By Ashley Whitmer
Oxford veterans enjoyed an early Valentine’s Day present as Girl Scout Troop 13616 and RSVP volunteers visited the Mississippi State Veterans Home in Oxford and delivered 155 Valentine’s Day cards.The Veterans Home was a lively place on Tuesday as the Girl Scouts and RSVP volunteers went from room to room, delivering handmade Valentine’s Day cards to the veterans, and thanking them for their service.
“I like meeting the people and like seeing their reactions when we give them their cards,” said Madalyn Sullivan, a junior member of Girl Scout Troop 13616.
The Veterans look forward to the Girl Scouts coming back each year to deliver these cards and candy, as some have built friendships with Troop 13616 over the years.
“One thing that I think is super special about this project is it honors our Veterans, and I don’t know that there’s many projects out there that could be more important than honoring our Veterans,” said Shannon Sullivan, troop leader for Girl Scout Troop 13616. “The really special part about this project is not the cards and candy, but the opportunity it gives the Girl Scouts and volunteers to talk to the veterans, hear their stories and experiences, and get to know them.”
This is the third year that RSVP, in coordination with Girl Scout Troop 13616, has hosted the event at the Mississippi State Veterans Home and it is something that is anticipated every year.
“My favorite experience is getting to see everybody so happy about the cards and all together for Valentine’s Day,” said Ava Lee Joiner, junior member of Girl Scout Troop 13616.
The annual Valentine’s for Veterans event is planned to carry on for years to come with Troop 13616 and RSVP.
“I think it’s just an overall great opportunity for RSVP, the veterans and the Girl Scouts because it all loops in with one another,” said Marlee Carpenter, the volunteer representative for RSVP and volunteer coordinator for LOU Volunteer Connection. “You have like four generations of community members and volunteers who are working together as one just to provide a happy day.”
Out of the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance, we are humbly reminded of the impact of volunteering. When Americans come together in service, we accomplish great things.
CNCS staff joined volunteers across the country who came out to help communities clean up, pack meals, and thank first responders, military veterans, and others. These acts of service unite us and reinforce volunteering habits that will be passed down for generations.
What's even better? You can serve year-round. National service benefits the community and those who serve. Help someone today, create sustainable change, or leave a legacy, while you gain new skills and improve your well-being.
Regardless of your age or availability, there's a service opportunity for you. Check out our 12 Easy Ways to Volunteer.
Local First Responders Honored During 9/11 Memorial Luncheon Wednesday
By Alyssa Schnugg
Eighteen years ago, Sept. 11 started out much like any other. Firefighters and police officers reported for their shifts. Coffee pots peculated while subways filled up with people going to work in New York City and Washington D.C.
However, Sept. 11, 2001, didn’t stay an ordinary day for long.
Almost 3,000 people died, including 415 firefighters and law enforcement officers after terrorists hijacked three planes, crashing them into the Twin Towers and Pentagon. A fourth plane crashed before being able to reach its intended target.
On Wednesday, which also started out much like any other day, first responders in Oxford and Lafayette County were reminded how much they were appreciated every day during a Sept. 11 Memorial Lunch sponsored by the Retired Senior Volunteer Program at the Oxford Conference Center.
Pastor Fish Robinson serves as chaplain for Oxford, Lafayette and University police departments, as well as the city and county fire departments – where he also serves as a volunteer firefighter. He offered prayer and words of praise and comfort to all the first responders in the room.
“Immediately, men and women went forth into action and ran toward one of the most devastating events of our time,” he said. “9/11 is a reminder for us that when we are called, it might cost us everything, but the answer is always ‘yes.’ … Whether it’s 3 a.m. on Christmas morning or 99 degrees on July 4 with 100 percent humidity, these men and women run toward the danger.”
Also speaking at the luncheon was Lafayette County Supervisor Mike Roberts, Mayor Robyn Tannehill and University of Mississippi Interim Chancellor Larry Sparks.
