings. Marine Toys for Tots wants to give foster care children not only something tangible to take with them as they move, but also some tools and hope for a brighter tomorrow.”   

Visit for more information on how to help Toys for Tots support children year-round. Follow Marine Toys for Tots on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn to learn about the year-round impact you’re making for our Nation’s children in greatest need.

Get Outside and Celebrate National Trails Day

(NewsUSA) - This year, on June 4, millions of people across the United States will hit the trail, any trail, to celebrate the 30th annual American Hiking Society's National Trails Day.® This year's celebration focuses on encouraging novice and veteran trail lovers to come together to leave trails and the outdoor community better than they found them. Hikers, cyclists, horseback riders, paddlers, trail clubs, federal and local agencies, land trusts and businesses will partner at events across the country to forge a more inclusive trail community and advocate for, maintain and clean up trails and public lands.

American Hiking Society and the nationwide trails community invite people of all ages and abilities to connect with their friends and neighbors around the joy of being outside. Anyone can join the national movement by giving back to the trails to help ensure that everyone can enjoy the outdoors.

"There's something magical about being outdoors," says Kate Van Waes, Executive Director of American Hiking Society.

"Fresh air, birds singing, moving along a trail, or even just around the block; there's nothing quite like it," she emphasizes. "But today, those trails and green spaces are in dire need of help, and not everyone has access to or feels welcome in these places that can calm and inspire," Dr. Van Waes explains.

"National Trails Day is the perfect opportunity to get out there with the people you love, give back to the trails that bring us together and make sure no one is left out."

Not just on National Trails Day, but any day is a great time to commit to keeping the outdoors accessible and restorative for all.

Some ways you can make a difference include:

Join a local trail event, or start your own. Search the American Hiking Society website for events in your area.

Take the National Trails Day Pledge, and commit to leaving the trail and the outdoor community better than you find them. For example, take a trash bag with you on a walk or hike. Or speak up and tell your Members of Congress to support the Transit to Trails Act. You'll be entered to win prizes from National Trails Day sponsors AKHG by Duluth Trading Co., Athletic Brewing Co., REI Co-op, Osprey Packs, and more.

- Share how you'll leave the trail and the outdoor community better than you found them, and tag #NationalTrailsDay and @AmericanHiking on social media. Photos and videos tagged on Instagram will be entered into the National Trails Day® photo contest for a chance to win premium gear prize packages.

Visit for more information and to find events near you.

American Hiking Society's National Trails Day® is made possible by the generous support of corporate sponsors -- AKGH by Duluth Trading Co., Athletic Brewing Co., REI Co-Op, and Osprey Packs. federal partners include the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Federal Highway Administration, and U.S. Forest Service.

Photo credit:Verónica Miranda

Reissued: 6/15/2022 

American Legion Auxiliary Honors Military on National Poppy Day

(NewsUSA) - Memorial Day is approaching, and with it comes a simple opportunity for everyone to honor past military personnel -- wear or display a poppy. The simple red poppy flower has symbolized the ultimate military sacrifice since World War I, and National Poppy Day is gaining more attention in the United States every year.

National Poppy Day falls on the Friday before Memorial Day, which this year is May 27.

The choice of a poppy was inspired by the poem, "In Flanders Fields," written by Canadian Lt. Col. John McCrae, M.D., while serving on the front lines in World War I in Europe. Since then, the poppy has become a symbol to raise awareness and recognize the sacrifices of military personnel and their families.

The American Legion Auxiliary (ALA), a community of volunteers serving veterans, military, and their families, adopted the poppy as its memorial flower in 1921, and, in 1924, in conjunction with The American Legion, instituted the national Poppy Program. Each year, American Legion Auxiliary volunteers distribute millions of poppies, especially on veteran-related holidays.

"National Poppy Day is a time for Americans to come together and show their support for our servicemembers and veterans by wearing a red poppy -- an unforgettable and historic symbol of remembrance, sacrifice, and hope," says Kathy Daudistel, ALA national president.

