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    A motorcycle driver and passenger were seriously injured when they were struck by a car while riding near the intersection of Main and Bristol streets in Southington around 8:30 p.m. Thursday, according to police.

    The victims were taken to Waterbury Hospital for treatment. It's not clear if they were wearing helmets, or if the other driver was injured.

    Main Street is closed between Bristol and Chestnut streets and will be shut down for the next couple hours while authorities investigate, according to police.

    Avoid the area if possible.


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    Police are investigating after a person was shot on Lenox Avenue in Bridgeport Thursday evening.

    Officers were responding to a report of shots fired on Lenox Avenue around 7 p.m. when they were notified of a gunshot patient at Saint Vincent's Medical Center, according to police.

    Police said the victim had been shot in the shoulder and did not sustain life-threatening injuries.

    Detectives are investigating the shooting.

    No additional information was additionally available.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    Westport police have arrested a man accused of stealing catalytic converters from parking lots near the Saugatuck Train Station and said he could be connected to other thefts in the area.

    Clifford St. Arnault, 35, of East Haven, was arrested around 11:30 a.m. Thursday after police spotted him driving through parking lots near the station. Police said St. Arnault’s truck matched the description of a vehicle suspected in catalytic converter thefts, and officers pulled him over on Saugatuck Avenue.

    They found St. Arnault with just-cut catalytic converters and a reciprocating saw, along with tire rims and motorcycle parts, according to police.

    St. Arnault was arrested and charged with fifth-degree larceny and possession of burglary tools. His bond was set at $5,000.

    Police said he’s a suspect in other catalytic converter thefts and could face additional charges if linked to the crimes.

    Westport police are continuing to investigate along with surrounding police departments.


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    Hartford police have arrested a 39-year-old man who they say was drinking and masturbating in front of young children at a public park Thursday evening.

    Rustam Suleymanov, of Congress Street in Hartford, was charged with public indecency, risk of injury to a minor, second-degree breach of peace and public drinking.

    He's accused of exposing himself to people at Colt Park and touching himself in plain view of children playing in the area, according to police.

    Suleymanov is being held on a $25,000 bond.


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    A 53-year-old motorcyclist is in critical but stable condition after colliding with a fire truck that was responding to a medical emergency in New Haven, according to police at the scene.

    Casper Amodio Jr., of West Haven, was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital for treatment of serious injuries, police said. He was not wearing a helmet and is undergoing a CT scan.

    Police said Amodio was driving northbound on James Street when he collided with a fire truck that had activated lights and sirens and was turning left onto Woolsey Street.

    "There's quite a bit of skid mark that's been left here," said New Haven police spokesman Officer David Hartman. "Interviews with the firefighters indicated that they didn't even see the motorcycle coming."

    Witnesses said the scene was gruesome.

    Danielle Cornelius, who watched the crash happened from her upstairs window, said she saw the motorcycle disappear under the fire truck. The driver went airborne and struck the engine's windshield, she said.

    "It was really, really bad," said Armani Meadows, who lives nearby. "I've never seen [anything like it] and I've worked in the medical field for 14 years."

    The four firefighters onboard the truck were not injured. According to police, the fire truck stayed at the scene and the firefighters provided medical treatment to Amodio while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

    Witnesses told police Amodio was driving fast at the time of the collision. An accident reconstruction team is investigating to determine the cause of the crash.

    Police said the firefighters have been offered counseling through the city's employee assistance program.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    Police are responding to a crash involving a motorcycle and fire truck in New Haven.Police are responding to a crash involving a motorcycle and fire truck in New Haven.

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    A state police trooper suffered a head injury injuries and several fractures when he and another man were struck by a car while picking up a truck bed liner Thursday evening on Interstate 91 northbound in Hartford, according to police.

    Police said the trooper pulled over near exit 33 to help the driver of a pickup after a piece of his bed liner fell onto the highway. The trooper parked his cruiser in the center lane and turned on his emergency lights to shield them from oncoming traffic, then walked over the driver.

