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When is Winter Solstice 2012?

Hint: It's the same day as the so-called Mayan apocalypse -- the end of the world -- is supposed to hit. Here are some things you can do to celebrate the winter solstice and the unending of the world.

If you listen to NASA, there's no need to worry: the Mayan Apocalypse isn't going to happen Friday as kind of scheduled.

Like clockwork, though, the winter solstice is right around the corner, Dec. 21 and 22, that is, when the sun appears at noon at its lowest altitude above the horizon. Broken down, that's the time the Earth's North Pole is tipped farthest from the sun. Broken down even more: It's the shortest day of the year.

As this calculator on sunrise and sunset shows, daylight in central Iowa shrinks to 9 hours, 9 minutes, 33 seconds. Out in eastern Iowa, the day's even shorter: 9 hours, 7 minutes, 9 seconds.

So, providing we're all still around, how do we make the most of a short day while celebrating the unending of the world? Well, one way is to make the most of what we have by giving back -- paying it forward, if you will.

In Urbandale, there's no shortage of volunteer opportunities. Here are some of them:

Goodwill Industries of Central Iowa

Food Bank of Iowa

Capax Infiniti Housing Inc

Adopt-A-Flowerbed

Adopt-A-Trail / Park

City Board or Commission 

Police Reserve Unit

Urbandale Community Action Network (UCAN)

Urbandale Fire Department

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