"The American Legion Auxiliary is proud to make and distribute poppies each year for this solemn tradition. I invite communities across the country to join the American Legion Auxiliary to honor the fallen and support the living by wearing a red poppy on Friday, May 27."

Everyone can participate in National Poppy Day to honor the fallen and support the living. Wear a poppy or a poppy-themed item, such as a pin, T-shirt, bracelet, or even a poppy sticker, and tell people what it means. Share poppies with friends, family, and colleagues. Accept a poppy if you see American Legion Auxiliary members distributing the special flower. Poppies are never "sold," but donations are encouraged.

All donations received are used by the American Legion Auxiliary to support veterans, active-duty military personnel, and their families with medical and financial needs.

Visit for more information about National Poppy Day. Visit for more information about the American Legion Auxiliary.

BookTrib's Bites: Loss, Lies, Betrayal, SciFi Thriller, Southern Saga


All We Have to Believe In"All We Have to Believe In"
by Jeffrey Lousteau

A captivating story of love and loss, of betrayal and redemption, set against the backdrop of America in the 1920s. Edward Dooley is a disillusioned veteran of the Great War who comes home to San Francisco, struggles to fit into a fast-changing society, and falls in love with the daughter of immigrants who is as headstrong as he is idealistic.

Beneath all the glamour of the dazzling decade, however, xenophobia is taking hold, prosperity is undone by greed, and Prohibition proves morally bankrupt. Told with compassion and rich in historical detail, the themes of this story continue to resonate today. Says one reviewer, "Will pull at your heartstrings and make you nostalgic about an era long forgotten." Purchase at

A Good Lie"A Good Lie"
by Roberta Temes

Could you perpetuate a devastating lie and never reveal the truth to your daughter? Louie plans to.

Could you withhold a shocking secret from your new spouse? Suzie plans to.

Catastrophe occurs after a quiet Midwestern family receives flawed medical advice concerning psychotic postpartum depression. This psychological novel takes you from 1960s Iowa to 1980s New Jersey. You'll root for Laurie, the desperate, lonely teenager who is intrigued by a cult leader, and you'll probably root for Dot, the voice of reason and common sense, but will you root for the struggling dad, or the devious psychotherapist, or the strong woman who defies society's expectations?

Families are complicated; good people may do bad things, and bad people may do good things. Are family secrets always harmful? Purchase at

Dusted by Stars"Dusted by Stars"
by G.A. Matiasz

This far-future science fiction adventure thriller is a rollicking space opera with a touch of fantasy. Set in the universe of the author's previous books, Stacy Jones is a small-time contractor and proud citizen of socialist Mars. But she barely makes ends meet as an independent starship pilot and freight hauler. When Stacy takes a commission to transport the mythical sangrael possessed by the legendary Medea Ae?tes, she unknowingly puts her life and livelihood at risk.

Stacy teams up with Kryz, a diminutive Rarj, to battle thieves and hijackers across a galaxy swarming with aliens and riddled with danger. Together they maneuver through bar brawls and mercenaries, armed seizures and dogfights, suicide attacks and death squads to protect her precious cargo. Purchase at

Exiled South"Exiled South"
by Harriet Cannon

This book "rips the cover off traditional Southern sagas and takes you on a riveting international journey exploring the hidden trauma and deep wounds of three generations following the Civil War," says author Eleanor McCallie Cooper.

School counselor Lizbeth Gordon returns home to South Carolina after her husband's sudden death. But the quiet life doesn't last. An elderly aunt has troubling family stories: a blockade runner hunted as a traitor after the fall of Charleston, and ancestors who disappeared during Civil War Reconstruction.

