If you’d rather not stay home and watch the Rams get trounced by the Saints on Sunday, and if you’re avoiding raking/mowing/blowing all the leaves that have fallen this week, I have a suggestion for spending your afternoon (Nov. 15): the annual Cranksgiving food drive, er, ride. A couple hundred cyclists will set out at noon from Atomic Cowboy, 4140 Manchster Ave. in The Grove, with a map of stores at which they’ll purchase items from a shopping list for Food Outreach. Along the 10- or 25-miles routes, they’ll stock up (in the $10 to $20 price range total) then loop back around to Atomic Cowboy.

If you’d prefer to watch the Rams but want to donate ahead of the ride, there’s a list of drop-off points on the St. Louis BikeWORKS homepage.

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If the weather tomorrow turns out as bad as predicted, it’ll be a great day to be in a nice, warm theater with nice, warm popcorn. Somehow the local theaters seem to have anticipated this, as at least three of them have special freebie deals coming up. The first is Wehrenberg Theaters, which has a Cans Film Festival tomorrow (bring five canned goods and get a pass for a pre-5 p.m. showing). The second is the Tivoli, which will be showing a 45-minute Winnie the Pooh movie at noon as part of The Loop’s Holiday Walk. Admission is one canned good. OK, I know these two are technically NOT free, but you can get some pretty inexpensive canned goods … . 🙂 (While you’re in The Loop, check out a cool photography exhibit at the Star Clipper comics store.)

The other theater is the Roberts Orpheum downtown at 9th and St. Charles, where there are four totally free films showing tomorrow and Saturday, Dec. 8. Tomorrow’s lineup: Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus at 4 p.m. and Gremlins at 7 p.m. Next weekend’s: Miracle on 34th Street at 4 p.m. and A Christmas Story at 7 p.m. Seating starts 30 minutes prior, and it’s first-come, first-seated. If you’re not familiar with the Roberts Orpheum, you’re in for a treat — it’s just the type of vintage-feel theater where these classic movies should be shown.

In the 63118 zip code where we live there are a lot of small food pantries, and over the years we’ve gotten to know a few of the people who run them.  This year I’ve been hearing about more need and fewer donations coming in (probably due to the whole housing situation and the economy).  And this year M. is old enough to understand the whole concept of donating to those less fortunate, so I’ve been keeping an eye out for events that will be both enjoyable for him and also drive home the fact that there are many other people who donate too — hopefully down the road it will instill in him a desire to be part of a giving community.

Some pantries specifically encourage children to visit — our playgroup just went to one at Epiphany UCC — and some community groups also do a great job of encouraging donations from young people.  The Cranksgiving Ride on Sunday (the 18th) is sponsored by one of the latter, BicycleWorks.   The program is mostly centered around teaching kids 9-17 good work ethic via bike- and computer-related classes; this food drive is an offshoot in that it’s a bike ride to stores where participants will buy food.  They’ll then return (with, the organizers hope, around $20 per pedaler worth of goods)  and the haul will be given to local food pantries.

Cyclists depart for the 1- or 3-hour routes at noon from the hq at 4102 Shenandoah. Info is at 314.664.0828 or the Web site.