Mission Accomplished for “Operation: Candy Cane”

P1100238 Mission Accomplished for  “Operation: Candy Cane”

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P1100238 Mission Accomplished for  “Operation: Candy Cane”

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This year’s “Operation: Candy Cane,” sponsored by the XYZ Employee Network at the Pascagoula Refinery, provided gifts for many children in the Jackson County and Mobile areas to help make their Christmas special.

The donations benefitted children in the Salvation Army of Jackson County Angel Tree program and Jackson County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) program, as well as St. Mary’s Home in Mobile.

Pascagoula Refinery employees adopted 83 angels from the Salvation Army, 57 angels from St. Mary’s Home, and 34 angels from CASA. Another $2,200 was donated and used to complete angel wish lists, and to buy additional gifts for the children.

Many children had a happy Christmas morning because of the generosity of Pascagoula Refinery employees.

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Getting in the Holiday Spirit in Jackson County

23845749_10159456800675391_4429130897048397808_o Getting in the Holiday Spirit in Jackson County

Looking to get more into the holiday spirit this week? Here are some events happening around Jackson County!

December 12:

The Ocean Springs Carnival Association Second Annual Christmas Carling: 7 to 10 p.m. in downtown Ocean Springs

Carolers will begin at the Villa Maria at 7 p.m., followed by the Samaritan House, then stopping by the bars in downtown Ocean Springs (last stop at Mosaic Tapas Bar). Find the carolers and let them carol to you!

Fiesta with Mr. & Mrs. Claus: 6 p.m. at Aztecas Gautier

Kids eat free with each adult purchase! Enjoy Christmas music by Double Dee dressed as Mr. and Mrs. Claus! 

Free Holiday Ornament Craft Workshop: 4:30 p.m. in the Pascagoula library

The Singing River Genealogy-Local History Library will host a free Holiday Ornament craft workshop.

Holiday Cookie Swap: 4 p.m., The Ina Thompson Moss Point Library

The library will host a Holiday Cookie Swap in Moss Point. Come enjoy some holiday cheer as we share both cookies and recipes with others at the library.

Vancleave High School Choir Performance: 4p.m., Vancleave Public Library

Celebrate the Holidays at the Vancleave Public Library with the Vancleave High School Ensemble. Everyone is welcome to join in the celebration and listen to the Vancleave High School Choir perform holiday favorites with choir director Mr. Turner.

 

December 14:

How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Hot Cocoa Bar: 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at The Reserve of Gulf Hills movie theater

The Coast Big Band Holiday Show: 7:30 to 9 p.m. at The Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center of Arts and Education, Ocean Springs

Join Karen Abernathy, David Delk, Johnathan Brannon and the members of the Coast Big Band as they celebrate the sounds of the Holidays. Price: Reserved Seating $15

 

December 15:

An Old-Fashioned Musical Celebration of Christmas: 7 to 8:30 p.m. at The Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center of Arts and Education, Ocean Springs

The Ocean Springs Chorale and Guests invite you to an old-fashioned musical celebration of Christmas. Thank you to HOSA for their sponsorship. Price: Members and Students: $10.00/ Non Members:$15.00

Christmas Fairy Tales: 8 to 9:30 p.m. at The Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center of Arts and Education, Ocean Springs

Join us for an evening of Victorian Christmas storytelling with Charles Dickens Scholar, Lawrence Hicks, as we explore many of the lesser known fairytales by the author of the beloved classic, “A Christmas Carol”. Let us treat you to spiced hot cocoa and holiday cookies as you enjoy our costumed performance and ambient sounds of the season. Later in the evening, with our Duckett Gallery and its current exhibit “Magic Lanterns • Ghost Stories and Fairytales” as a backdrop, you’ll be transported back in time for a uniquely Victorian Era form of entertainment as we light our Circa 1880 children’s toy magic lantern and project fantastically colored scenes on transparent plates, and they’ll all be accompanied by original Christmas Fairytales told by a live storyteller.

 

December 16:

Christmas Market in Ocean Springs: 9 a.m. at the Ocean Springs Fresh Market

Shop local makers and delicious produce at the Ocean Springs Fresh Market, with the addition of a Christmas market. 

