At its monthly meeting Feb. 16, the Clearwater Amateur Radio Society celebrated 60 years as an Amateur Radio Relay League-affiliated club. To commemorate the milestone, ARRL West Central Florida Section manager Dee Turner presented CARS president Craig Shapiro with a certificate and a small celebration took place after the meeting.
Officially, CARS became affiliated with the ARRL on Jan. 18, 1954. CARS members provide event communications support for local charity walk-a-thons, runs and bicycle events, participate in the National Weather Service SKYWARN severe weather spotter program, and provide emergency shelter communications for Pinellas County in support of Pinellas County Amateur Radio Emergency Services.
Other CARS events include amateur radio contests, ARRL Field Day, Winter Field Day and Radio Fox Hunting, a contest in which a small low-power transmitter is hidden and amateur radio operators try to find it.
The club also sponsors the Tampa Bay area's only free amateur radio license testing.
Members meet twice monthly, once for business meetings and the second time socially. Most meetings include a presentation on an amateur radio topic of interest.
CARS membership is open to all licensed amateur radio operators. Family memberships are also available.
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Because its bell ringers collected the most donations of any local Rotary Club during the Christmas season, Belleair Rotary recently received the coveted Salvation Army Bell from Zach Bell, an officer with the Salvation Army Corps for Upper Pinellas County.
Belleair Rotary collected $9,805.77, followed by Clearwater Rotary with $4,070.08 and Rotary Club of Dunedin North with $3,411.
As the meeting's guest speaker, Bell also related stories of children and families served by the Salvation Army that were filled with inspiration and hope.
He spoke of more than a hundred homeless children housed in hotels or a transitional living center who are exposed to activities related to character building and able to participate in a weekly music program provided by the Salvation Army.
During Presidents Day, with schools closed, younger children were bused to the Salvation Army facility for lunch and a movie. As part of the movie experience, each child was provided with a small container of popcorn. One child was overheard to say, "So, this is what popcorn is!"
During a drive to Camp Keystone, a Salvation Army-owned campground that hosts children and teens in the summer free of charge, Bell recalled hearing a veteran camper tell a newcomer that the facility was "the most wonderful place ever ... we are served three meals a day."
Recently, in the production of video stories, Bell noted one family interviewed said the Salvation Army meant "everything to us … we don't know that we would be alive without the Salvation Army." The family explained that the organization had given them a place to live for a full year, taught them to function, helped the head of household find a job, taught money management, provided a place for kids to go and taught them about hope.
Bell ended his talk by reminding the Rotarians that the Salvation Army is in the business of hope not only during the holidays, but 365 days a year.
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