The first responders were treated to lunch by Taylor Grocery. Winchester sponsored the event and the Conference Center donated the meeting space.
I am a senior at Lafayette High School, the captain of the swim team and a member of the shooting sports team. I currently serve as the 2020 Senior Class President, and as an officer in several other school organizations dedicated to community service, I am excited to promote the LOU Volunteer Connection to the LHS student body.
I like to get my hands dirty, create or join projects, set goals, execute and actually see the impact of a job well done. I think it is important for students to have access to volunteer opportunities so they can also recognize the impact they can have on a life and our community.
As a student, I understand the struggle of locating and maintaining service hours for organizations and academic requirements. With that knowledge, I hope to utilize this position bring awareness to LHS students and to encourage new ways and ideas to serve.
My family encourages me to serve others, and they have shown me time and time again how to put others before myself. I am excited to showcase all the good things Oxford has to offer because, I have lived in Oxford my entire life, and at one time, had a desire to “get outta town”.
But, after traveling all over the US and spending time abroad, I can truly say there is no better place to have grown up. This motivates me to serve the LOU Community to keep Oxford the place where I want to come back. It is true when they say, “We get to live here.”
and I am one of the Oxford High School Ambassadors for the LOU Volunteer Connection and a senior at OHS. I have always had a passion for giving back to the community and helping others, especially the Oxford community. Oxford is a big part of my life and I strive to help make it a better place each day.
While this is my first year as an ambassador, I am not new to the volunteer organizations. I serve at More than a Meal, helped pack Love Packs, am a certified peer health educator and an active member in many volunteer clubs at OHS such as Beyond Our Walls, Anchor Club, Key Club, and Student Ambassadors. Beyond these organizations, I am also the sports editor for the Charger newspaper, a Diamond Girl, a member of R.I.S.E. Oxford High, and serve as Senior Class Secretary among other things.
I am dedicated to making Oxford a home for everyone and am excited to be a part of the Volunteer Connection and help the LOU community; because everyone deserves a loving home.
I am so excited to serve as an LOU Volunteer Connection ambassador to represent Oxford High School. I am currently a senior and serve as my high school varsity dance team captain. I love my giving back and volunteering with my church, MS Critterz and Operation Christmas Child. Being a part of Volunteer Connection will give me the chance to showcase my favorite organizations and dive deep into the needs of others.
I love that there are always so many unique opportunities to give back to our community and I love helping out with as many as possible! I am most excited to grow community involvement, pay it forward to future generations and encourage more students to get involved with a wonderful organization like Volunteer Connection!
I am super ecstatic and honored to promote volunteerism in our community. Being one of three representatives from Oxford High School, I will make sure I alert my peers of upcoming volunteer opportunities and inspire them to become an active member in our community.
I believe giving back has many great benefits for the volunteer, too! Volunteering broadens your perspective, teaches leadership qualities and creates vocal, confident advocates.
I can’t wait to collaborate with others who contribute positivity to the LOU community and help match volunteers with all our hardworking organizations.
...the Lafayette High School Ambassador to the Lafayette-Oxford-University Volunteer Connection and a senior at Lafayette High School. Volunteering has been a big part of my life since freshman year of high school. I find it to be a beneficial and enriching experience.
Originally from Desoto County, I would visit family in Oxford when I was little. Between the Grove on game days and the Square on the weekends, I fell in love with this place. Not only is Oxford beautiful with its postcard scenes, the community is so welcoming and close.
Before living in Oxford, I lived all over the south, from El Paso, Texas, to Newport News, Virginia, and Olive Branch, Mississippi. While in El Paso, my father served at his final duty station in the Army before retiring in January 2017. We decided to move to Oxford, and shortly after, I started volunteering with the Oxford Community Market. It was there that I learned the importance of community; I learned what service was to me and why it was important to buy produce locally and support local farmers.
I have also volunteered for the Jay for Mississippi lieutenant gubernatorial campaign, More Than a Meal, Oxford Film Festival, and Mississippi Critterz. I am active in my school, being the founder of the Speech and Debate team, captain of the Cross Country team, and a member of Mu Alpha Theta, National Honor Society, and National Beta Club.