Christmas Ornament Mini Workshop: 2 to 5 p.m. at the Wood & Wine Design Company, 1508 Government St., Ocean Springs 

This is a family friendly mini-workshop! The cost is $20 per person, everyone is welcome to make up to (3) custom Christmas ornaments. Shapes & decorations will include traditional Christmas, Coastal, & Collegiate! (A little something for everyone) You & the kiddos will paint & glue them to your personal style. Pre-payment is required to hold your spot. Join anytime after 2pm, the mini workshop will END at 5pm. ALL AGES are welcome. For more information or to reserve your spot, email woodandwinedesignco@gmail.com.

Star Party 2017: 5 to 9 p.m. at the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, 6005 Bayou Heron Rd., Moss Point

Come join the Grand Bay NERR for its annual Star Party. We would like to invite you to witness one of the largest meteor showers of the year, the Geminids Meteor Shower, on one of the peak viewing nights. We will also have an amazing night of free family fun planned with a variety of soups and hot chocolate to enjoy. Some of the activities include: hay ride from the Coastal Resources Center to the boat launch, viewing the Geminids meteor shower, crafts for children of all ages, owl walk on our Savannah Trail, cookie decorating (and eating), pictures with Santa Claus, reindeer games and more.

Registration is required. To register please visit grandbaynerr-starparty-2017.eventbrite.com, or call 228-523-4190.

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Refinery Competition Benefits Backpack Buddies

BackPackBuddies2017-5-1 Refinery Competition Benefits Backpack Buddies

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Employee Networks at Chevron Pascagoula Re nery hosted a friendly competition throughout the month of July to bene t less-fortunate children in the Pascagoula School District through the Backpack Buddies program.

The eight participating networks collected a total of 16,171 items and $3,845 in monetary donations (more than $7,000 when matched by Chevron Humankind).

The point system for the food drive competition assigned 1 point for 1 item, and 4 points for every $1 donation.

Rather than the Networks competing against each other, donated money and food items were assigned by the giver to a college football team. The winner of the food drive competition was Itawamba Community College (Fulton, Miss.), with a total of 21,938 points, and the school’s ag will be own at the Re nery Main Gate in honor of this ‘win.’

The Backpack Buddies program was started in 1995 by a school nurse in Little Rock, Ark., who realized that children coming to her with headaches and stomach aches were actually su ering from hunger, not illness. At that time,
she began sending food home with the children in their backpacks on Fridays. The school where she worked saw an immediate improvement in grades and in enthusiasm in the children. From that time, the program has spread throughout the country. In Jackson County alone, there are Backpack Buddies programs in Gautier, Ocean Springs, Pascagoula and Moss Point.

Special thanks to Michael Keyser (Technical) and Nelson Devin (Technical) for leading this year’s food drive.

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Gifts Sought for the Mississippi State Hospitals

Whitfield-Photo-2015 Gifts Sought for the Mississippi State Hospitals

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It is the time of year where the public is asked to consider holiday donations of leisure gift and personal care items for patients at the Mississippi State Hospitals in Whitfield and East Mississippi. The Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce-Main Street-Tourism Bureau and the Jackson County Mental Health Friends are sponsoring the annual Gifts for Whitfield and East Mississippi collection.  For more than 26 years, the Chambers of Commerce and the Friends have participated in this Christmas program. 
 
Individuals, groups and businesses are encouraged to bring items to the Chambers until December 14, 2017, at noon.  Volunteers will take the items to Whitfield and East Mississippi.  Items are for women and men and can include pocket games, puzzles, cards, sports balls, portable radios, stationery items, board games, arts and crafts kits, batteries, sunglasses, socks, slippers, caps, pajamas, underwear, belts, hats and personal care items.  No glass items are permitted. 
 
Be sure to include sender information with each contribution.  All donations are tax-deductible for income tax purposes.  Do not wrap your items.  Items can be delivered to the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce at 720 Krebs Avenue, Pascagoula and the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce-Main Street-Tourism Bureau at 1000 Washington Avenue, Ocean Springs.
 
