More socks for veterans

A local veteran helps collect socks for veterans at the Wapello County Veterans Affairs office in this Courier file photo. An entertainer in town Saturday has requested her audience bring a pair of warm socks, a hat or gloves.

OTTUMWA — An upcoming performer at Bridge View Center wants to influence you in more ways than one, though she may not hypnotize you into being generous to veterans.

“Cheryl the Hypnotist” will give ticket holders an exciting experience in which audience volunteers become stars of the show. But as it’s the day before Veterans Day, she’s asking her audience to help with stars of a different type: Wapello County vets.

“I am an Air Force brat,” Cheryl Shagena told the Courier. “My dad retired after a career of 22 years service. I was born on an Air Force base in Illinois.”

Her father died shortly after 9/11.

“I left corporate America and became a hypnotist then. I use my hypnotic powers for good, bringing laughter to a harsh world, creating bonding memories with laughter … and, when I can, I use my platform to help veterans.”

This will be the second time she’s done a hat, sock and glove drive for veterans. BVC and local veteran groups will help collect items brought in by audience members.

“I have two shows scheduled on Nov. 10th, and the bins will be out, available to the public for drop offs between 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. at the entrance,” she said.

The chaplain from the Ottumwa VFW has agreed to help with the distribution of donated winter items; they’ll go to the VA Ottumwa Clinic locally, then excess will go to the Iowa Veterans Home and Iowa VA hospitals.

Shagena said as an incentive, anyone attending the show and donating will be entered in a drawing held after each show for a raffle prize. Stick around, though, because you have to be present to win.

“Bins for holding and transport are being donated for the socks, hats and gloves by my friends.

My expectation is that given the opportunity, Ottumwa and surrounding communities will … be very generous. I believe people want to help but often have no idea how to help. This is an easy way many can help; even just one pair of warm, comfortable socks can make a difference to someone that is going without.”

You may have seen Cheryl the Hypnotist locally; she’s done family shows and more grown-up entertainment in this area: shows for Ottumwa city employees, Batavia Days, Fremont Days, Old Settlers in Corydon and the Louisa County Fair this last year.

Senior staff writer Mark Newman can be contacted at


Born in New England, reporter Mark Newman has lived in Iowa and Nebraska over 20 years, with 12 years as a Courier staff writer. He covered education news, but is now focusing on social issues as well as feature stories of local interest.