I am committed to bring these experiences and my passion to benefit Volunteer Connection and the Oxford community.
I am an Oxford native, junior marketing major at The University of Mississippi and ambassador for LOU Volunteer Connection. I happily serve alongside of our Volunteer Coordinator and other student volunteers from Oxford High School and Lafayette High School.
I am honored to have the opportunity to raise awareness for all nonprofit organizations in our community and to promote volunteerism for not only my peers at the University of Mississippi but also in my community.
I love giving back to our community, my home. I believe home is where the heart is and every act of service is an act of love. Every volunteer opportunity we complete is an opportunity to spread love and positivity throughout our community.
Join me in our community by leading future generations with experience, promoting volunteerism and getting things done!
...and I am a second year ambassador for the LOU Volunteer Connection. My role is to serve, promote and advocate for organizations in our community. I support our community and encourage other volunteers by putting boots on the ground. I’ve found my place in several organizations and special events- celebrating service and supporting MS Critterz during National Volunteer Week, encouraging creativity with tissue paper flowers to OPC day campers, or even just being a smiling, familiar face to represent past, current and future local volunteers. I’ve been in this position since January, and I have loved getting to play a bigger role in this awesome organization!
I am originally from Gulfport, MS, but Oxford has been my home for the past four years. I just graduated from Ole Miss in May with my bachelors in pharmaceutical sciences. But, won’t completely finish for another three years of pharmacy school- 1 year in Oxford, and 2 years in Jackson at the Medical Center. I am very thankful for one more year of Rice and Spice, game days, tulips on campus in the spring, and Christmas lights on the Square in December.
I really became involved with the Oxford community last year - I started pharmacy school and I was encouraged by faculty to go out, find something I’m passionate about, and serve others. So that’s exactly what I did! I found that I love getting involved with literally anything I can. It is so fun and rewarding to be able to meet so many new people and learn so much about different nonprofits that I didn’t even know existed here in Oxford, all while making a difference. I was able to get plugged into all these opportunities through Volunteer Connection!
I encourage you to go out and see where you can make a change - and Volunteer Connection is always here to help play a role in helping you find somewhere you can rock!
By John Davis
Oxford Park Commission
Even before Will St. Amand opened up the portable food carrier, he wanted to know about his friend. For a man who has been serving the community for decades with the Meals on Wheels program, St. Amand is a comforting factor for many.
His face is friendly and inviting. He offers great knowledge to those he visits with, and he is beyond reliable for RSVP, which helps staff the program. Meals on Wheels started in America in 1954. The program originated in England in 1943 after many had lost their homes during the bombing blitz of World War II. Back then, the Women’s Volunteer Service for Civil Defense delivered meals to those that were unable to take care of themselves. St. Amand got involved with the program as soon as it arrived in Oxford. He currently picks up the meals at the Stone Center. When he first started, the meals were at the basement next to city hall on the Square. He couldn’t remember the exact year he first started, but RSVP has been involved with the program since it started 46 years ago.
“They used to bring the meals in long trays and you would scoop it out and we would put it into each of the containers from there,” St. Amand said.
Before I-Phones and other devices that could help navigate, St. Amand used to travel to see people using landmarks. He has used water towers, former mailboxes and house colors to deliver the food. The number of people he has delivered food to has varied over the years. The route he is currently on only has six. The most he remembers delivering on a route was 28, and that took him out west of Oxford. For St. Amand, there is a ton of enjoyment involved with delivering meals.
“I get more out of this than they do. I get to see people in their own home. People are very intent on getting the meal, but they don’t want to drive to get it,” St. Amand. “Sometimes the exchanges are practically null and other times there is a lot of discussion. People have problems, and I think RSVP is a partial solution to some of those problems. This allows them to stay in their home for as long as possible.”