    According to police, a car driving northbound at about 50 to 60 mph went around the parked cruiser and struck the trooper and truck driver while they were picking up pieces of bed liner. Both were injured.

    The trooper, who has held his position for eight months, was rushed by ambulance to Hartford Hospital, where's listed in serious but stable condition. State police said at a news conference on Thursday night that the trooper was conscious and preparing for emergency surgery.

    The truck driver was also taken to St. Francis Hospital and is in stable condition, according to police.

    Interstate 91 was closed in both directions near Jennings Road and traffic was backed up for several hours. The State Department of Transportation sent out an alert just after 11:30 p.m., saying the crash scene had been cleared.

    Neither the trooper nor the injured truck driver have been publicly identified. State police spokesman Lt. Paul Vance said the trooper was doing his best to keep everyone safe.

    "It's a trooper's responsibility to ensure safety of motorists on all roads in Connecticut," Vance said. "This trooper was doing everything he could."

    Police said the driver of the offending vehicle is cooperating with investigators. They're reminding motorists to slow down and take caution when approaching an emergency scene.

    No charges have been filed in connection with the crash.



    Photo Credit: Christina Boisvert

    Traffic is stopped on I-91 in both directions at exit 33 in Hartford after a state police trooper was struck by a car, according to police.Traffic is stopped on I-91 in both directions at exit 33 in Hartford after a state police trooper was struck by a car, according to police.

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    Business is busier than ever for some hospitals across North Texas as a baby boom, not so surprisingly, is hitting almost nine months after the ice storm wreaked havoc across the Metroplex.

    "The storm comes, and what else is there to do but stay inside and keep each other company?" said LaToya Scales, a nurse at Baylor Medical Center in Dallas.

    She said it's not uncommon to see more births during the later summer months, but now more than ever, Baylor is bursting at the seems with babies.

    "We're seeing more births. We've had 50 more deliveries in July than we did this time last year," Scales said.

    She said on an average day, doctors will deliver 10 babies per day. Last month, they had 24 deliveries in just one day.

    "We say it's job security. We'll never be out of a job," Scales joked.

    One couple who cozied up during the storm was Monica and Marcus Sais.

    The family had wanted a second child and after years of trying and no luck, but just weeks after the storm, Monica Sais said she got her Christmas present early when she found out she was pregnant.

    Monica Sais said it's not just her. She has at least five friends who are all due within the upcoming weeks.

    "It all makes sense. What else are you going to do when it's cold outside? Snuggle up!" she said.

    This week, she received the perfect present in the form of her newborn son, Luca.

    Weighing in an 9 pounds 2 ounces, he has a new nickname his parents might keep to themselves.

    "We can call him that: Luca Winter Baby Boom," Monica Sais said.



    Photo Credit: NBC 5 News

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    One Brooklyn man is hoping to make a stand against subpar breakfast sandwiches in midtown Manhattan and is raising money to send out instructional pamphlets to the area’s delis and bodegas.

    Journalist Joseph Checkler launched a Kickstarter campaign to print and mail recipe suggestions to every business that sells egg sandwiches between 33rd and 55th streets from Park Avenue to Ninth Avenue.

    “I will save the adequate-but-underachieving NYC egg sandwich by delivering instructional leaflets to all Midtown egg-sandwich makers,” Checkler said on the campaign's Kickstarter page.

    He briefly outlined his suggestions for improving the breakfast sandwiches, recommending that cooks fry the eggs for shorter periods, use fresh sausage or bacon rather than reheated meat and put up to three slices of cheese on each sandwich.

    Checkler said he didn’t want to offend cooks at delis and bodegas across the city -- he just wants to improve the quality of one of the Big Apple’s breakfast staples.

    “I just think that at some point, certain delis started making sandwiches in a less delicious way and I want to revisit the time where they were more delicious,” he said.

