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Vicksburg Catholic Schools donate 80 Thanksgiving food baskets to families in Vicksburg

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Each year the Vicksburg Catholic School system organizes a food-basket drive to give students an opportunity to give back to their communities and be grateful for the things that they do have, including turkey.

This year the schools were able to put together more than 80 food baskets for families in Vicksburg.

“Students bring in canned goods and a couple of dollars so that we can purchase turkeys,” said Mary Arledge, St. Francis principal. “A while ago we used to be able to give away 80 to 90 baskets, that’s when the school had more students. This year we were able to do 55 basket with turkeys and the rest were filled with canned goods.”

The food basket tradition began as the brainchild of a former Vicksburg Catholic school principal Thadimus Stark. After principal Arledge took over the school in 1998, the event continued to blossom. This year, the schools even received a donation from the community.

“This year we were given a donation of turkey from Merit Health,” she said. “So, since we had money, we were able to purchase turkeys for the 25 people who were on our waiting list.”

After spending a month gathering food and raising funds, students learned one simple lesson, to share.

“We hope that they learn that they are fortunate that they have shelter, they have good food, and that there are many people in our town that are homeless, And if they have a home, they might not have a nice Thanksgiving meal like they will [now],” Arledge said. “We just want to encourage them to share and allow others to have a nice Thanksgiving meal as well.”

COVID-19

Five benefits of a global pandemic

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(photo by Mathilda Khoo on Unsplash)

When 2020 is finally history, most people are probably hoping to forget it ever happened. After all, it’s difficult to imagine a silver lining from a year that has given us a worldwide pandemic, not to mention a ravaged global economy. 

Jennifer Williams, right, with her children, Stone and Sydney. (photo courtesy J. Williams)

If we look ahead, though, there is potential good to come from this unprecedented time, says Jennifer Williams, a Vicksburg resident who works for the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center. She is a wife and mother of two: 16-year-old Stone, her son, and 8-year-old Sydney, her daughter.

Benefit 1: The realization or reminder that time is precious 

Before 2020, many families tended to see each other in passing. Parents were running off to work, children were running off to school followed by practices, games and rehearsals. Family dinners had become increasingly uncommon since most of us were in a constant state of go. COVID-19 forced us all to slow down. In fact, it forced us all to actually stop for several weeks. Believe it or not, the “Great Quarantine of 2020” will likely inspire a few comedy flicks. 

Along those same lines, the current restrictions have seen to it that parents are becoming more involved with their children because they’ve been basically forced to become home school teachers.

“The upside to all of this (the pandemic) is you develop a better understanding of your children as students,” Williams said.

“You fully understand their strengths and weaknesses as pupils. You now know what their teachers know,” she added. “I, for one,  have also learned that teachers deserve a gigantic raise and the best seats in heaven. Teaching mine is not easy.” 

Benefit 2: One can never be too prepared

One of the byproducts of the coronavirus is depleted grocery shelves. Most of us haven’t yet built bomb shelters, but we have learned to stock up on essentials. 

“I used to joke with my mother about the boxes of (powdered) milk she had in her pantry,” Williams recalled with a laugh. “She would defend her boxes by asking me what would happen if we ran out of milk.

 “I told her if you run out, you can go to the store or order it from Amazon.”

In Williams’ case, mother did indeed know best. “When this (the COVID-19 crisis) all started, I learned quickly that it’s a good idea to have food, water and medical supplies on hand for emergencies,” she said. “And of course, toilet paper.” 

Benefit 3: The importance of saving

In the beginning, many people were in a state of panic as they found themselves financially unprepared. People will hopefully come out of this with a healthier approach to finances. 

“My parents always encouraged me to put money aside,” Williams said. “They made a point of spending less than what they made. It was always ingrained in me to not live beyond my means.”

“Maybe after things get back to normal, some people will realize it’s a bad idea to buy the Escalade off the showroom floor,” she added. “Hopefully people will have learned that the used 4Runner gets them where they need to go just as well.”

Benefit 4: Improved attitude concerning health-care workers

It’s common to complain about how long we sit in waiting rooms during doctor appointments or about the cost of medicine or co-pays. However, it’s time to appreciate health-care professionals on the front line who are at risk while serving the masses.