By John Davis
Oxford Park Commission
The noise level at the Mississippi State Veterans Home was a little higher than normal Monday. When 10 girl scouts stop in to drop of Valentine’s Day cards, it’s hard to keep the sounds of excitement down too much.
Serving the community is something the leaders of Brownie Girl Scout Troop 13616 are always interested in. So, when Marlee Carpenter, the Lafayette County RSVP Representative, called Shannon Sullivan about the Valentine’s for Vets program, everything clicked and fell perfectly into place.
“We have done other things in the community and we are all about helping the community, always looking for opportunities,” said Sullivan, who added that 140 cards were made by the girls. “Each one of them decorated them differently and put their own personality on it. They’re very creative and used to doing crafts, but they’ve also visited the veteran’s home before and they have a connection and they were glad to come back and do something special for them around Valentine’s Day.”
Carpenter, and members of RSVP, joined the girls at Monday’s drop off event. She was also in the activity center when the group made them.
“There were a couple of different special days that helped us plan Valentine’s for Vets. National Mentoring Month, our 45 Days of Service celebration and Valentine’s Day all came together for the perfect activity,” Carpenter said. “What better way to spread love around our community and mentor our youth than Troops visiting Troops?
“Our RSVP volunteers spoke and assisted Girl Scout Troop 13616 by crafting Valentine’s Day cards for the Veterans,” Carpenter continued. “They created quotes, poems, and art work specifically for each veteran then hand-delivered them. Our goal was to teach awareness to the Girl Scouts and to bring happiness to the veterans. The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program wants to thank everyone who helped make Valentine’s for Vets a success; Girl Scouts, leaders and Veteran’s Home staff and nurses.”
Sullivan said that even though the children are age 7 and 8, they understood the sacrifice the veterans made for the country. Sullivan added that the veterans seemed excited to see the girls and receive the cards.
“I think it uplifted their spirits. We plan on visiting the veteran’s home for other occasions,” Sullivan said. “We have visited Oxford Rehab for different things. The Girl Scout motto is to make the world a better place. We feel like reaching out to the community, and looking outside of ourselves and to others, we feel like it will help these girls grow up and do the same thing. Girl Scouts is a lot more than just camping and selling cookies. It’s about helping the community and helping others.”
Before visiting the veterans, another recent community event Sullivan’s troop was involved with was a food drive for The Pantry. Over $1,400 and over 3,5000 pounds of food was raised working alongside Boy Scout Troop 144.
9/11 Day of Remembrance Program
This year’s L-O-U community 9/11 program will provide ALL members of the community with opportunities to participate in recognizing our first responders. Please join us Monday September 11th for a ceremony including Mayor Robyn Tannehill and Lafayette County Board of Supervisor President, Jeff Busby. Following the ceremony, there will be a parade of first responder vehicles in front of the VA Home circle.
Mississippi State Veterans Home in Oxford………………………………Monday: 10am-12pm
For more information, contact Teresa Faust at 236-6662 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Volunteer Recognition of L-O-U’s First Responders
First responders will be recognized for their volunteer work in the community. Departments of our first responders will be recognized as well for the volunteer work they do throughout the year in the L-O-U Community.
Oxford & Lafayette County Schools 9/11 Program for Elementary Students
This program will include emergency preparedness presentations by L-O-U first responders.
Students in the PreK and Kindergarten classes will have the opportunity to interact with fire fighters and officers in full uniform.
UM ROTC 9/11 Memorial Run
Mon., September 11, 2016
6:00 am (5:30 am formation)
Meet at the Lyceum
All members of the L-O-U community are invited to participate in this free 2 mile run.
For more information, contact: Trinity Bishop, email@example.com
*volunteers will place 3,000 flags on campus after the run.
