December 13, 2010 3:57:00 PM
Roses to the volunteers in Columbus and at Columbus Air Force Base who are spreading holiday joy to hundreds of children through the Happy Irby Christmas Fund.
Volunteers for the fund, named for its founder, the late CAFB icon George "Happy" Irby, buy and wrap toys for area children in need each year. This week, about 20 volunteer shoppers picked out presents at the Columbus Walmart, which were taken back to the base and wrapped by about 25 volunteers.
Thanks to "Happy" Irby''s children, other family, friends, base spouses, and the Happy Irby Christmas Fund committee, who have kept the project going, even after Irby''s death last year.
A rose to Sarah Jo Murphy, the Heritage Academy second-grade teacher who was named this year''s Mississippi Association of Independent Schools'' Elementary Teacher of the Year.
Murphy, a veteran teacher, taught at New Hope Elementary School for 33 years before beginning at Heritage, where she has taught for 11 years.
Her dedication to teaching is impressive, and her commitment to learning has helped mold the minds of generations of young Lowndes County students.
A rose to the Columbus Arts Council for its winning wassail recipe, which earned it the Wassail-Meister Trophy on Friday morning.
And a rose to Amber Brislin and others at Columbus Main Street, who waded through 6,000 votes this week to arrive at the winning participant. Bliss Yoga took second place, with Party and Paper coming in a close third.
The number of votes is evidence to the crowds that turned out for the Dec. 3 event, which featured shoppers sampling wassail -- a punch made of cider and fruit juices, and occasionally, a few unnamed secret ingredients -- and voting on which business offered the best-tasting holiday drink. Twenty-nine downtown businesses participated.
The CAC''s wassail recipe is under wraps. We do know that it takes vanilla ice cream, thaws it, adds cinnamon and a "host of other ingredients" before re-freezing. Hot wassail (ingredients guarded) is poured over the ice cream. The recipe is one refined by Volunteer Guild Coordinator Ina Walters.
Roses to Edwina Williams, aka Mother Goose, and retired Mississippi University for Women professor Dr. Robert Gilbert, who were honored with service awards this week by the Columbus Town and Tower Club.
The oft-costumed Williams, who is known to generations of Columbus children by her storybook moniker, and Gilbert, who taught sociology at the university from 1954-80, were given community and school service awards, respectively.
The club, which brings together the "town and gown" sides of Columbus, gives the service awards each year. We can''t think of more deserving recipients.
Roses to Geri Jones, Annie Norman and Vicki West of Starkville, all Starkville High class of 1975 alumni, who organized two clean-up days at The Pines mobile home park this weekend and last.
The mobile home park was devastated by a tornado Nov. 29. Dozens of people turned out for the two clean-up days. Norman''s home was among those damaged in the storm.
According to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, 15 homes in The Pines were destroyed by the storm, 18 more sustained major damage, 20 received minor damage and 44 others were affected.