For more information on this program and other programs throughout the year, call the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce at 228-762-3391 or email JohnsonL@jcchamber.comFor more information on the Mississippi State Hospitals, visit www.msh.state.ms.us
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Singing River Health System Auxiliary Volunteers Elect New Officers for 2018, Name Volunteers of the Year

OSH-Auxiliary-Officers-2018 Singing River Health System Auxiliary Volunteers Elect New Officers for 2018,  Name Volunteers of the Year

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Hospital auxiliary volunteers for both Singing River Hospital and Ocean Springs Hospital have elected and installed their 2018 slate of officers to lead more than 100 Singing River Health System volunteers.

At Ocean Springs Hospital, Sharron Kirk will serve as Auxiliary President, joined by Henry Williams, Vice President; Donna Borries, Recording Secretary; Dianne Gish, Treasurer; and Dortha Durso, Corresponding Secretary.    Nettie Phillips was named Volunteer of the Year for the Ocean Springs Hospital Auxiliary. 

At Singing River Hospital, Joy Mangum will serve as President, along with Martha Edwards, First Vice-President; Elouise Bell, Second Vice-President; Gail Nicholson, Treasurer; Karen German, Recording Secretary; Betty Richarde, Corresponding Secretary; Jacqueline Chapman, Parliamentarian, and Ruby Alexander, Historian.  

In addition, each hospital auxiliary group presented their “Auxiliary Volunteer of the Year Award” for 2017.  At Ocean Springs Hospital, Nettie Phillips received the award, and Elouise Bell received the award at Singing River Hospital. 

Auxiliary volunteers at both hospitals provide thousands of service hours every year in multiple service areas, providing hospitality, comfort and assistance to patients and guests.   Both groups welcome applications for new volunteers, with information available on the Singing River Health System website at https://www.singingriverhealthsystem.com/about-us/volunteer/.

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Pay it Forward Friday: Greg Bufkin

thank6 Pay it Forward Friday: Greg Bufkin

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In March of 2016, Greg Bufkin checked himself into the Home of Grace, a faith-based drug treatment center, for three months after a near-death experience from a drug overdose. Bufkin best describes himself to this day as a recovering addict. For many years he was addicted to pain killers after being prescribed them for a migraine under a doctor’s care. 

Through the duration of his stay, Greg and his wife noticed a gap with the patient’s addiction and their family members. “If you don’t’ treat the family at the same time and the same way you’re helping the addicts, then you’re missing a big portion of addiction”, says Bufkin. This discovery led Bufkin and his wife to start El Roi Ministries. El Roi (pronounced ‘row-eye’) aims to bridge that gap by building a network of churches, counselors, companies, charities and skilled individuals to help these families. 

“When I was in rehab, I lost my salary and things were happening with my family and our house that needed to be paid for”, says Bufkin. “Life goes on while you’re in rehab and most of these addicts’ family members don’t have the same support system”, he said.

El Roi’s mission is to first help the physical needs of these families and secondly educate them. Bufkin stressed how the family’s adaptation to the addict’s release from these programs is just as important as the addict’s. “If what the family is doing before the addict goes into rehab isn’t changed when they come out, why should you expect the result to be that much different?”, says Bufkin. “And how do they know what to do differently unless you educate them”, added Bufkin. 

El Roi isn’t just Home of Grace specific. They work with many other rehab organizations, churches, and facilitations. Recently, the El Roi ministry team volunteered to feed the people at Home of Grace by providing a Thanksgiving meal. They had 30 volunteers from Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana, come together to spend Thanksgiving with the men at The Home of Grace in Vancleave, MS. “Some of our volunteers were former clients at The Home of Grace”, Bufkin said. “Some of the volunteers had loved ones who were previously clients, some were people who just wanted to spend Thanksgiving doing something for somebody else rather than doing the same old family gathering”, he said. 

Bufkin says it’s all about loving these people and letting them know they are there for them and their families before, during and after their rehabilitation. “If the family falls apart while the addict is in rehab, then the odds of the addict first finishing the program is slim; and even if they do then they won’t be sober long if the family is not stable enough”, Bufkin said. El Roi’s goal is to have agreements with these organizations and individuals to offer services for free or reduced rates.