    The fundraising campaign, launched on July 24, has already hit its $310 goal. Checkler said on the page that for additional funding, he would send his pamphlets to more restaurants in Manhattan.

    He said he also plans to for similar campaigns in the city’s other four boroughs.


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    A brutal carjacking and hit-and-run crash that killed three children nearly two weeks ago has claimed another victim: the kids' mother.

    Keisha Williams died just before 10 p.m. Thursday night at Temple University Hospital where she had been undergoing trauma care since the July 25 incident, Philadelphia Police said.

    The 34-year-old mother was hit by an out-of-control SUV, that had been carjacked minutes earlier, at the intersection of Germantown and Allegheny Avenues. She, her three children and a family friend were selling fruit to raise money to build a playground.

    All three children -- 15-year-old Keiearra Williams, 10-year-old Joseph Thomas Reed and 7-year-old brother Terrence Moore -- were killed while the family friend, 65-year-old Thelma Brown, survived.

    Williams remained in a coma after the crash, officials said. It appears she did not know her children had been killed. She leaves behind two other children who were not involved in the crash.

    Jonathan Rosa, 19, and Cornelius Crawford, 23, are already charged with second-degree murder in the deaths children and face other charges for allegedly carjacking and sexually assaulting the real estate agent before running down a family selling fruit on the sidewalk.

    Prosecutors say they plan to add an additional murder charge in light of Williams' passing.

    Homicide Capt. James Clark said Crawford and Rosa wanted to commit a robbery when they forced a real estate agent into her white Toyota SUV at gunpoint at 6th and Cumberland Streets around 11 a.m. that Friday. They then took off. Inside the truck, the Realtor was sexually assaulted as the suspects sped through the streets of the Tioga section of North Philadelphia.

    After one of the SUV's tires blew, the vehicle jumped the curb and slammed directly into the family as they stood at their fruit stand. 

    The children were laid to rest earlier this week. The funeral was paid for by Philadelphia 76ers legend Charles Barkley, according to authorities.

    Rosa admitted to being involved in the carjacking, but denies driving the car and sexually assaulting the realtor, according to his attorney. Crawford has not made any statements and has a court appointed attorney.

    Both are scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing next Wednesday.



    Photo Credit: NBC10.com

    Keisha Williams, 34, died two weeks after being run down by two alleged carjackers along a Philadelphia sidewalk.Keisha Williams, 34, died two weeks after being run down by two alleged carjackers along a Philadelphia sidewalk.

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    Darien police have arrested a woman after a DNA test linked her to cocaine-covered hypodermic needles left at a local elementary school.

    Students and staff of Holmes Elementary School in Darien found six hypodermic needles with cocaine residue on school grounds on three occasions in April and May.

    The State of Connecticut Forensic Lab studied three of the needles and found the DNA of Anne Curtis, 32, who lives on Hoyt Street, near the school, police said.

    Curtis turned herself in to Darien Police on Friday after learning that there was a warrant for her arrest. 

    She was charged with three counts of risk of injury to a minor and was held on a $10,000.00 bond. 

    She was taken to Stamford Superior Court and will be arraigned today.

    It is not clear if she has an attorney for this case.
     



    Photo Credit: Darien Police

    Anne Curtis is accused of leaving cocaine-covered hypodermic needles at an elementary school.Anne Curtis is accused of leaving cocaine-covered hypodermic needles at an elementary school.

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    Some unsuspecting New Yorkers were treated to a surprise performance from the megahit Broadway musical "The Lion King" when cast members took over a subway car and sang "Circle of Life." 

    The impromptu performance happened on June 28 while the cast was taking a break between shows, though the video was only posted to YouTube on Tuesday by cast member Jamal Lee Harris. 

    The video shows the plainclothed actors getting on an A train at 59th Street and busying themselves at first with typical subway activities: reading books, listening to music, scrolling through cellphones.

