‘Tis the Season: Ugly Christmas Sweaters for a Cause

Ugly-Sweaters 'Tis the Season: Ugly Christmas Sweaters for a Cause

Photo by Tammy Smith | SunHerald 

Over the years, people worldwide have added the ugly Christmas sweater to their list of necessary holiday items.

These sweaters, known for their tackiness and gaudiness, can range from knitted sweaters to sweater vests, handmade to handed down, and can feature an endless number of decorations and images – everything to get you into the Christmas spirit.

This year, Ocean Springs resident Brandt Russo decided to open up a pop up shop in Ocean Springs and take ugly Christmas sweater shopping to the next level.

Russo, who runs his own vintage store through Instagram called Rebirth Vintage Company (@rebirthvintageco), said he’s been collecting these sweaters all year and got the idea to set up a pop up shop from a fellow vintage shop owner.

“Pop up shops basically raid another business’ space for a month,” Russo said. “They help those businesses, and they help your business.”

As a kickboxing instructor at the Alan Belcher MMA Club, he asked the owner if he could use the space next door to set up a shop to sell his sweaters. After the owner said yes, Russo didn’t turn back. 

“It just made sense,” Russo said. “Instead of selling them to my usual place in New Orleans, I could use this space and sell them on my own and donate a portion of the proceeds.”

Russo calls his shop the Naughty Elves Ugly Christmas Sweater & Vintage Finds Pop Up Shop, and he offers sweaters that can match any personality, as well as some other vintage holiday items. He said buying from his shop offers a unique experience compared to bigger box stores like Wal-Mart.

“The cool thing about these, for the most part, is that they’re older; they’re wool; they’re knit – hand-knit,” Russo said. “If you go to Wal-Mart, they’re going to fall apart on you. You’ll only spend $12, but you’ll only use them twice.”

In addition, 10 percent of all sales will go to the Humane Society of South Mississippi – a cause near to Russo’s heart.

Seven years ago, Russo said he found his dog Dorothy under an interstate at a homeless camp. There was a litter of puppies, all sick with Parvo, and he chose her. He said she’s been his best friend ever since.

“I’ve had a couple of relationships over the years, and, you know, the only one that has been solid has been my dog,” Russo said. “It was very easy to want to help other animals in that situation because she’s been such a blessing.”

The Naughty Elves Ugly Christmas Sweater & Vintage Finds Pop Up Shop, located at 2646 Bienville Blvd. in Ocean Springs, will be open 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday through Dec. 20.

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Support Local Businesses for Small Business Saturday

22255110_1786080211691528_8662196027356696320_o Support Local Businesses for Small Business Saturday

Provided by Downtown Ocean Springs

If you haven’t finished (or even started) your holiday shopping, consider visiting a local store in your community on Saturday, Nov. 25, for Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday is an American shopping holiday held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving during one of the busiest shopping periods of the year.

First observed in the United States on November 27, 2010, as an advertising campaign created for American Express, it is a counterpart to the all-popular Black Friday and upcoming Cyber Monday, which feature big retailers like Target or Best Buy and e-commerce stores, respectively. By contrast, Small Business Saturday encourages holiday shoppers to visit small brick-and-mortar businesses in their local areas. 

According to American Express, an estimated 112 million consumers reported shopping at small businesses during the 2016 Small Business Saturday, up 13 percent from the year before. In addition, more shoppers reported visiting local independent businesses in 2016 more than ever before, and a record high of 72 percent of U.S. consumers were aware of the day.

For local businesses, however, the recognition of shopping small means much more than the sales.

Mickie Miller, who owns Two Dogs Dancing, a pet store in downtown Ocean Springs, said that she thinks more people are starting to see the benefits of shopping locally even outside of Small Business Saturday.

“The difference in shopping locally versus online is you’re able to walk in and try things on,” Miller said. “You can buy unique items and take them home with you that day.”

Miller said many of the items she features in her store cannot be found at big-box stores like Target, and that’s an extra benefit to shopping locally. She added that shopping locally adds a personal approach to shopping all year-round.

“If you come into my store, I can tell you everything about every single item,” Miller said. “I can help you find all the items and give you recommendations. It’s more of a personal connection.”

Maryalice Miner from Miner’s Doll and Toy Store agreed that the personal connection is what sets brick-and-mortar stores apart.

“People love to feel connected,” Miner said. “It’s satisfying to get back in your car and feel good and to know those people cared that you came into their store.”

After 30 years of owning Miner’s Doll and Toy Store, Miner said another benefit of shopping local is continuity.

“We’re here,” Miner said. “We’re always here. You can come and you’ll always find some good stuff. People know they can count on us.”

Miner said that the store also provides free gift wrapping, meaning people can come in, find a gift, have it wrapped for free and be out the door and on their way to a party. It’s special touches like these, she said, that keep people shopping locally. 

Miner said that while bigger box stores and online shopping have their place, it’s all about people creating a balance of where they shop. She stressed that supporting local business is not only good for the businesses but for the community as a whole.

“We do depend on people coming in to shop,” Miner said. “It’s really worth it for people to make an effort to support their local business. We donate to the local charities, and we’re here for the community. It’s an investment for all of us to have that continuity of these stores. We’re really the treasures.”

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Local Mayors, Chefs to Participate in Five Course Feast for Charity

274ad7_6560897e71764fedb0e58e75828531bamv2_d_2210_2210_s_2 Local Mayors, Chefs to Participate in Five Course Feast for Charity

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Local mayors will team up with talented chefs from their cities to participate in a Five Course Feast fundraiser to raise awareness for food insecurity.

