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North Carolina offers some special opportunities to veterans, active military, their families and the public over the Veterans Day weekend. Attractions within the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources will welcome all. Most state historic sites are closed but all state parks are open, and of course are free. Free or discounted admission is available at most venues that normally charge an admission, and there will be family-friendly activities all across the state.

Friday, Saturday and Monday in McDowell County:

» McDowell High School will have a Veterans Day ceremony today at 9:15 a.m. in the gym. All active military and veterans are encouraged to attend.

» Marion Moose Lodge 1705 and American Legion Post 56 will host a free dinner on Saturday at the Marion Moose Lodge for McDowell County veterans. Program will start at 6 p.m. and followed by the meal. You can bring a guest with you. American Legion Post 56 Honor Guard will present the five service flags and perform an American flag folding ceremony.

» Mary Tallouzi will share her testimony and story with the school and McDowell Community on Friday at 1 p.m. in the auditorium. Also during the program, eighth grade drama students will read poems and paragraphs will read poems about Veterans Day, the East Middle band will perform the National Anthem and the Armed Forces Medley and members of the McDowell High School NJROTC will present the color guard. A power point presentation will play from students and faculty about veterans in their lives. Home economics will provide goodie bags for veterans. Special seating will be provided for veterans down front in the auditorium. They are invited to stand when their branch of the military is displayed.

» McDowell County Veterans Day observance will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at the McDowell Senior Center. Col. Jerry Baird of the N.C. National Guard will be the guest speaker. There will be recognition of the veterans and a wreath laying ceremony.

Statewide

» N.C. State Parks. From the mountains to the coast, 41 state parks, natural areas and recreation areas will be open as usual and are free.

» Join in a hike through a beautiful longleaf pine ecosystem at Weymouth Woods in the Sandhills Nature Preserve in Southern Pines to honor veterans, their service, and their sacrifices. Everyone is welcome on this two-mile hike and be sure to invite your favorite veterans!

West

» N.C. Transportation Museum, Spencer. Open Nov. 10-11. Veterans will receive free admission and a train ride with military ID. Families with veterans will receive discounts.

» Fort Dobbs, Statesville. Closed Nov. 11. Military Timeline program, Nov. 9-10, examines hundreds of years of North Carolina military history. $2, under age 5 free.

» Mountain Gateway Museum, Old Fort. Open Nov. 9-10, closed Nov. 11. Veterans and their families can enjoy the free exhibit, “A Thousand Words: Photographs by Vietnam Veterans.” Collecting for Wounded Warriors through November.

YMCA provides free access to military families

Active military members, veterans, and their immediate families can visit for free Nov. 9-11

November is National Military Family Month, and the YMCA of Western North Carolina is showing its appreciation to all active military members, veterans and their immediate families with a special offer to visit any of the eight Western North Carolina locations for free Nov. 9-11.

The military member must be over 18 with a valid photo ID and provide proof of military service, such as Veteran Status on your driver’s license, DD Form 214, or military ID. All participants must complete and sign a waiver.

The Y also offers a military appreciation membership rate with no contract or joining fees to active service members, veterans and their families. Visit ymcawnc.org for details.

Shoe Sensation collecting socks for active military, veterans

The local Shoe Sensation store is collecting socks for active military personnel and local veterans now through the end of the year.

The regional chain of family shoe stores is hosting its fourth annual “Socks for Troops” fundraiser company-wide. The recently opened Shoe Sensation store in Marion is doing its part to collect socks for those in uniform or have previously served our country.

“We love to help our local community,” said store Manager Becky Allen to The McDowell News. “We love our veterans and we thank them for their service.”

The local Shoe Sensation will have military approved socks to purchase and donate in the store. Customers will receive 20% off the socks that are donated. Customers will also be able to bring in new socks to be donated, according to Allen.

The collection will last until Dec. 31. The local store is partnering with Post 56 of the American Legion on this project. Post 56 will distribute the collected socks to active military and local veterans.

“With much appreciation for Becky Allen, store manager at Marion’s Shoe Sensation, American Legion Post 56 will receive these donations and distribute them to our active military members and veterans,” said Alan Mainer, commander of the local American Legion. “As a veteran and Commander of Post 56 in Marion, we are always searching for ways to assist our fellow veterans. These socks will be a much welcomed gift as well as a much needed gift.”

Mainer added that if other organizations would like to donate anything, then they should let him know via email at alanmainer@gmail.com or via Facebook.

Last year, Shoe Sensation collected more than 30,000 pairs of socks as a company. This year, each store in the chain will again be collecting socks for active duty military or local veterans in our communities, according to a news release.

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