    Then the first telltale notes of "Circle of Life" ring out, and cast members stationed up and down the car join in.

    Fellow subway riders initially appear confused and surprised, then delighted before bursting into loud applause and cheers at the end of the song. 

    In April, the Australian cast of "The Lion King" put on a similar performance on a flight leaving Brisbane.

    Based on the popular Disney film, "The Lion King" is the fifth longest-running show and the highest grossing show in Broadway history, according to The Broadway Box.


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    Six residents of a group home in Berlin were taken to the hospital as a precaution after the car they were in backed up over a stone wall and got stuck.

    Police said the driver of a Dodge Caravan got out and the van rolled back, went part of the way over a stone wall by a garden on Simms Road and got stuck.

    Officials did not immediately know if the van was left in gear or somehow shifted into gear.

    Firefighters chained the car to back of a fire truck to keep the vehicle from falling a few feet to the ground below.

    No one reported being injured, but the group home residents were taken to the hospital to be evaluated as a precaution.

    The van has been towed away.
     



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    A car got stuck on a wall in Berlin and six people were taken to the hospital as a precaution.A car got stuck on a wall in Berlin and six people were taken to the hospital as a precaution.

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    A New Britain mom is accused of driving erratically and under the influence with her two young children unrestrained in the car early Thursday morning.

    Police stopped Jasmine Morales, 31, at North and Sexton streets in New Britain at 12:40 a.m. Her 2- and 4-year-old children were unrestrained in the back seat, and the officer said the car smelled of alcohol and marijuana.

    Morales failed roadside field sobriety tests and was arrested, according to police.

    She was charged with driving under the influence and two counts of risk of injury.
     



    Photo Credit: New Britain Police

    Jasmine Morales is accused of driving under the influence with two young children in the car.Jasmine Morales is accused of driving under the influence with two young children in the car.

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    The road was closed at Park and Chapel streets in New Haven after a car rolled over on Friday morning.

    A silver vehicle flipped onto its roof. Minor injuries are reported, according to police.

    The roads have since reopened.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    This happened at Park and Chapel streets in New Haven.This happened at Park and Chapel streets in New Haven.

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    A La Jolla lab is on the front lines of the fight against the Ebola Virus.

    The outbreak in West Africa has killed at least 961 people and prompted the World Health Organization to declare an international public health emergency.

    On the other side of the world from ground zero, researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla are looking at how the Ebola virus attaches to parts of the body and how it multiplies and replicates.

    Dr. Erica Ollmann Saphire is part of the team spanning 25 labs across the globe that is making images of how the virus works.

    Their work that has led to a medicine taken by two Americans infected with Ebola. The Sorrento Valley lab Mapp Bio used the images created at Scripps to come up with the experimental medicine called Z-Mapp.

    Saphire works as director with the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Consortium, a global partnership with labs at Tulane University, Harvard and on the ground in Sierra Leone. She spoke to NBC 7 Thursday about the virus she’s worked on for 10 years.

    Saphire says the cocktail of antibodies and proteins worked in mice and primates but wasn't supposed to be tested on humans until 2015.

    "I know exactly what’s in it, how it works. I would take it myself in a heartbeat," she said.

    While ZMapp provides hope, the director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the federal government is looking "very carefully" at experimental Ebola treatments. It's too early to tell whether they are helpful or even safe.

    Even so, Mapp Bio is ramping up production, Saphire said, and they’re working with all the regulatory agencies involved.

    “The logistics of making more are straightforward and solvable,” Saphire said.

    The antibodies are made using tobacco leaves that are then put into a giant juicer. Scientists then strain the antibodies from the juice.

    “That whole process would take about two or three months,” she said, adding that researchers need “time and the funds to do it and are expediting the process. You can believe it’s a priority.”

    The antibodies in Z-Mapp were developed by Mapp Bio, the U.S. Army and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

    Mapp Bio has been operating for 11 years. In all, there are nine employees.