We're taken across continents when Lizbeth takes a job at a school in Rio de Janeiro, where she meets a descendant of Confederate exiles, with the Gordon surname and nineteenth-century documents. Can the keys to generations-long secrets open a path to family reconciliation? Purchase at

NOTE: BookBites is presented by

BookTrib's Bites: A Plethora of Intriguing Reading

The Bus to Beulah"The Bus to Beulah"
by E.C. Hanes

On her way to a new job in America, Maria Puente accidentally discovers a human- trafficking ring. Fearing exposure, the American company that manages it kidnaps Maria.

Maria's disappearance triggers a desperate search to find her before the kidnappers can permanently dispose of her. As the investigation unfolds, longtime Hogg County high sheriff Will Moser confronts Albert Waters, a powerful businessman who Will suspects knows about Maria's disappearance -- but Albert and his Mexican cartel partners prove to be brick walls.

Will calls on Elijah Kahn, a man he got to know while serving in Vietnam who now runs one of the world's largest international security firms. This taut thriller culminates in a heart-pounding chase to save Maria. Purchase at .

Blockchain Ethics: Fighting Honorable Battles"Blockchain Ethics: Fighting Honorable Battles"
by Jamil Hasan

A continuation of the Blockchain Ethics consumer guide series that author Jamil Hasan first penned in 2018. He continues to address important trends in the media plaguing the retail consumer's ability to effectively and accurately understand the benefits of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology: specifically, media disinformation and misinformation.

The author examines the more than 400 times that Bitcoin has been pronounced dead by "experts" in the mainstream media and dispels Bitcoin's demise by sharing excerpts from guests' podcast interviews while hosting them at the weekend Crypto Corner Podcast. He tackles conversations with entrepreneurs, founders and business leaders, providing readers with an ethical guide to understanding Bitcoin, free from media bias against the popular cryptocurrency. Purchase at

A Promise for His Daughter"A Promise for His Daughter"
by Danielle Thorne

His latest project has a two-year-old surprise.

Fatherhood wasn't what Bradley Ainsworth expected to find at Henny House. The run-down Victorian is his best shot at proving himself as a historic renovator, but the new owner has no interest in recreating the past. Claire Woodbury and her foster daughter, Emily, are focused on the future -- until everyone learns that Emily is Bradley's daughter. Does that future have room for him as a father…and more?

The author has written more than 25 books including, romantic adventures and historical novels. This book is part of the Love Inspired Inspirational Romance Series, in which readers fall in love with stories where faith helps guide them through life's challenges, and they discover the promise of a new beginning. Purchase at

The Prison Minyan"The Prison Minyan"
by Jonathan Stone

Welcome to Otisville, America's only Jewish prison . . . rugelach, blintzes and a quest for vengeance from the highest tier of the US government. A crew of fraudsters, tax evaders, trigamists, and forgers discuss matters of right and wrong in a Talmudic study and prayer group, led by a rabbi who's a fellow convict.

As the only prison in the federal system with a kosher deli, Otisville is the penitentiary of choice for white-collar Jewish offenders. When the regime is toughened to punish a newly arrived celebrity convict who has upset the 45th president, they find devious ways to fight back.

Stone brings the sensibility of Saul Bellow and Philip Roth to the post-truth era in a sharply comic novel that is also wise, profound and deeply moral. Purchase at

NOTE: BookBites is presented by

Massive Volunteer Effort Touches 18 States

"Strong community involvement is at the heart of Williams, driven by our core value to be responsible stewards," says Alan Armstrong, president and chief executive officer of Williams, which handles 30 percent of the nation's natural gas. "By harnessing the energy and enthusiasm of our employees, we're exemplifying our values by lending a hand to the nonprofits that work hard every day to improve our communities."

Williams volunteer week builds on the company's long tradition of being a good neighbor through employee volunteerism and financial support. Projects this year ranged from outdoor beautification to volunteering in elementary school classrooms to helping at food banks.

In Houston, employees revitalized a community garden in an underserved area. Williams employee Jerry Fabian is on the board of directors for nonprofit Urban Harvest, which has a mission to increase access to fresh and local food. The Happy Place Garden serves a low-income population.

