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Roses and thorns: 12/24/11




A rose to the Garrett family on Oswalt Road in New Hope for their Christmas light show extravaganza. Each year, the family goes all out for the holidays, offering a spectacular light show that's worth a special trip. Cars line the road to watch colorful snowmen, angels, Santa and other Christmas characters dance to music you can tune to on your radio (The Cool Yule Broadcasting Co. FM 101.5). One family's front yard has become a Christmas tradition for many families in the area. The Garretts started the show with about 1,200 lights in their garage, according to their website, The tally is now up to more than 36,000. Thanks for sharing and spreading the holiday cheer! 


Roses also go out to all those families who adorn their homes and yards with decor for the season. We applaud time, effort and love it takes to create these odes to the season. It's a Christmas gift to us all. 




Roses to all those who have given of themselves this holiday season, from ringing Salvation Army bells, donating to good causes, giving away clothes and toys and banding together as a community to help those less fortunate. Though there are too many efforts to list, we've included a few of note: The Happy Irby Christmas Fund has continued through a group of volunteers, including Happy Irby's children, since George "Happy" Oliver Irby's death in 2009. Irby started the program at Columbus Air Force Base, collecting tips in a jar at the CAFB officer's club where he worked, with plans to use the money to bring Christmas to area children. This year, 300 presents were wrapped during the Columbus Air Force Base Happy Fund Wrap at CAFB's Columbus Club.  


Members of Second Baptist Church in Starkville delivered bicycles for third- through fifth-grade students at Henderson-Ward Stewart and East Oktibbeha elementary schools. The bikes were destined for students who wouldn't normally receive such a gift. Church members distributed 48 bikes to Henderson-Ward Stewart and 12 to East Oktibbeha. 


The Columbus Police Department, Columbus Fire Department and Fitness Factor helped out Santa this year with toy drives.  


Girl Scout Troop 20253 put together more than 2,500 goody bags for children as part of Hands Across Columbus. In addition to gift bags, Hands Across Columbus delivered 5,000 meals to area residents. 


Good deeds are never in short supply during the holidays. And we encourage you to maintain that spirit throughout the year. People tend to feel philanthropic this time of year, but the need is there all year long. Reach out. Volunteer. Give. 




A rose to those who have donated items to a Rural Hill family of five, Todd and Erinn Benge and their three children. The Lowndes County family lost most of their belongings in a house fire earlier this week. Almost immediately, donations began pouring in, and a Facebook page was started to help them both with necessities and Christmas gifts. Donations can be dropped off at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church on Pleasant Hill Road by the Columbus Speedway. Donations can be left outside the office door. The church's phone number is 662-329-3921.  


The clothing sizes for the family are as follows: 


n Erinn -- Large shirts, size 16 pants and size 9 1/2 shoes 


n Todd-- XL shirt, size 36-by-32 pants and size 10.5 shoes 


n T.J. -- Size 14 or 16 clothing 


n Matthew -- Size 4 or 5 clothing 


n Carson -- Size 12-18 months clothing 




A rose to Harry Bell and Lynn Spruill, who donated an acre of land to the Starkville Parks Commission for a park on South Montgomery Street. There are no park spaces on South Montgomery, and the area is heavily populated. 


"I'm just delighted the Parks Commission saw it had potential to offer something to the people in the area," Spruill said. We're delighted Spruill and Bell were willing to offer the land to the community for use as a park. Community parks can enhance neighborhoods, offering children a place to expend their extra energy in a healthy way. It doesn't hurt for parents to get outside with them either. 




This week, a Dispatch reader wanted to offer a rose of her own. East Columbus resident Lona Southerland found a pleasant surprise when she went outside to her garbage rack last week. The rack, which had been broken for a while, was repaired. The sanitation engineers who pick up the garbage on her route had fixed the rack. "I didn't ask them to. I wasn't even out there," she said. "When I went to get it, they had fixed it for me. ... They have what we think of as the lowliest of jobs," Southerland said. " But where would we be without them?" 


Southerland thought the gesture was wonderful. So do we. We each should do more to help our fellow man. Most often, it's the small things that count -- things that take little effort but a whole lot of thoughtfulness. 


Know someone who deserves a pat on the back? Or maybe their wrist slapped? Offer your own suggestions for Roses and Thorns to 662-328-2471, or email them to [email protected] 






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