    ZMapp is not FDA-approved. Its use was granted under the FDA's "compassionate use" clause, only given in extraordinary circumstances, and there are only a handful of doses of it available.

    The two American aid workers who were flown to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta and received doses of ZMapp – Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol – are said to be getting a little better every day after their treatment.

    The current outbreak in West Africa is the largest and longest ever recorded of Ebola, which has a death rate of about 50 percent and has so far killed at least 961 people.

    The WHO declared similar emergencies for the swine flu pandemic in 2009 and for polio in May.


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    A Bridgeport police officer is facing federal charges after allegedly using excessive force while making an arrest in 2011 and the police department has suspended him without pay.

    Bridgeport police officer Clive Higgins, 48, who has been with the department since 2002, appeared in court Friday. He is accused of police brutality in a case that was caught on camera.

    Immediately following Higgins' arrest, the Bridgeport Police Department placed him on unpaid suspension, according to police spokesman Bill Kaempffer.

    "We expect a lot from our officers and the overwhelming majority of our officers do their job extraordinarily well," said Bridgeport Payor Bill Finch and Chief Joseph Gaudett, in a statement Friday. "But when they violate the public trust, they need to be held accountable."

    On May 20, 2011, two other Bridgeport police officers were chasing a man suspected of having a gun when Higgins heard radio transmissions asking for backup, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

    Higgins responded to the scene as the chase neared Beardsley Park. When he arrived, the person involved – later identified as Orlando Lopez – had left his van and was running from police, with two officers in pursuit.

    One officers shot Lopez with a stun gun, knocking him down, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

    As Lopez was lying on the ground, Higgins approached the suspect and kicked him in the head and neck area, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

    Lopez, of Bridgeport, filed a lawsuit against Higgins and two other officers, claiming police brutality, in January 2013. The suit was filed days after a video of the arrest surfaced on YouTube.

    Higgins is charged with violating an individual's civil rights by using unreasonable force during an arrest. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.



    Photo Credit: YouTube

    Bridgeport Police officer Clive Higgins, 48, who has been with the department since 2002, is expected to appear in court in New Haven. He is accused of police brutality in a case that was caught on camera.Bridgeport Police officer Clive Higgins, 48, who has been with the department since 2002, is expected to appear in court in New Haven. He is accused of police brutality in a case that was caught on camera.

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    Police arrested a teen and a 31-year-old man after receiving several complaints about masked people driving ATVs erratically and throwing rocks at cars in East Haven.

    Police said the incidents were reported on Thursday in the area of Main Street and Forbes Place in the center of East Haven. When police searched the area, they found the drivers on Foxon Road and apprehended a 15-year-old boy after he pulled into the Sunoco Station on Frontage Road, police said.

    Vincent Verderame, 31, was driving a car behind the ATV drivers and videotaping them, according to police.

    The juvenile was charged with reckless endangerment in the second degree, breach of peace in the second degree, reckless driving, criminal mischief in the third degree and several other motor vehicle charges. Police seized the ATV.
     
    When police stopped Verderame, they realized that there was an active probation violation arrest warrant and took him into custody.

    He was released after posting a $5,000 court- set bond.

    He is due in court in New Haven on Aug. 20.



    Photo Credit: East Haven Police

    Vincent Verderame and a teen were arrested after police investigated reports of ATVs being driven erratically and people throwing rocks at cars.Vincent Verderame and a teen were arrested after police investigated reports of ATVs being driven erratically and people throwing rocks at cars.

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    Authorities have identified persons of interest in connection with the Brooklyn Bridge white flag mystery, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton tells NBC 4 New York, but the city's top cop won't say when arrests may be executed. 

    Officials had said they were looking for four people captured on video entering the Brooklyn Bridge around the time two bleached-white American flags were planted on the span July 22. They were found fluttering that morning from poles perched on the stone supports where two American flags are normally positioned, confusing passersby, who weren't sure if it was a publicity stunt or something more nefarious, and stumping police. 