"This area is classified as a food desert, meaning many residents live away from a supermarket or grocery store with healthy food options. The goal is to revitalize this garden so that the neighborhood can once again plant and harvest nutritious foods from the allotted beds, plus also have a safe space for the neighbors to gather and build social cohesion."

Fabian, a supervisor of project controls at Williams, says employee volunteerism is not just a duty, but a privilege.

"While we are supporting the areas where we work, live and play, we are also helping to create a sustainable and safe community for everyone. Obviously, volunteering has a positive impact on the communities, but it also creates a positive and lasting feeling of achievement."

In North Carolina, Williams' Coordinator of Maintenance Chad Dlugoszewski says it feels good to help a local nonprofit needing volunteers with skills in repairs and construction. At the Ada Jenkins Center in Davidson, N.C., employees repaired roofs, sanded and painted walls, assembled pantry shelving and pruned trees.

"The center rarely has volunteers with the skills required for upkeep and repairs to their 85-year-old building," Dlugoszewski says. "Partnering with Williams for the volunteer project allowed them to make repairs that have been needed for years."

In western Georgia, employees documented thousands of gravestones at a nearby cemetery. The project, in coordination with Billion Graves, will add to an online database of gravestones that can then be located by longitude and latitude, says Tina Kitchens, a senior field office administrator at Williams.

"There is a huge need to record all gravestones so that relatives and descendants can search for their loved ones," says Kitchens. "Some of the gravestones date back decades and are too dirty to read, so we will carefully and respectfully wash them and load the images to the Billion Graves app."

Kitchens says Williams' support of volunteer efforts is meaningful to both employees and those in need.

"It makes us feel good to do something for others," she says. "I hope if I was in need, there would be caring people out there to help."

These are just a few of the many volunteer projects completed across the nation by Williams employees in only one week. To learn more about Williams and see photos from its volunteer week, visit


Taming Summer's Utility Bill Trifecta Surging Temperatures, Costs, Demand

(NewsUSA) - Summer 2022 promises to be particularly challenging as it relates to America's home energy costs due to a confluence of three events - rising temperatures, costs and demand - resulting in homeowners facing an intensified fight to keep bills at bay.

The Farmer's Almanac predicts a "Sizzling Summer Ahead" stating this summer weather is going to be remembered as a hot one nationwide. Second, homeowners are experiencing a "rate shock" as the global energy crisis drives up prices with energy costs up 25.6% year over year, according to the Consumer Price Index. Third, there is surging demand due to our post-pandemic "hybrid home" dynamic. Studies support this trend with 83% of workers believing a hybrid model would be optimal going forward, according to an Accenture survey, and 87% of managers believing working from home is the future, according to Remote-How research.

The good news is that families can offset this "Utility Bill Trifecta" by following a few simple tips. With home heating and cooling accounting for nearly half of home energy use, small steps can go a long way.

* Ease Into Electric: According to Columbia University's Earth Institute, electric systems are a solution to decarbonize home climate control. Among the most energy-efficient heating and cooling products, electricity-powered ductless mini-split systems, offered by companies including Fujitsu General America, can save as much as 25 percent on your energy bill. Mini-splits use thin copper tubing to pump refrigerant from an outdoor compressor directly into an indoor air-handling unit, where the air is quietly distributed to the interior space.

* Get "Smart" About Climate Control: When it comes to smart home temperature control, there are Smart HVAC Systems and Smart Thermostats. Smart HVAC systems have built-in Wi-Fi and can be controlled directly without additional equipment. Smart Home Thermostats create "smart" systems by enabling remote temperature control via a mobile or Internet-con-nected device or voice-operated home automation system.

* Voice Your Preference: Take control of your comfort. Most HVAC manufacturers offer apps that enable systems to be controlled from anywhere using a mobile device. Voice-control capability uses digital assistants, like Amazon Alexa or Google Home, to verbally dictate home temperatures. Easily controlling the temperature more closely, allows homeowners to be more comfortable and improve energy savings.

