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Calendar opens election window.

Byline: Jeff Wright The Register-Guard

Barely able to contain your excitement about the upcoming election? Chicago resident and South Eugene High School alum Ben Helphand has just the product for you.

That would be the Election Day Advent Calendar, yours for only $9.99 plus postage.

Helphand says it's civic idealism, not entrepreneurial zeal, that prompted him and co-worker Paul Smith to come up with the calendar. The idea is to get people excited again about democracy.

"My dream is to introduce a new civic ritual," says Helphand, 31. "I'd like to see Election Day calendars telling the story of democracy on refrigerators across the country."

The calendar is modeled after the popular Advent calendar of Christmastime, in which a small window is opened every day in December, culminating in the opening of a larger window on Christmas Day that depicts the birth of Jesus. Some Advent calendars include chocolate.

In the Election Day calendar, 29 windows are opened over the 29 days leading up to Election Day, which is Nov. 7. Behind each window is a famous quote about democracy, or a tidbit about U.S. election history.

Helphand says he got the idea from graduate school, where he learned about the traditional Advent calendar while earning his divinity degree. He says the calendar has sold well, perhaps because it's strictly nonpartisan - an equal number of Democrat and Republican slogans and campaign signs appear.

The one customer complaint: No chocolate. "We considered tiny Lincoln busts of chocolate, but decided against it," Helphand said. "Maybe we'll include stickers in the next one."

HOW TO GET ONE To order, visit www.gerrymander online
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Title Annotation:Elections
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Oct 6, 2006
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