    Bratton said police believe they know what happened -- and who did it.

    "We believe we know who a number of the people are that engaged in that action and that investigation is moving forward and is consuming a lot of investigatory resources as it should," Bratton told NBC 4 New York. "That event should not have happened."

    The police commissioner also said the investigation indicated there was "no terrorist threat" involved.

    Investigators have been running license plate numbers, scouring social media, examining cellphone transmissions and collecting DNA as part of their investigation. 

    The high-quality flags, measuring about 11 feet about 20 feet, were made out of white linen, and the stars were individually stitched on, according to a senior law enforcement official. There were also large aluminum pans affixed over the bridge lights that normally illuminate the flags, secured with zip ties.

    The NYPD obtained a small amount of DNA from the flags or tin pans that investigators planned to test. It wasn't clear if the results from that DNA test helped police identify the persons of interest.

    The bridge is one of the most heavily secured landmarks in the city, constantly monitored by surveillance cameras.

    The American flags fly from above the pillars year-round and are replaced by transportation workers when they become frayed about every two months, police said. They are lit from the bottom by a lamp at the base of each tower at night. 

    More than 120,000 vehicles, 4,000 pedestrians and 3,100 bicyclists cross the Brooklyn Bridge every day, said the city's Department of Transportation, which maintains the crossing.



    Photo Credit: AP

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    Teens across the country are now applying a tradition once reserved for brides-to-be and expectant mothers to another life milestone: going away to college.

    Faced with rising costs and more options for dorm decor, thousands of students a year are creating online registries asking family and friends to help complete their shopping lists. 

    Triniti Henry hadn't even decided which college she would attend when she started thinking about all the things she'd need in her freshman year. As she weighed her choices, the 18-year-old compiled a list on her phone of must-haves for transitioning from home to dorm life.

    "After I was finished I just looked over and I kept scrolling through everything," the Oak Park, Illinois,  resident said. "I was surprised at how long it was, how much stuff I need."

    So she logged on to MyRegistry.com, where she filled a graduation gift wish list with everything from hangers to iPhone speakers. She sent the link to family as part of an invitation to a graduation party.

    The teen's mother said the registry was helpful both for organizing their shopping list and giving family the opportunity to pitch in as she prepares to send her only child to college. 

    "She received scholarships and everything, thank God for that, but with everything else, we just needed that help so we were like, yes we need to do a party and invite people and have them help," Tabitha Henry said. 

    The Henrys aren't alone in feeling the purchasing pinch of going to college. Average spending on furniture, supplies and electronics is expected to hit more than $900 per family this year, an increase of 10 percent from 2013, according to the National Retail Federation's  annual "Back-to-College Survey." Businesses, meanwhile, see an opportunity to cash in on what the retailers'group expects to be a $48.4 billion back-to-college spending season.

    "They need so many things and when they make a list it’s good for everybody," said Nancy Lee, president of MyRegistry.com. "It’s good for the retailers because the things get purchased, but they’re not getting hit with returns. ... It’s good for the student because they were able to specify what they wanted."

    Lee, whose site allows users to register for a wedding, a baby, or create a general registry for an occasion of their choosing, has seen an uptick in registry use by the college-bound. Two years ago, the idea of creating a graduation or school supply page wasn't even on the radar of top executives. Now, she estimates thousands of registries are created for that purpose each year.

    Target launched its own college registry in June. The site attracted thousands of users in the first month live, spokeswoman Jenna Reck said. Reck attributes the interest in part to the young shopper's desire to incorporate more personal style into their purchases.

    "On the college side, we’re definitely seeing a trend toward personalization, people not wanting a boring white comforter," she said. "They want a dorm room that reflects their personality."