* Find Your Efficient Comfort Zone: Many of us live in homes designed for bigger families, but have yet to downsize. If you find yourself using a fraction of your home on a regular basis, consider upgrading to a zoned ducted, or ductless system. That will allow you to save energy heating and cooling spaces where you and your family don't spend a lot of time. This will multiply savings as you're not only needing less cooling but you also gain from a more efficient system in the spaces you do still use.

* Try Low-tech Fixes: Simple changes can have a big impact. Try to use heat-producing appliances -- stoves, irons and dryers -- at night or early morning. Switch to LED light bulbs instead of incandescent bulbs - which consume 90% more power. Seal air leaks around windows, doors, and places where pipes and wires come through walls. Check existing caulking and weather-stripping for gaps or cracks.

Curbing energy bill costs can be more than just a summer dream. If a new system is right for you, many Fujitsu systems with the Energy Star rating are more than twice as efficient as the minimum standard set by the government. To learn more or find a contractor near you, call 888-888-3424 or visit

Diveheart Adaptive Scuba Diving Trip Transforms Filmmaker's Life

(NewsUSA) - Scuba diving can be an exotic and enriching activity for anyone, but for individuals with a range of physical or cognitive disabilities, the unique weightlessness of the underwater environment allows them to exercise, relax, have fun and gain confidence like no other experience. Children and adults with challenges, including traumatic brain injuries, amputation, spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy and blindness can enjoy the physical and psychological benefits of scuba diving.

Diveheart, a Downers Grove, Ill.,-based nonprofit tax-exempt organization, has been helping youth, veterans and others with disabilities through adaptive scuba and scuba therapy since 2001.

Last year, Los Angeles filmmaker David Marsh accompanied a Diveheart team on a scuba trip to Cozumel, Mexico, to make a documentary about the organization and its mission. For Marsh, the experience was life-changing, as he completed the trip and his filming despite the tragic personal loss of his son to a drug overdose just one week earlier.

On the last day of the trip, Marsh shared his loss with the Diveheart team.

"David Marsh is amazing and awesome. Despite his loss and grief, he soldiered on and captured the spirit, love and hope that emerges from every Diveheart trip," says Diveheart's founder and president, Jim Elliott.

"He captured the essence of our mission and shared the real-life experience of what Diveheart does to help those with disabilities experience freedom underwater."

In the documentary, every day embraces a theme; day one is trust, day two is freedom and day three is adapting. Audiences will see how Marsh translated the feelings of the adaptive divers, who shared their losses, struggles, fears and hopes.

"We are so grateful to David for capturing Diveheart in action," Elliott emphasizes. "My hope for this documentary is to raise awareness to Diveheart's mission: to revolutionize rehabilitation by using zero gravity underwater to help those with everything from mobility issues to chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder. We help our participants find that self-confidence, personal strength and independence, and we will continue to do so in the years to come."

The documentary, "Adapting To Dive," premieres at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 18, 2022, at Classic Cinemas Tivoli Theatre, 5021 Highland Ave. in Downers Grove, Ill.

Visit for more information about Diveheart. To see a trailer of the documentary, click here. Tickets are $12 for general admission and accessible seating.

For more information about the documentary and tickets, click here.


Toys for Tots Youth Ambassadors Take the Lead in Serving Others

(NewsUSA) - Toys for Tots is the Nation's flagship children's Christmastime charity, but the Program extends to helping children and families in need year-round. The Toys for Tots Youth Ambassador Program was established in 2020 to celebrate the energy, enthusiasm and pure generosity of exceptional young people around the country who volunteer their time serving underprivileged children and help teach the value of service to others of the next generation.