Bufkin says he sees El Roi expanding to more churches and organizations over the next few years. Within the last year, they’ve expanded by reaching out to other organizations they had originally not intended to work with, including Steps Coalition. “My goal is to have people to follow up with these rehab/AA programs even if it may take them to a different facility, but with the core focus being on the family”, he said. 

Greg is also in the midst of writing an informational booklet detailing what addiction is and the best way to combat it with your family. “I’d like to call it something like ‘Addiction for Dummies'”, Bufkin jokingly added. “I just want these families to understand why they behave like they do, so they are coming home to an understanding and educated environment after treatment”, said Bufkin. 

Bufkin also encourages people who would like to volunteer for the El Rio ministry to message their Facebook page. “We can always use folks to help make phone calls, companies and people to offer free or reduced services for families of addicts in recovery who are in need”, said Bufkin. “Even if it’s five minutes or a few hours, we’ll find somewhere you can help out”, he said. 

 

 

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Where You Can Find Your Christmas Tree in Jackson County

treefield Where You Can Find Your Christmas Tree in Jackson County

Christmas trees are ready to cut at A&W Tree Farm.

Now that Thanksgiving has passed, many Jackson County residents are turning their focus to finding the perfect tree for their holiday season.

While fresh cut trees are available to purchase at stores like Lowe’s in Gautier, starting from $29.98, those who want the authentic tree farm experience have a couple of local options in Jackson County: A&W Tree Farm in Moss Point and Bozo’s Seafood Market & Deli in Pascagoula.

Since 2014, A&W Tree Farm has allowed for families to come to the farm, purchase live trees, and even choose their tree and cut it themselves. They grow three types of trees: Virginia Pines ($35 to $65) Green Giants and Carolina Sapphires and also source Frazer Firs from North Carolina. The Virginia Pine trees are available for choosing and cutting, with the others becoming available in 2018. Visitors can also choose live potted Green Giants ($25) or Carolina Sapphires ($65).

Wanda Clark said she and her husband decided to start the Christmas tree farm around 2011.

“We have 40 acres, and after cutting down pine trees in the past destroyed the property, we never wanted to do that again,” Clark said. “We thought about growing fruit trees and some others at first. But we decided on Christmas trees and nothing bigger than what our pickup truck could get back to and carry.”

In addition, the Clarks built a train visitors can choose ride back to the property. On Sunday, Dec. 3, the farm will celebrate the holidays by having a visit from Santa. Clark said it will also likely mean that the number of available trees will dwindle. While A&W Tree Farm will be open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Dec. 3, those still in need of a Christmas tree will need to call 251-751-2596 in advance to see what is left.

The farm has seen many successes over the years, including supplying Moss Point and Dauphin Island with their official Christmas trees, and Clark said the years keep getting better.

“We’re a small mom-and-pop farm,” Clark said. “But this has been our best year yet.”

Bozo’s Seafood Market & Deli in Pascagoula also carries the annual tradition of converting its lawn into a tree farm. 

Jackson County resident Zeke Clancy and his family returned to Bozo’s this year to choose their trees.

“This is really my first year to come out here and experience this and pick out a tree,” Clancy said. “My sister and her kids have been coming for the past four or five years.”

He said the main reasons he visits Bozo’s for a tree are the location and high reputation. Most of all, though, he said choosing a tree each year is always a family affair.

“My grandfather came here and always picked out his trees,” Clancy said. “I guess we just carried on the tradition.”

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MGCCC’s Process Operations Technology program receives Gold Level endorsement

20171101_174537-1024x768 MGCCC’s Process Operations Technology program receives Gold Level endorsement

The Process Operations Technology program at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s Jackson County Campus has received a Gold Level endorsement from Central Gulf Industrial Alliance (CGIA).  CGIA is an industry-driven consortium of leading employers along the Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida Gulf Coast. From left are CGIA representatives Eddie Clayton and Bonnie Tully; Tommie Broome, Process Operations instructor at MGCCC; John Poelma, chair of the Career-Technical department at MGCCC’s Jackson County Campus; and CGIA representatives Frank Jelercic and Hayleigh Barlar.