    The chance to customize her dorm style -- and hopefully the graduation gifts she'd receive -- drove Christine Campbell to give Target's registry a try. The decorating and interior design fan, who lives in the Philadelphia suburb of Harleysville, filled her site with extra-long sheets, decorative cork-board letters and throw pillows adorned with giraffes, flowers and foxes.

    She figured creating a college-specific wish list for things she'd need in her first year at Liberty University increased her chances of getting gifts she actually wanted, instead of cash, which she would likely save. Plus, using Target's service, she said, was "not as awkward as sending out a wedding one when I’m not getting married."

    As someone who came to age in a time of online shopping, Facebook and Pinterest, sharing the link with family and friends felt natural.

    "We’ve been sharing our whole lives so why not just share something we want instead of you trying to guess what we want," she said.

    While that view may be common among young consumers, use of registries for college is still a new, and relatively rare, concept. Some caution that asking family and friends to foot the bill for decorations to spruce up the traditionally spartan dorm experience could be seen as extravagant or entitled, especially among older generations. 

    "If you go into a registry and create this category, you might come across as being selfish and a bit arrogant to ask for it," said Lars Perner, a professor of marketing at the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business.

    Those feelings may deter people from being the first among a group of friends or family to give the idea a try, he said. But changes in etiquette, and the popularity and ease of online shopping, could lead use to become more common and accepted. 

    "Norms change over generations certainly and certainly this generation is much more brazen than previous generations," he said. "So maybe this is the new norm."

    The registry tradition itself is fairly new in the U.S. In 1935, Macy's launched what it says was the country's first registry experience, a "Brides House" on the eighth floor of its Chicago store. The section was fully furnished and staffed with "advisor to the bride," intended to "give the bride suggestions on her new home from kitchen to bedroom," Macy's says.

    The concept spread, with more stores, and later websites, offering services tailored to both for weddings and other less traditional occasions, like getting a dog or finalizing a divorce.

    "It's gotten almost whimsical," said Barbara Kahn, director of the Jay H. Baker Retailing Center at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business. "But this notion of back to school and this milestone of going to college is back in keeping with the original premise."

    Like starting a new home with a spouse or welcoming a first child, leaving for college has "become an orchestrated shopping experience triggered on this change of life event," Kahn said. Unlike other similar turning points, such as a major move, starting college creates both a purchasing need and a sense of sentimentality.

    "My prediction is this will catch on because this one does make sense," Kahn said. "You really want to wish the kids a good start. It's a life-changing event and there's just so much of an emotional thing."

    Lee, the MyRegistry.com executive, believes the ease of sharing and buying items online, as well as shifts in gift-giving etiquette, have also paved the way for the trend.

    "If somebody wants to get a gift back in the olden days we would smile politely and either return it, regift it or stick it in the closet," she said. "I think people are starting to be more practical."

    On an even more practical level, the rising expense of school is driving use. That was the case for Triana Rivera. Even with scholarships and GI Bill funds helping cover the Georgia teen's tuition costs at Mercer University, the tab for staples like a comforter and a water pitcher for her dorm fridge added up.

    "That really sent me in the real world, that not everything my parents can buy," she said of seeing her shopping list.

    So she created a registry online, filled with basic supplies and a few frills, and and sent it to family who live as far as Colorado and Spain. It wasn't long before her desired items started to arrive, allowing the aspiring chemistry and psychology double major to focus on her dream of becoming a doctor instead of paying for the things she needs.

    "Actually getting that package at the door," she said. "It made me really relieved that I could rely on a website to get what I wanted."

     

     

     

     



    Photo Credit: Getty Images/Fuse

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    The anticipation of starting life as a college freshman can leave even the most confident student with unanswered questions before move-in day. Here are freshman year survival tips shared by NBC viewers on Facebook and other experts.

    Before You Go...

    Mary Jo Mason, director of counseling services at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut, said that in the coming weeks before college parents can help provide a smooth transition for their students by giving them more responsibilities.  