In 2020, Toys for Tots President & CEO Lieutenant General James Laster learned of two outstanding young individuals from Texas, Christopher and Taylor Bracey, who were going above and beyond to serve those less fortunate in their community. After traveling to Texas to meet the siblings, LtGen Laster appointed them as Toys for Tots' first-ever Youth Ambassadors, and in 2021 the Youth Ambassador Program was expanded to include eight additional members across the Nation who have also distinguished themselves with their volunteer efforts for Toys for Tots.

A Youth Ambassador is a member of a select group of our Nation's youth who serve as volunteer representatives of Toys for Tots by helping to inspire others with their positive interactions with community involvement with the Toys for Tots Program. The Youth Ambassadors are nominated by their local Coordinator and are then selected to represent their respective Regions for a one-year term.

"Kids helping kids," is a powerful message that resonates among all demographics whose active engagement becomes contagious in helping those less fortunate," says LtGen Laster.

Youth who apply and are invited to become Ambassadors work with their local Toys for Tots Coordinator, who will serve as a mentor for the children and their parents.

Youth Ambassadors are selected to represent their local campaigns because they have gone above and beyond in their communities to help those less fortunate and engage community members on behalf of Toys for Tots. Each of the current Youth Ambassadors support local toy drives and distributions during campaign season, as well as other endeavors throughout the year such as, sending baskets to military members, assisting with food drives and helping with church charities, and exhibiting tremendous leadership skills as Officers in the Young Marines Program.

The 2021 Youth Ambassadors are Taylor and Christopher Bracey, Mila Lang, Rorilynn McClay, Mary Wohlwend, Janah Moorer, Leah Hutchinson, Susan Suber, Kimber Doyle and Natalie Dahm.

These extraordinary young people continue to make a difference in their communities through peer awareness and working with their local Toys for Tots campaigns on a range of projects to help those less fortunate, while also maintaining high academic standards at school.

Visit to read more about the outstanding Youth Ambassadors and their endeavors!


Young Illinois Farmers Awarded Nearly $60K from CME Group

(NewsUSA) -You herd it here first, the Illinois State Fair is back again this year, providing a way for skilled young farmers to show off their hard work and demonstrate their expertise in the agricultural industry.

Agricultural education is an important priority for CME Group. During this year's Governor's Sale of Champions, student exhibitors were presented with one-time scholarships totaling $50,000. Each of the ten Grand Champion exhibitors will receive a $5,000 scholarship, which will be used to advance their education. Recipients of the 2021 CME Group scholarships were: Ashtin Guyer (Crawford, IL), Brayden Wilson (LaSalle, IL), Cole Caldwell (Peoria, IL), Edward Hanson (Iroquois, IL), Ella Bobell (Logan, IL), Jess Hawk (DeKalb, IL), Landrey Freeman (Scott, IL), Maddox Horner (Jasper, IL), Nolan Hoge (McDonough, IL) and Owen Pree (Iroquois, IL).

"At CME Group our roots are in agriculture and we understand the critical role that farmers play in fueling the global economy," said Tim Andriesen, Managing Director of Agricultural Products at CME Group. "These students are the among the best and the brightest and we are proud to support them as they further their education and become the next generation of agricultural leaders."

Young ag enthusiasts also demonstrated their knowledge around identifying and managing livestock at this year's Illinois 4-H Livestock Skillathon on August 11th. During the Skillathon, participants were tested on management, equipment identification, breed identification, quality assurance and cattle marketing. CME Group, the world's leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace, spearheaded the cattle marketing portion to assess risk management skills and strategic decision-making abilities.

After intense competition, nine champions each received a $1,000 CME Group scholarship to continue their education. Recipients of the 2021 CME Group Skillathon scholarships were: Alyson Utegg (Grand Ridge, IL), Anna Curley (Good Hope, IL), Cole Paulek (Stonington, IL, Davis Howell (Maroa, IL), Hannah Miller (Chatsworth, IL), Jack Link (Gilson, IL), Lauren Wolters (Aviston, IL), Liam Steward (Mechanicsburg, IL) and Waylen Paulek (Stonington, IL).

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