“I hope people can see how dedicated the medical crews are around the country,” Williams said. “We are so fortunate to have the doctors and nurses in the hospitals in America. So many people take them for granted. They are doing a phenomenal job now, and that was true before the coronavirus.”

Benefit 5: Kindness always counts

“Caremongering” is a word that didn’t exist before the coronavirus. I dare you to try it during your marathon Words with Friends games. A kind-hearted woman from Toronto named Valentina Harper is responsible for introducing the word to our lexicon.

Like many things these days, caremongering is driven by social media. Hashtags provide a permanent record of all the good happening across North America. Some of the common acts of care include supermarket runs for those who are unable to leave their homes. People are cooking meals for those in need and disseminating gift cards to the recently unemployed. 

“I sure hope people continue being so generous and kind when all of the restrictions are lifted. I’ve witnessed some truly heartwarming acts of kindness because of this pandemic,” Williams said. “Is it too much to ask for everybody to keep it going?” 

She then answered her own question: “You know what? We will keep being considerate and kind. I bet looking back on this whole year, we all realize we made it through it, and we’re better people for it.”

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COVID-19

Santa confirms that Christmas is not canceled

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With such an unprecedented year — we’ve been quarantined, adults working from home (or worse, losing jobs), students learning at home, restaurants and many other businesses shutting down, and families unable to visit each other — many children have been worried and wondering if Christmas is going to be canceled, too.

Well, thanks to Facebook and some familiar elves, parents have been able to reassure children that Christmas is indeed coming.

Santa reassured children that Christmas isn’t canceled.

The post, directly from Santa himself, is easing the minds of children everywhere. The elves captioned the photo “Important notice!” and it is going viral.

In the lengthy post, Santa confirms that he will be getting out on Dec. 24, and he, too, has been taking precautions against the pandemic.

Santa wrote: “It has come to my attention that children around the world are being told by their older siblings, parents, others adults, and even friends, that Christmas is not coming this year due to the COVID pandemic.

“This is simply not true. I have been practicing social distancing just as you have.”

Santa went on to say that no one at the North Pole has been infected and safety measures are being taken before his annual deliveries.

“All the toys and other presents will be totally disinfected before and after they are wrapped and put into my sleigh for delivery to your home, or to wherever you will be this year,” he wrote. “Do not worry my friends, I will not be spreading the virus nor will I be getting sick from anyone that has it. Christmas is not canceled.”

The post has racked up hundreds of likes and comments including many from parents praising Santa for his hard work.

Micki May is one of those grateful grandparents.

“My grandson was so worried and kept asking me if Santa Claus could get the ‘rona,” she said. “He was quite relieved when I read him Santa’s Facebook post.”

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Good News

Good Shepherd distributing food boxes and turkeys to elderly and disabled residents

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Volunteers at the Good Shepherd Community Center loaded up food for distribution Tuesday. (photo by Keith Phillips)

Last month, Good Shepherd Community Center had elderly and disabled residents sign up to receive Thanksgiving food boxes, and today, the center is distributing the boxes from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

“Each year, the elderly, 55-plus, and disabled sign up to receive Thanksgiving boxes to assure their needs are met during this season,” said Good Shepherd Director Cindy McCarley. “This year was more challenging with COVID, but we social distanced as best possible had made it happen.”

Individuals from the community including Warren County District 5 Supervisor Kelle Barfield, United Way of West Central Mississippi Director Michelle Connelly and Director of Community Investment Ruby Green were giving health surveys to those arriving to pick up their food boxes.

Boy Scouts Troop 7 made an appearance to volunteer along with the Junior Auxiliary, while members of the Vicksburg Police Department and Warren County Sheriff’s Office helped direct traffic.

Hinds Community College nursing students Tyneisha Strong and Diana Perez also came to pitch in.

Jo Beth Britt and Patty Montique are in charge of  checking everyone in while executive assistant Yavette Mitchell ran the show.

Many families are able to receive food boxes today, and with the help of the many volunteers, Good Shepherd is able to bless many families with good food for the Thanksgiving holiday.

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