    "I recommend that they allow their student to start making their own appointments for anything, doesn’t matter whether it’s a haircut or a doctor," Mason said. "What this will do for you is help you learn to advocate for yourself."
     
    This "transferable skill" can play a role if a student needs to ask a professor for help in class.  

    Get Enough Sleep — Dust Off That Alarm Clock

    "If there was only a small bit of advice I could give to students it would be get enough sleep, eat correctly and get some kind of exercise," Mason said.

    At-home routines may fall to the wayside, so Mason encourages students to use their phones to stay organized. But use a real alarm clock to wake up for morning classes, she said.

    "I know all kids these days use phones as an alarm, but you can turn that off in a heartbeat and never even act like you heard it," she said. 

    And for those freshmen prone to pressing snooze, "don't sign up for those 8 a.m. classes" said NBC Bay Area viewer Todd Legate, a graduate of California State University, East Bay. "You're kidding yourself if you think you're going to go."

    Time Management is Key

    Mason says to use any free time constructively by planning assignments or attending group meetings. Students who can't manage their time may have a harder time adjusting.

    "Students who are not very good at managing their time struggle because [they think] 'Oh I’ve got plenty of time to do this,'" and could eventually fall behind or procrastinate with school work.

    Organizing and planning for assignments will ease the academic transition. But NBC Bay Area viewer Mollie Pedigo says if a student is struggling in class, "don't be afraid to ask for help."
    "Take advantage of your professors' office hours," said the graduate of Humboldt State University in Arcata, California. "They set aside those hours specifically to be there to help their students."

    Get Involved, Have an Open Mind

    Allison McComb, drector of the First Year Experience at the University of California Los Angeles, said that students not only make new friends by joining clubs, but find a sense of community while acclimating to college life.

    "Finding a place where they feel really comfortable is incredibly important to their overall success," McComb said. "It is well known that students that connect have a better sense of themselves and a feeling of community."

    NBC Bay Area viewer Noelle Richard Mayor, a graduate of Loyola Marymount University Los Angeles, advises students to join as many clubs as possible, even if that means stepping out of a comfort zone.

    "It's a great way to meet friends and feel more at home," she said "Clubs like the Hawaiian club, which I joined even though I'm not from Hawaii, allowed me to experience some fun parties and events."

    McComb encourages students to be open-minded to the different types of personalities and backgrounds they encounter. No matter how different people think they are, "there is a base level of understanding that everyone's going through an experience, and just trying to figure it out," she explained.
    Before leaving home, a student's nerves and first-year jitters may seem to define their personality. Not so by the end of the second semester.

    "I think they come in and they still kind of look and sound “high school,” but by the end of the year they’re talking like old pros. They realize how to navigate," she said. 

     
    Here are more tips from college graduates around the country: 

    Telissa Kidwell, University of California, Santa Cruz: "Study abroad for a semester, and take advantage of internships that give college credits!"

    Monika Regete Hege, Mission College: "Talk with a school counselor every semester to ensure you are on track. Cultivate the relationship. They should be your advocate if a problem"

    Andria Jimenez, Jose City College: "Avoid fast food!! No matter how stressed you are or how cheap it is."

    Alison Crowley Short, Dean College, "Meet and hangout with people from outside the town you come from. Some may be friends for life."

    Sara Sanger, Sonoma State University, "Don't get those easy credit cards they offer students!"

    Amanda Aldama, San Jose State University: "Familiarize yourself with the campus resources (I.e. Career center, counseling, print shop, cultural center, computer labs, writing center, etc.) as soon as possible. Sign up for their e-newsletters if they have them."

    Tiffany Orozco Vierra, San Jose State University: "I highly recommend taking a careers/counseling class your first year. Especially if you are not sure of a major."

    Mellissia Franklin DeFilippis, University of Phoenix: "Stay focused on the reason you're there."

    Dawna Houston, University of Maine: "Be prepared to pay for laundry! Learn how to do laundry before you head to college!"  


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