By Sue Moore
The November South County News concentrates on two very different subjects. The first is the football season which has been successful for Vicksburg and Schoolcraft starting from the Youth programs clear up to the successful athletes both schools have produced who play at Kalamazoo College.
The other theme centers around what it takes to feed people who struggle to have enough money to buy the essentials that the majority of citizens take for granted. It sheds a light on the need during the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons focusing on giving back where it can be the most effective.
South County Community Services (SCCS) is on the front lines of the giving effort, yet their capability to carry out their usual programs was threatened by a loss of funding. Danna Downing, the executive director and the board, made a huge decision to cut costs by moving from the Community Center to smaller quarters in the Marketplace. This has reduced the visibility of the agency somewhat, but not its effectiveness, as Downing has been creative in stretching the available funds to achieve the best results possible.
In a letter to SCCS donors from 2013, she emphasized the strategy the board has adopted of providing more basics for the 2014 holidays and reducing the costs in the areas of gifting and celebrations. It takes about $10,000 to create the 250 food boxes that they want to provide. It takes another $10,000 in donations to build the household supply bags that contain laundry detergent/softener sheets, shampoo/conditioner, toothpaste, deodorant, bath soap, and several paper products. Donations in cash are urgently needed, she said, and they will be just as happy to receive donations of the household basics listed above.
Gifts for family adoptions are being handled by area churches and individuals who are interested in making sure that every child receives a nice gift on Christmas morning. SCCS is taking applications and passing them along to adopters who will work directly with adopted families to plan and deliver these gifts she says.
Buy Local Movement
This newspaper has been urging its readers to take a break from shopping the malls and big box stores to consider shopping in your home towns for unique and thoughtful Christmas gifts. The Buy Local Greater Kalamazoo effort was brought to our attention by Deb Christiansen of Schoolcraft who has served on this organization’s marketing committee. Their mission is to build community awareness of the economic benefits of supporting local businesses. So when you are thinking of hitting the deals on Black Friday, consider hitting Schoolcraft and Vicksburg stores on Buy Local Saturday, November 29. These local businesses’ advertisements in the South County News have made it possible for us to bring you a newspaper that serves the local area. Let’s show our support by keeping our hard earned dollars right here at home.
Grand Street Construction in Schoolcraft
The Michigan Department of Transportation is giving Grand Street in Schoolcraft a face lift with causing traffic backups and difficulty making left turns onto Eliza or Lyon Streets. They estimate the work will be done by November 8 but until then, the best strategy is avoiding U.S. 131 if at all possible. It certainly isn’t helping the businesses as the parking is nil and the urge to travel right on through is what the traffic is all about.
Changing of the Guard
New officers have been elected to sit on the Vicksburg Chamber of Commerce board of directors. Steve McGowen has served as president for the past two years and put the Chamber in a position to offer exciting events that have brought new activity, dynamism, and dollars into the downtown. He is responsible for starting the Taste of Vicksburg and the End of Summer beer party that drew hundreds of new people to the Main and Prairie Street corner. He was ably assisted by Tanya DeLong who will now take over as president. Assisting her will be Brian Pitts, vice president; Dale McCallum, treasurer; Christine Butcher, secretary; Mandy Miller, Karla Piper, Dustin Morton, Mandy Kokales as trustees with McGowen remaining active as a trustee. DeLong is also the president of the Vicksburg Downtown Development Authority (DDA) which is actively seeking to bring new businesses to the village, along with programs to fix up the exterior of the stores and plan events to highlight these offerings. She will be in a unique position to coordinate the efforts of both groups and continue the work that McGowen quietly and effectively pursued during his tenure.