L-O-U Operation Gratitude Project
This project will show thanks to L-O-U first responders and our nation’s military by writing letters of gratitude and making appreciation art displays. Students at L-O-U schools have an opportunity to write letters of gratitude for military members and make art displays for L-O-U first responders. ALL L-O-U community members are invited to participate in this projects letter writing campaign. We will have drop-off letter stations at the following locations:
Letters will ultimately be sent to the Operation Gratitude organization where they will be delivered to military members. For more information contact Teresa Faust at (662) 236-6662 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
VISTA Drive for Veterans
The North MS VISTA Project will sponsor a supply drive for the MS State Veterans Home in Oxford, MS. Community members are welcome to drop off donations at the Volunteer Oxford office during normal business hours between Mon., Sept. 4th and Fri., Sept. 22nd. The North MS VISTA Project will also set up tables to accept donations outside several different local businesses during the week of September 11th.
For more information on donations needed, please contact Edy Dingus at email@example.com or 662-380-2340.
Here is a small agenda of the events to help remember those fallen on 9/11 and those currently serving in our L-O-U community.
A few things to remember about our MLK event!
1. The breakfast is FREE and open to the public but it is a while supplies last!
2. The movie showing of Selma is now at the Oxford Conference Center at 1:30pm!
3. Chick-fil-a give back night from 5:30-7:30 you MUST order through the mobile app (Chick-fil-A One) for Iterfaith Compassion Ministries to get credit!
4. Chili's give back night from 5-10pm you MUST mention the give back night in order for the ICM to get credit! ...
We can't wait to see everyone there!
Good morning! I hope all of our friends had a wonderful Christmas filled with lots of food, laughter and family! Here at Volunteer Oxford we're in full swing getting together the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Day of Service! The L-O-U planning committee has a full and fun day planned for the Community! Let me know if you want to volunteer or help in any way! We'd love to have you! Can't wait to see you on Monday January 16th!
Hey y'all! Kaitlin here! Can you BELIEVE we're already in December? I don't know about y'all but we're getting in the Christmas spirit at my house and are counting down the days until Santa comes to visit! I always love this time of year! Christmas music, the decorations, the food, and people just seem to be in a better mood! With Christmas right around the corner you know what that means ? Yep! Martin Luther King Jr's. Birthday! We here at Volunteer Oxford, Volunteer Mississippi and the 6 other Volunteer Centers in the State celebrate with a National Day of Service! The L-O-U planning comittee has a HUGE treat for the community for the 2017 day of service and we are so excited for it the be the biggest turnout yet! Keep an eye out for a schedule of events but PLEASE plan on joining us on Monday January 16th starting at 9am! If you have any questions at all or want to volunteer in any way give me a call at 236-6662!
Director, Volunteer Oxford
2017 L-O-U MLK Day of Service - Awards Nominations
Volunteers throughout the Lafayette-Oxford-University (L-O-U) community demonstrate the power of giving and caring every day. The 2017 L-O-U MLK Day of Service Planning Committee invites you to nominate an outstanding volunteer for this year’s L-O-U MLK Day of Service Awards. Awards nominees are selfless individuals that give back to our community through service. Not sure who to nominate? Look around you and you’ll see great volunteers throughout the community.
Three award categories:
Award recipients will be honored at the L-O-U MLK Day of Service Ceremony on January 16, 2017.
Please email nomination letters to firstname.lastname@example.org by noon Monday January 2nd.
Information to be provided in the nomination letter:
Nominators may submit as many nominees as desired.
All nominations will be reviewed by the 2017 L-O-U MLK Day of Service Planning Committee.
Questions? Contact Kaitlin Wilkinson at (662) 236-6662 or email@example.com
2017 LOU MLK Day of Service Planning Committee members are from the following organizations: Volunteer Oxford, the University of Mississippi Volunteer Services/Office of the Dean of Students, the United Way of Oxford and Lafayette County, the McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement, AmeriCorps/VISTA and College Corps programs, Good Food for Oxford Schools, the UM Department of Athletics, University of Mississippi Office of the Chancellor, Doors of Hope Ministry, Oxford Housing Authority, William-Winter Institute, the University of Mississippi School of Education, University of Mississippi Police Department, and Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP).