Around the House

New Year, New Winter Fun

Although Indiana’s temperatures have dropped, we can still stay active outdoors this winter. Follow Visit Indiana’s guide to outdoor recreation to experience Indiana’s beautiful winter, whether planning an adventure near home or making a weekend getaway at the opposite end of the state.

Spend time outdoors at one of several Indiana outdoor ice skating rinks, many of which are in the heart of some Hoosier downtowns. Ice skaters can go shopping or stop by a local coffee shop for some hot chocolate to help stay warm between skating sessions.

Hilly southern Indiana makes for some great downhill skiing, snowboarding and tubing, with locations in Lawrenceburg and Paoli, while northern Indiana is home to cross-country skiing on the 6.4-mile Ly-co-ki-we Trail at Indiana Dunes National Park.

Also in southern Indiana, Hoosiers can hit the throttle on a snowmobile with more than 60 miles of trails in Elkhart and St. Joseph counties, or try out the famous sledding experience at Pokagon State Park’s Toboggan Run, the only refrigerated toboggan run in the Midwest.

For those looking for an experience without the snow, consider a trip to Turkey Run State Park to see the habitats of bald eagles, go horseback riding in Hendricks County, or explore the Indiana Cave Trail  where the temperature never changes.

Check out to plan one of these adventures or find others close to home. As you plan for the outdoors, dress appropriately for the weather by bringing boots, mittens and winter coats, and don’t forget the camera for capturing the scenery and memories. Most important, have fun!

Students Are Invited To Page At Statehouse

Students interested in learning more about state government are encouraged to participate in the Indiana House Page Program during the upcoming 2020 legislative session.

Hoosiers ages 13 to 18 can spend a day at the Statehouse in Indianapolis assisting House legislators and staff and touring government offices. Pages experience how the Indiana legislature works, including discussions on various proposals for new laws.

Indiana’s 2020 legislative session begins Monday, Jan. 6, and must conclude by mid-March. Pages can pick available dates during that timeframe. Openings fill quickly, so students are encouraged to apply soon. Participants receive an excused absence from school, and groups can participate together. Please note that students are responsible for their own transportation.

For more information and to apply for the Indiana House Page Program, visit or call 800-382-9841.

Heating Assistance Available

With the temperatures dropping, the cost of heating and electric bills tend to rise. This increased cost can be overwhelming for some families throughout the state. Low-income Hoosiers who need help paying their heating bills this winter can apply for benefits through the Energy Assistance Program.

This federally funded program is a one-time benefit that can help with the high cost of home energy, and offers support to those about to be disconnected. The benefit does not cover all heating and electric costs, so those planning to take advantage of this assistance should continue paying their bills regularly. Some Hoosiers may even qualify for an additional benefit if all utility bills are paid on time.

Applications for heating benefits are being accepted now through May. Click here for eligibility requirements and more information.

Many utility companies around Indiana also offer resources to assist low-income customers. Click here to learn more about these companies and other organizations assisting Hoosiers with their heating bills.

Those not sure who to contact about heating assistance or in need of other resources should call 2-1-1, a free and confidential service available 24/7 that helps Hoosiers find local resources.

Hoosiers can also try cost-saving energy tips like letting natural light in to help heat the house, covering drafty windows and keeping the fireplace damper closed when a fire is not burning.

Don’t Get Scammed This Holiday Season

Online shopping is more popular than ever for its convenience, but comes with inherent pitfalls. Fortunately, most can be avoided. That’s why it is so important to make sure you are taking precautions when buying this holiday season.

Always protect personal information like your name, address and credit/debit card numbers by ensuring you are on a secure website. The easiest way to do that is to make sure the letter “S” appears at the end of HTTP in the URL code, and avoid using public Wi-Fi when making online purchases.

Be sure to look at the fine print to ensure you’re purchasing exactly what you want. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers use email to convince you they are from a reputable retailer, but always check the store’s official site to confirm it is the real deal. If purchasing gift cards, know the terms and the expiration date.

After buying online, it is likely those purchases will be delivered to your home. Most companies now offer notifications as to when your package arrives, and you can track the process for an approximate delivery time and date. But if you are unable to be at home, see if the retailer has an in-store pick up to ensure your items are not stolen. Work with a trusted neighbor or family member to watch each other’s properties and pick up delivered packages as soon as possible

When shopping at traditional retail stores, do not be an easy target for theft. Conceal your purchases in the trunk of a car or bring a blanket to cover them up if stored inside your vehicle.

Secure your wallet and cash at all times while out shopping, and make sure to check bank and credit card statements in a timely fashion to ensure there are no surprise or unnecessary charges. Use a credit card where possible as it is easier to dispute a charge than with a debit card.