The Process Operations Technology program at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s Jackson County Campus has received a Gold Level endorsement from Central Gulf Industrial Alliance (CGIA).  CGIA is an industry-driven consortium of leading employers along the Mississippi, Alabama and Florida Gulf Coast.

“Recognition from the consortium means that we meet and exceed standards set by the industries for potential employees,” said Tommie Broome, Process Operations Technology instructor. “They researched our curriculum and conducted an extensive on-site audit and inspection to ascertain compliance with safety standards and course content.  They also look at placement as a measure of the program’s success.”

The consortium leads a nationally recognized evaluation and endorsement process for regional industrial craft training programs to ensure these operate at or above industry standards and meet the workforce needs of the member’s industries. It offers three different levels of endorsement based on a scorecard. Gold is the top award, followed by silver and bronze, which is the lowest level. MGCCC’s Process Operations Technology program scored a Gold Level endorsement, which means that that the college has a quality program, is recognized by the industries that are hiring students and encourages others to look at MGCC students as a valuable resource. 

The Process Operations Technology program was started in 2003.  Currently, it serves almost 275 students in day and evening programs, with an average of 80 students graduating each year.

In August 2017, the Process Operations Technology Program received endorsement status from the North America Process Technology Alliance, giving the program its first national-level endorsement.

“We were excited when CGIA chose the Process Operations Program for endorsement.  We are the first Process program to be selected for endorsement and consider it an honor to set this standard,” Broome said. “We set the bar very high for those to come after us.  This is an important recognition because of the opportunities that is opens for our students.”

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American Heart Association Hosts Healthy Food Drive for Eat Healthy Month

ATT-ESM-pic-2017 American Heart Association Hosts Healthy Food Drive for Eat Healthy Month

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The American Heart Association and its partners in the Jackson County community have been working throughout the month of November to inspire local residents to have a happy, healthy holiday while helping others do the same.

November is Eat Smart Month (Wednesday, November 1 was National Eating Healthy Day), and there’s no better time to embrace a healthier diet and lifestyle than the kickoff of the year-end holiday season. While the holidays are a time for food, friends, family, and fun, there’s no reason that one can’t maintain a healthy diet while still enjoying the bounty of the season with just a few simple amendments. For more information on how to keep yourself on a heart-healthy track throughout the holidays, click here (http://bit.ly/2ngvBCo).

While keeping yourself and your family healthy during the holidays is wonderful, you can also help make sure those in need this holiday season have healthy foods as well. The American Heart Association in Jackson County is encouraging healthy food drives for the local food banks by asking individuals and businesses to donate healthy foods to those in need this holiday season. Healthy foods that are needed include those with low sodium, foods that add color to the holiday plate, non-perishable individually wrapped products, and foods bearing the American Heart Association Heart Checkmark logo. Suggestions include: prepackaged whole grain cereals, low-sugar granola bars, instant oatmeal cups, dehydrated fruit, whole-grain crackers, unsalted rice cakes, and low-sodium canned vegetables.

Donations are still being accepted, so if you or your business collected foods throughout the month of November and would like to support the healthy food drive initiative, please contact the American Heart Association for pick-up at 228-236-5830. Donated foods will be picked up by American Heart Association staff on November 30, and items will go to 12 Baskets, a food bank serving the Mississippi Coast, in early December.

The American Heart Association has contacted all 2018 Jackson County Heart Walk sponsors to encourage them to host their own healthy food drives in support of the overarching initiative. One Jackson County business that has taken the healthy food initiative to a different level is AT&T. Employees have collected healthy foods for donation to the VA of Biloxi food drive, helping to meet existing needs in a way that helps other eat a heart-healthy diet throughout the holiday season.

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Volunteers from Three States Make Thanksgiving Special at The Home of Grace

Thanksgiving is a time where families come together to laugh, love, fellowship, and eat. In South Mississippi, we are no different, with a few exceptions.

There are people, of course, who may not have friends or family nearby to spend Thanksgiving with. Some people have to work. We always want to be mindful of those who serve in the military and are far away from home. We want to say a very special thank you to those men and women, as well. There are, however, people much closer to home who are fighting a very different kind of battle. This battle is also keeping them away from their families on Thanksgiving. I am talking about those men and women who are in rehabilitation programs fighting addiction.

