Creative Freelancer & Writer

Christmas Trees Take On a New Theme

ABERDEEN, MS – The Christmas tree has become the focal point of the holiday season. Whether it’s the Charlie Brown type, void of needles, or the over-the-top Clark Griswold variety, experts estimate we spend around $3.4 billion on both real and artificial Christmas trees. Then add in cost lights, garland, tree toppers, tinsel, beads, ornaments, etc., no wonder the business of Christmas is booming. Ruth Carter of Ruth’s Warehouse, along with her husband Wayne and daughter Cindy Winders spend the spring and summer months catering more to floral gifts, baskets, silk flowers and memorial arrangements.  But come the first week of October, they’re store is bursting at the seams with themed Christmas trees, colorful garland and fanciful decorations. Themed trees can be decorated to match your mood, personality, profession or even a favorite football team. Do you have a chef in the house? How about a silverware tree using antique spoons, forks and knives. Feeling a little whimsical? A neon pink aluminum tree with silver ornaments and neon green poinsettia flowers might be the perfect gift. The days of traditional Christmas tree decorating has been turned on its ear. “Back in my day, decorations came in three colors – red, gold and green. Oh, and there was a lot of red velvet ribbon,” reminisced Carter. “Nowadays, people’s taste in Christmas has broadened and they’ve starting thinking outside of the box. These days you can decorate just about anything.” Carter has also noticed a new trend this holiday season with the introduction of Season trees. Season trees are your typical Christmas tree left up all year and decorated to match the different seasons and/or holidays of the year. Weary of tackling holiday decorating all by yourself this year?  Consider hiring a professional decorator to create the festive atmosphere at your home or your business. They can not only assist you with putting up all of your decorations but can handle taking everything down and storing...Continue Reading...

Dawson’s Different Life

NETTLETON, MS — Autism. It’s not like cooties. You can’t catch it from standing too close to someone who has it. There isn’t a medical test to diagnose Autism. April is National Autism Awareness Month and the town of Nettleton, MS is hosting its first ever Autism 5K Run/Walk and Marketplace on Saturday, April 28th to raise money for The Autism Center in Tupelo, MS. They offer free and low-cost services to all children on the Autism Spectrum and any others that may just be developmentally delayed in some way. No child is turned away. Autism affects 1 in 88 children. It’s a developmental disorder that usually appears in the first 3 years of life, and affects the brain’s normal development of social and communication skills. There are 3 categories in which Autism is diagnosed, but the amount of symptoms presented are different for each, as well as the severity. There is Classic Autism, Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger’s Syndrome. Some signs of Autism can include not making eye contact, not smiling or exhibiting joyful expressions by 6 months or later, not imitating sounds and movements others make, not communicating through gestures by 10 months, not responding to his or her name from 6 to 12 months, not babbling by 12 months, not pointing, reaching, or waving by 12 months, not speaking by 16 months, and not using two-word phrases by 24 months. In the case of 8 year old Dawson Dabbs of Nettleton, he was considered completely normal from the age of birth to 2 1/2 year old. It wasn’t until his mother Brandi Dabbs enrolled him in the three-year class at preschool that she started noticing a difference in his developmental abilities. “There was always something different about Dawson. I just couldn’t get other people to see what I was seeing because they were around him as much as I was,” Dabbs explained. “The pediatrician just told me...Continue Reading...

Confronting Child Abuse: The Smallest Victims Need a Voice

AMORY, MS — Two events were held in April to recognize Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month. In Aberdeen, the sky above the Monroe County Department of Human Services (DHS) was painted with blue balloons. Belle Elementary student council students, DHS staff, and families from around the county joined together to honor the most vulnerable amongst us. At Bigbee Baptist Church in Amory, Yvonne Funderburk with the Amory DHS office, Dana Copeland with Save-A-Life of Monroe County, and a group of social work students from The University of Mississippi presented information on child abuse awareness, statistics, and programs available to the community to help prevent child abuse. Child Abuse Prevention Month is recognized each April and signified with the color blue. The use of the color blue to commemorate Child Abuse Awareness Month was started by Bonnie Finney in 1989. She wanted a way to memorialize the tragic death of her 3 year old grandson at the hands of his mother’s abusive boyfriend. “One day I was just thinking about all the bruises I had seen on my grandchildren. I just decided I was going to tie a blue ribbon on my van. Why blue? I intend never to forget the battered, bruised bodies of my grandchildren. Blue serves as a constant reminder to me to fight for protection for our children,” Finney said. Mississippi faces a stark reality. The number of child victims is rising. Figures from 2010 showed that in Mississippi, 28,666 referrals for child abuse and neglect with over 69% of those referrals being referred for investigation. The number of child victims has increased 27% from the previous four years. There are a number of factors that can be attributed to the cause of child abuse. Child abuse is a cycle. One third of abused and neglected children will eventually victimize their own children. Family factors including marital difficulties, unemployment, financial stress, and social isolation can contribute to the risk of...Continue Reading...

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