The people of Oxford came together Saturday, July 16 to mourn the fallen and to peacefully protest the recent shootings in the U.S.
Rachel Johnson and Latoya Faulk created the candlelight vigil on Facebook and invited roughly 900 people. Approximately 400 members of the community showed up.
“Part of this is seeing you have a lot of allies,” said Johnson. “It’s seeing you have a huge community who is invested in the same problems. We hope people met others that have similar goals and concerns and they’ll maintain those connections.”
Members of the community read the names of slain victims and their short biographies. Pastor Christopher Diggs of Burns-Belfry United Methodist Church and Minister Gail Stratton of Unitarian Universalist offered words of love and hope to the vigil attendees. University of Mississippi director of the MFA program in creative writing and author of ROPES, Derrick Harriell, and recent MFA graduate Virginia Henry read poems. Effie Burt lead the crowd in songs.
“We did not expect this turnout,” said Faulk. “The fact that so many people came speaks volumes. I’ve had many people come up to me and said we needed this. I’m really just overwhelmed with joy.”
Watch my video coverage of the peaceful protest below.
After 25 years of shuffling Leap Frog from building to building, the after-school tutoring and enrichment program will have a permanent home at Oxford’s central campus building.
The program’s executive director, Teresa Adams, said the news is “…really such a relief.”
Leap Frog has been operating out of five different locations, and on July 1st the program will move into a central classroom. Adams believes the big move will be positive for the children.
“Even little things like, we can hang up educational material on the walls,” said Adams. “We were never able to do that before.”
Helping at-risk youth
The after-school program tutors and mentors at-risk 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade students in the
Oxford city and Lafayette county schools. Children from Oxford come in every Monday and Wednesday, while children from Lafayette come in every Tuesday and Thursday during the school year. The program helps about 140 kids.
“We want them to exit on grade level and be doing good in fourth grade,” said Adams. “A lot of our students come from home lives that are stressful, and they really need this extra support so that they can be successful.”
Oxford’s school district superintendent, Brian Harvey, is glad to welcome the program to Oxford’s central campus.
“It will certainly be more convenient for them,” said Harvey. “Knowing that there are certain things that they can leave out, they don’t have to pack up everything, everyday. It will be a tremendous benefit for them, and we’re just glad that we could help.”
Help leap frog students succeed
You can help too. Leap Frog is hosting their annual Fire Cracker Bash fundraiser Friday, July 1st at The Lyric. All of the proceeds from the event will benefit the after-school program. The couple that donates the most money to Leap Frog will be crowned Mr. and Mrs. America.
Adams says she’s seen great results over the years. “They can actually go to school to learn, not go to school and learn to read.”
Fire Cracker Bash tickets are $25 and can be purchased at St. Peters Episcopal Church or at the event’s door.
Dewey Knight, a lifelong Oxonian, recently led a tour full of World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing fans around the city of Oxford.
The group toured everything from The Square to Saint Peter’s Cemetery. William Faulkner’s historic home, Rowan Oak was the stopping place of the bus tour. The piano fans then took a walking excursion of Faulkner’s house which includes an old chickering piano from Boston.
Sadly, the piano was out of tune and musicians were not able to play.
The fun continues this afternoon with a music workshop at three and a New Rag and Piano Duet contest at 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. Tonight, pianists will take turns playing at Locals, Frank & Marlee’s and the Shelter at 8:00 p.m.
Check out our Snapchat @HottyToddyNews for more coverage on the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest.
Today you can help give back to children in need, by purchasing a red nose and taking a selfie! #RedNoseDay
Red Nose Day helps raise awareness and money for kids in need around the world. Walgreens is selling red noses today for $1 along with other Red Nose Day products to donate to the cause.
Manager Will Martin said, “We had to re-stock on several items, and got several red noses from other stores for today.”
Silly for a cause
Walgreens will also be accepting additional donations from customers.
A $1 provides a meal for a child living in a homeless shelter. A $5 contribution gives antibiotics to treat a child with pneumonia or medical supplies for a doctor’s visit on a mobile clinic. An eye exam and glasses for a child in need is a $35 donation. A $4 donation goes to an anti-malarial net to protect a mother and her baby. A $15 donation helps keep a child safe and sheltered for a week. Books and school supplies can be donated with $7.
“For me, helping children is very important,” Martin said. “It’s a big event that helps other children in need. It brings an awakening that there’s other needs out there that can benefit other people.”
Celebrating Red Nose Day in the U.S.
Red Nose Day has raised over $1 billion globally over the last twenty-five years. This is the second year that the U.S. has participated in the fundraising event. Half of the money raised from Red Nose Day will be distributed in the U.S. the other half will benefit children in Latin America, Asia and Africa.
NBC is airing a two-hour live special to bring awareness for Red Nose Day at 9/8 central tonight. Seth Meyers, Pharrell Williams, Leslie Mann and other big stars participated in the primetime television event last year. Stars have been posting their #RedNoseDay selfies all over social media to get ready for today.
Participate in the Red Nose Day fun by purchasing a red nose and taking a selfie with the hashtag “#RedNoseDay.” Make sure to share your pictures with HottyToddy.com!
All Aboard! Grenada is boarding passengers on Sunday, June 5th, for a historical train ride along the Illinois Central Line.
The ninety mile trip will depart at 10 a.m. in Horn Lake and arrive in Grenada at 4 p.m. Modeled after the 1950s Illinois Central Railroad line, the train will be painted in chocolate brown and orange colors. The train will have five different cars for passengers to enjoy from different time periods.
Grab a seat!
There will be two bar tavern, lounge style cars modeled after the 1916 Paducah car and 1918 Calumet Club car. The Paducah car was a first class car used in New Orleans and Miami. Both cars will seat about forty people with bars and tables for costumers to enjoy. Sandwiches, chips and soft drinks will be available for sale on the train ride.
Train Conductor, Niel Bagaus, says the best seats in the house will be in the Vista Dome car. The car was built in 1955 and nick-named the “Jackson Square.” It’s built sixteen feet off the ground and surrounded by glass.
Two additional cars modeled after 1950s coach cars on the Illinois Central Line will be featured on the trip. These cars will hold about eighty people each. Bagaus promised that he would try and rotate passengers throughout the ride so everyone could experience the different cars.
Learn about the history!
The train ride will also double as a historical tour for passengers. Jackson and Water Valley Mississippi were important stops along the Illinois Central Railroad in the 1900s. There will be a pamphlet on the train with information about all the different Mississippi stops.
Grenada is known for its story of legendary conductor Casey Jones. Jones was running two minutes behind schedule in Grenada, making another freight train approach him for impact. Before he stopped the brakes, he told others to jump off the train. Jones was the only one killed in the accident on April 29th, 1900.
Bagaus says his favorite part of the trip is always the passengers. “I love chatting with them about the train and the routes. When you’re on a train everybody is your friend.”
Tickets for the train ride cost adults seventy five dollars and children ages 2 to twelve fifty dollars. You can purchase tickets to the trip here.
The train for the Horn Lake to Grenada trip will be featured in Memphis on Saturday, June 4th, at the Memphis Railroad and Trolley Museum from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.