Shall we play a game?
The Family & Friends Game Club aims to revive the 'family game night' feeling but on a community level.'
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
Chess is called The Game of Kings, but at Temple Public Library it’s played by a dedicated group of children and soldiers. At least so far — a new game club is growing weekly.
The Family & Friends Game Club meets every Friday from 4 to 6 p.m., and it attracts up to 35 players every week. Participants range in age from 10 to about 35, and all skill levels are welcome.
“We started the club in January, and people are really into it,” said library director Natalie McAdams. “It’s not really about winning the games. The older, experienced players are helping the young ones learn how to play — kind of a mentorship. It’s more about assisting others than beating them.”
“Our veterans are exceptionally good at teaching the game,” she said, “and library staff have been pitching in to help the young players as well.”
Club president Kelly Nichols-Hartbarger said her vision for the club is to bring back the ‘family game night’ feeling, but on a community level.
“Our plans are to eventually expand this to a regular, more than one-day-a-week gathering,” she said. “We are in the process of bringing more games into the club. Last week we had Mahjong. This week we are playing cards.”
Eventually, Nichols-Hartbarger plans to introduce chess tournaments at least once a month.
“We will be having Quad-style tournaments,” she said. “Basically, it will be a four-player Round-Robin format.”
The Family & Friends Game Club was founded by Chess Vets, a veteran-owned nonprofit organization that recently relocated its headquarters to Temple from Chicago. According to program director Michael Lenox, a former diver and submariner in the U.S. Navy, Chess Vets also operates programs in Illinois, California and Tennessee.
“In addition to the library club, Chess Vets is creating a Coffee Chess League,” Lenox said. “The league consists of five-player teams plus alternates.”
Lenox said he is hoping the Temple business community pitches in to help Family & Friends Game Club and the Coffee Chess League succeed.
“We need businesses to supply raffle items and prizes for both programs,” Lenox said. “Players will be given free raffle tickets for attending meetings and additional tickets for winning daily events,” he said. “There will be a drawing at least once an hour.”
Lenox said prizes will include $10 gift cards or certificates to local businesses
“The intent is to promote your business, to reward participation and to get folks to your business,” he said. “We did this for years in Chicago with huge success.”
Chess Vets has big plans for the Family & Friends Game Club and other programs in the community.
“After the Game Club is running smoothly, we will start holding chess tournaments and workshops, Boy Scout chess merit badge clinics and other activities at Temple Public Library and at Wilson Park Community Center,” he said.
According to Lenox, playing chess has many benefits:
It can raise your IQ.
It helps prevent Alzheimers.
It exercises both sides of your brain.
It increases creativity.
It improves memory.
It develops reading skills.
It improves concentration.
It grows dendrites, those “stringy” things in the brain that connect brain cells.
It teaches planning and foresight.
FRIDAY FEBRUARY 18, 2022
Temple-based Brown Box Ninja is a warehouse and order-fulfillment center that serves online merchants all over the world. Amanda Sheppard started the business out of her garage and how leases a 19,000-square-foot warehouse just off I-35 south of Central Avenue. She plans on opening similar warehouse facilities across the U.S.
Temple-based Brown Box Ninja provides services for online merchants
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
Lately, Amanda Sheppard and her spirited social media rants about the ongoing Frito shortage have been all over the news — her quest to find the missing Frito-pie ingredient has been featured on local television and here in Our Town Temple.
Amanda, however, is much more than a corn-chip craving chili lover. She’s also a highly successful business woman who operates a warehouse and order-fulfillment service for online merchants.
Brown Box Ninja, located in a 19,000-square-foot warehouse off I-35 in the heart of Temple, is an order fulfillment center that ships items all over the world. Her customers are online businesses that sell just about everything.
“A lot of online businesses don’t have their own warehouses, so they use us,” Amanda said. “They ship their products to Temple and we store them in our warehouse. When a product is sold from their website — or through online retailers such as Amazon, eBay or walmart.com — we ship it out. Sometimes we ship directly to the buyer, sometimes to the retail giants.”
