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United Way to spread spirit of giving at community-wide holiday party

By Devna Bose

’Tis the season for giving and good cheer, and United Way of Oxford Lafayette County is a providing the perfect way to enjoy both in the form of a community holiday party this Thursday.

“We were looking to have a fun celebration after the students leave and things die down around town,” United Way executive director Kurt Brummett said. “It’s a great opportunity to have the community come together before Christmas.”

The free, kid-friendly event is sponsored by Holli’s Sweet Tooth, Uptown Coffee and the Oxford Growler and will be in the plaza shared by the three businesses right off the Square from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m.

For Julie Mims, owner of Uptown Coffee, it was a “no-brainer” to co-sponsor the Community Holiday Party. Owner of Oxford Growler Krisi Allen said, “It’s a good cause, and it’s that time of year when we need to be thinking about community.”

United Way will be collecting children’s books at the event for the LOU Reads Coalition, an organization dedicated to ensuring that children in the community are reading proficiently, and blankets for Interfaith Compassion Ministry, a program that provides assistance to individuals facing crisis situations in Lafayette County.

Santa Claus will be on site to take pictures with children at no charge. Parents are urged to bring their phones or their cameras to capture their children’s memories with Santa. Tacky Christmas sweaters are the encouraged attire at the event.

There will be an arts and crafts area for kids to create Christmas picture frames, color Christmas pictures and build and decorate Christmas trees.

Instead of providing snacks, United Way is encouraging community members to shop local while at the event.

“Around this time of year, you always hear ‘shop local.’ We wanted to support local businesses and tie that in so money can stay in the community,” Brummett said. “If you’re looking to warm up on Thursday or have a snack, you have Uptown, Growler and Holli’s.”

The businesses in the breezeway will be asking customers if they would like to round up their purchase to the next dollar or donate to United Way, and the surplus funds raised will benefit the general functioning of United Way and its programs. By doing so, this fundraiser and future events can be kept free and open to the public while local businesses are being supported.

“The big thing is that it’s a free event, and we’re giving the opportunity for people to give back,” Brummett said. “If you only have a dollar to give, you can touch so many lives through the programs we support. It’s a good chance this time of year to come together as a community.”