My name is Greg Bufkin. From March of 2016 thru June of 2016, I was a client at one of our area rehabs. I had been battling an addiction to prescription pain medication for almost 13 years. I was in treatment for my birthday, anniversary, Easter, mother’s birthday, and Mother’s Day. Rehab can be a very lonely place at times, but especially when you’re missing holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries.

My wife and I are the founders of El Roi (pronounced “row-eye”) Ministries. We founded El Roi in response to two very big needs we noticed (while i was in treatment) that men and women in treatment have. The first need was the family of the addict. The family has financial, educational, and emotional needs that were often unmet. If the family of the person in treatment is faltering or failed while they were in rehab, their odds of success were significantly decreased. The second need was that the addict needed to be loved on while in treatment. They needed help in breaking the cycle of shame and guilt that all addicts find themselves in. Without being loved on it can be very difficult for the addict to maintain the motivation to continue the hard work of recovery.

 

One of the ways we go about loving on the addicts is by providing lunch on Thanksgiving Day. For Thanksgiving 2017, we had 30 volunteers from Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana, come together to spend Thanksgiving with the men at The Home of Grace, in Vancleave, MS. Some of our volunteers were former clients at The Home of Grace. Some of the volunteers had loved ones who were previously clients, some were people who just wanted to spend Thanksgiving doing something for somebody else rather than doing the same old family gathering.

eddie Volunteers from Three States Make Thanksgiving Special at The Home of Grace

Eddie, who is from Hattiesburg, was one of our volunteers. He is a former client of The Home of Grace. When asked about why he was giving up thanksgiving with his family to be there he said, “So many people did things to show me that i was loved, while i was at The Home of Grace. I just want to demonstrate to those who are there now, that they are loved as well. I guess you could say I’m giving back just like it was given to me.”

eddie Volunteers from Three States Make Thanksgiving Special at The Home of Grace

Another volunteer, Darren, who is a resident of Jackson County, had plans with his family later that day. This is what he had to say when he was asked about his participation, “You know, i could’ve slept in or gone to the gym. I could’ve done several different things that were about me. But one of the things I’ve learned about fighting addiction is that we have been selfish for so long. One way to break that pattern is to serve others. I love the Home of Grace for what it did for my life, and I want to give back, just to show the love of Jesus to these men.”

eddie Volunteers from Three States Make Thanksgiving Special at The Home of Grace

Troy is another former client who came from Slidell, LA to volunteer. Troy had this to say to the men at The Home of Grace, “I was here for Thanksgiving during my time. I can remember a group coming in and feeding us. It just melted my heart that these people would come in and love on us like that. I want to do the same for you guys. I want you to know that you are loved and that there is hope for you.”

The most amazing thing about the day was simply how much food was donated and provided by various people to make this day possible. We had 20 turkeys (The Shed was kind enough to smoke these for us), 4 gallons of gravy, over 400 dinner rolls, over 500 individual dessert servings, green beans, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and more. We fed all of the men, offered seconds to anybody who wanted it, and left enough food for two more meals per man. There was A LOT of food. More important than all of that was the chance we had to love these men, and demonstrate our thankfulness for all that we have, by giving to those who need it most on this Thanksgiving. It was truly a great day.

If you, or someone you know, is battling an addiction, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We will help in way that we possibly can. You can check out our web site www.elroiprovides.org check us out on Facebook, www.facebook.com/elroiprovides

You can also come to Celebrate Recovery at Mosaic Church in Ocean Springs, Thursdays at 6:30. Mosaic has groups for addicts, groups for the family members of addicts, groups for teenagers struggling with addiction, as well as grief share, divorce care, and men struggling with pornography. Child care is provided.

Below you will find more pictures of our Thanksgiving Meal.

eddie Volunteers from Three States Make Thanksgiving Special at The Home of Graceeddie Volunteers from Three States Make Thanksgiving Special at The Home of Graceeddie Volunteers from Three States Make Thanksgiving Special at The Home of Graceeddie Volunteers from Three States Make Thanksgiving Special at The Home of Graceeddie Volunteers from Three States Make Thanksgiving Special at The Home of Grace

 

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