“The customer can focus on building their business and their online store while we handle warehousing, packaging and shipping,” she said. “We handle the tape, boxes, bubble wrap, bags and pallets.”
So what does Brown Box Ninja ship?
“Just about everything,” the personable Amanda said with a laugh. “You name it — food, hats, toys, clothing, auto parts. Pretty much everything from A to Z.”
Brown Box Ninja ships via UPS and USPS, and it hires freight companies for big loads.
“We use DHL for international shipments,” she said. “But we use all of the major shipping companies. Temple is a great headquarters because of its location. It’s an easy ride to the Amazon distribution centers in Texas.”
Amanda said she developed an interest in product fulfillment after she and her husband, Aaron, launched an e-commerce business in 2013.
“I was a nurse, and Aaron decided to buy a truckload of new auto parts,” she said. “Nothing big like engines or transmissions, but gaskets, door handles, carburetors — small stuff. We set up an online store, and started selling. Our garage was our warehouse.”
Business boomed, and soon the little auto parts store had a warehouse and five employees. Amanda quit her nursing job to work in the online store full time.
“We were doing well, and we got an offer on the business,” she said. “We ended up selling.”
So Amanda was out of the e-commerce business — for a while.
“It was kind of addictive,” she said. “I sat around for a while, then started exploring options to get back in. That’s when I decided to start Brown Box Ninja.”
Business took off, and two years ago Amanda began leasing the building off of General Bruce Drive.
Amanda sees a bright future for Brown Box Ninja.
“I’d like to have refrigeration capabilities so we can store and ship cold and frozen foods,” she said. “And, I’d like to set up Brown Box Ninja warehouses all across the country. I intend to grow.”
Hmmm — perhaps that growing future will include a contract for shipping Fritos to Temple chili fans.
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
A Temple woman with a passion for treasure hunting has made an interesting find with a metal detector her family gave itself for Christmas.
“My husband and I, and our three kids, like to go letterboxing and geocaching,” said Holly Stewart, a Utah native who moved to Temple two years ago. “We have friends who metal detect, so we thought we would give that a try as well.”
Letterboxing and geocaching are similar hobbies that involve looking for “treasures” left by others.
Geocaching is where people look for hidden objects using clues left on a Geocaching app, which is equipped with a global positioning system (GPS).
“Caches generally have three parts: a waterproof container, a logbook to list the people who visit the cache and a low-cost trinket,” Holly said. “If you take the trinket, it is geocaching etiquette to replace it with something else.”
Letterboxing is a similar hobby that combines elements of hiking, treasure hunting and creativity into a family friendly activity.
Participants seek out hidden letterboxes (containers) by following clues that are posted on the specific web sites, and then record their discovery in their personal journal with the help of a rubber stamp that's inside the letterbox.
Hardcore letterboxers make their own personal stamps which they use to mark the log book.
Holly said the Stewart family enjoys playing the game while on trips.
“We usually open the app and see what’s on our route,” she said.
“We like to go over to Washington County because they have a Geo Trail. There are a lot of caches in a small area, and some are very cleverly done.”
According to Holly, a metal detector seemed like a natural progression for a family that enjoys treasure seeking.
“We have friends who geocache with us, and they’ve started using metal detectors and really like it. We decided to get one for the family.”
The first outing was about a month after Christmas. The family took its new toy to Northwest Hills Park on Jan. 22.
“The kids went first but didn’t really find anything,” Holly said. “They were searching around the playground area — we did find a geocache while we were looking — but no buried treasure.”
Soon after Holly took control of the detector, it alerted to a find.
“It wasn’t really that deep,” she said. “I dug it up — it was an old locket or a photo necklace. It’s metal, not plastic, and it is old enough that it had started deteriorating.”
The medallion also features a faded photo of a small girl.
“It’s hard to say, but judging from the clothes she’s wearing, I’d say the photo was taken around 1980,” Holly said. “There’s a big bow on her dress, and those were popular back then.”
“I think it would be cool to find the person who lost this,” she said. “I don’t have a use for it, but it might mean a lot to someone.”