Despite our finest efforts, bad actors are sometimes able to get the best of us. If you believe you are a victim of a scam, please file a complaint with the Indiana Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division. A consumer complaint can be filed at or call 1-800-382-5516.

Shop Local Nov. 30

The holiday season is a time for family, friends and rejoicing. When you make your shopping list and prepare for the holidays, please consider supporting the small businesses in your local community, especially on Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday is on Nov. 30 and is the perfect occasion to support the employers and entrepreneurs who make our communities unique. Local stores and businesses offer a wide variety of high-quality products and services. Additionally, when you support a small business, your money stays in the community. In fact, for every dollar spent at a small business in the U.S., approximately 67 cents stays in the area. So when you shop small, it makes a big impact.

There are over 500,000 small businesses in Indiana employing over 1.2 million Hoosiers. It cannot be overstated how important these entrepreneurs are to the state and their community. Chances are, family members, friends and neighbors work for or own a small business, and they deserve our support.

It’s been 10 years since the launch of Small Business Saturday, which was created during the Great Recession to drive awareness of small brick-and-mortar stores and their communities, especially around the holiday season. With the retail landscape evolving, it’s more important than ever to shop locally.

For many of these small businesses, Small Business Saturday is their biggest sales day of the year. Please show them your support on Saturday, Nov. 30, and beyond.

Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving

Each year on Thanksgiving, we count the many blessings in our lives. As we prepare for next week’s turkey feast and quality time with loved ones, let us also remember those less fortunate and consider how we can help others.

There are numerous ways to give back during the holiday season, especially on and after the Thanksgiving holiday. From putting together food baskets to volunteering at your local soup kitchen, there is no shortage of opportunities to lend a helping hand.

The United Way and the Salvation Army are great organizations hosting and facilitating a wide variety of ways and events for Hoosiers to donate their time and resources year round. Feeding America is another organization connecting Hoosiers with local food banks. For more ideas on how you and your family can give back this holiday season, click here.

Be it your time or a monetary donation, your contribution – no matter how small – can make a big difference in the life of a fellow Hoosier in need. Please consider how you can help others this holiday and beyond. We wish you the happiest of Thanksgivings, and may God bless you and your family.

Changing Lives Through Adoption

November is recognized as National Adoption Month, and this year’s focus is on adopting a child through the foster care system. There are currently more than 9,000 Hoosier children in foster care, and many of them are waiting to be adopted.

If you are able, consider welcoming one of Indiana’s most vulnerable into your life. A safe place to call home and a loving family can have a big impact on a child.

Many may think becoming an adoptive parent is difficult and costly, but most adults qualify after meeting these few requirements, including a background check, home study and 16 hours of training. There is no requirement for owning your home, being married or having children of your own. In fact, some children do better as an only child or in a single-parent household.

Throughout the month of November, the Department of Child Services is hosting events through the state. Click here to find a nearby event. Visit or call 888-25-ADOPT to learn about children eligible for adoption and how you can change a child’s life.

Nominate A Hoosier Artist

If you know an individual, group, organization, business or community that has made a significant contribution or positive impact on the growth, awareness, and strength of the arts in Indiana, please nominate them for a Governor’s Arts Award.

Since 1973, the Governor’s Arts Awards have celebrated the outstanding contributions of Indiana’s artists, arts organizations, volunteers, educators, local governments and corporate citizens. This biennial award is the state’s highest honor in the arts.

Award categories include Artist, Advocate, Community, Corporation/Organization, Educator and Emerging Artist.

In 2018, the first “emerging artist” award went to musician and Fort Wayne native, Addison Agen, who was a finalist on NBC’s “The Voice.”

Those nominated for the award must be or have been residents of the state of Indiana. Organizations and businesses nominated should have headquarters or operations in the state.

Nominations are due by Dec. 1, 2019. Click here to learn more and submit a nomination.

Support for the arts not only helps spark creativity and innovation in individuals, but can also unify communities and foster tourism. Indiana is home to a vibrant and growing art scene, and we want to recognize local artists and art advocates.

Find your polling place, ballot info

More than 4.5 million Hoosiers are registered voters and many of them will head to the polls for local elections on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

This election will cover most of Indiana’s cities and towns across the state. Hoosiers will have the opportunity to select their mayor, city clerk or city clerk-treasurer, judge of a city court and town council member or members.

Remember to bring your state-issued photo ID with you when heading to your polling place to cast your ballot.

State law requires voters to be at least 18 years old on Election Day, or 17 years old if they will turn 18 on or before the next general election, and live in their precinct for at least 30 days before the election.

The polls will be open between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Tuesday. Click here to find your polling place, with easy access to directions and addresses, and to see who will be on your ballot and other issues you might get to help decide in your area.

Early voting is already underway in Indiana for Hoosiers interested in casting their vote before Election Day. Visit to learn more about early voting in your area, or to check your voting status and learn more about election security.

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