Ocean Springs Mayor Shea Dobson with Frog Head Grill’s Chef Devin Spayde and Pascagoula Mayor Dane Maxwell with Singing River Yacht Club’s James White II, along with three other pairs from the Mississippi Coast, will represent their cities and work together to create one of the five courses.

Frog Head Grill’s Chef Devin Spayde said Mayor Shea Dobson asked the restaurant to partner with him for the event, and he is looking forward to participating in the event.

“It will be the first time cooking in front of so many people on a stage,” Spayde said. “But it’s a good event and will be good exposure for our restaurant that has only been around for a little more than a year.” 

Spayde added that both he and Mayor Dobson are pretty young and new to the scene, making them a bit like underdogs in the event.

The Ocean Springs team drew the dessert course for the event, and Spayde explained they will feature Frog Head Grill’s bread pudding.

“We already have a great bread pudding,” Spayde said. “So we did not choose to do something new. We will put a little twist on it.”

All proceeds will benefit Extra Table, an organization that purchases and delivers healthy food in bulk to Mississippi food pantries and soup kitchens each month. One hundred percent of donations received through Extra Table are used specifically for its mission to purchase food and end hunger.

“Last year’s Five Course Feast raised enough money to feed 30,000 families in South Mississippi,” said Extra Table founder Robert St. John. “At a time of year when many are in the giving spirit, we hope to feed the hungry and raise top-of-mind awareness for those less fortunate along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.”

Hosted by Robert St. John and presented by Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, the Nov. 16 fundraiser will feature live cooking demonstrations in addition to the five course meal. Tickets are $100 each or a pair for $175. Tables of 10 are $1,000 without wine pairings, $1,500 with wine pairings and $2,500 with wine pairings and a VIP meet/greet reception with Robert St. John. In addition, a limited number of VIP seats are available at the Chef’s Table on stage.

To purchase tickets, visit www.fivecoursefeast.com or call 601.434.1680 with questions. Cocktail attire is recommended.

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Peter Anderson Brings Thousands To Ocean Springs

IMG_1348 Peter Anderson Brings Thousands To Ocean Springs

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The 39th annual Peter Anderson Arts and Crafts Festival is coming to a close, as today marks the last day for all of the vendors and festival attendees. Over 40,000 were expected to attend the festival to check out the arts in all forms. 

Five hundred vendors were set up along the streets of downtown Ocean Springs. From local pottery and jewelry makers to arts and crafts, there are a bountiful range of interesting finds at the festival. Many of the vendors traveled from places like Louisiana and Texas to sell their specialty products. Michael’s Pickles is one of the busier non-local booths with their homemade jellies and candied pickles coming all the way from Folsom, Louisiana. “We’ve enjoyed sharing our products with the people of Ocean Springs”, says a representative of the small business. 

A lot of Jackson County’s own local shops and businesses were set up as well. The Walter Anderson Museum of Art has had a booth for as long as the festival has existed. The art history behind the Anderson family is the reason for the founding of the museum and festival. According to WAMA, Peter Anderson had a love for pottery that was considered both functional, and artistic. 

Deadwood Studio’s featured pieces of their driftwood is another big-hit amongst the crowd. Steve Lankford says, “I’m not really sure on how I plan on using it, but I think it can serve as a cool piece for a hummingbird feeder.” 

The festival brings people and their love for art, music and food together, while being able to give back to the city of Ocean Springs. “It’s really all about shopping locally and being outside, walking the streets of downtown”, says Heidi Borque of Ocean Springs. “I love when I find an interesting piece from a shop right here within the community”, she said.

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Hocus Pocus Girls Night Out

hocus-pocus-2 Hocus Pocus Girls Night Out

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Join chef Cheri Hiers for a magical movie themed night-Hocus Pocus Girls Night Out. The event will be held at the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center on Friday, October 27 from 6:00-8:00 pm.

Guests will be able to select from a variety of Hocus Pocus themed menu items including: Blinx’s Olive Tapenade on Fresh Bread, Sanderson Sisters’ Brat Sausage, Circle of Salt Crusted Potatoes, Purple Cauldron Cabbage, and Billy Butcherson’s Eyeballs & Zombie Finger Cookies. Admission is $45 for members and $55 for nonmembers and includes two beverages. 

For more information, contact the Mary C. at 228-818-2878 or visit their website .

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Chevron Launches ‘Fuel Your School’ Campaign at Pecan Park Elementary


Chevron kicked-off its annual Fuel Your School campaign today with a delivery of school supplies worth approximately $10,000 to students at Pecan Park Elementary School in Ocean Springs.

Public schools in Jackson County face funding challenges similar to those nationwide, resulting in many teachers spending their own money to purchase materials for their students and classrooms. To help alleviate some of this need, Chevron has again launched the Fuel Your School campaign – a fund raising effort to help provide critical education resources to Jackson County schools. 

Beginning October 1st through 31st, Chevron will donate $1 dollar (up to $50,000) every time motorists purchase 8 gallons of fuel or more at participating Chevron or Texaco stations in Jackson County. Community members can track how much money is being raised in their city, as well as see funded projects and feedback from educators who have been helped by visiting www.FuelYourSchool.com.

Through the Fuel Your School campaign, educators at public schools in Jackson County, Miss., will have the opportunity to apply for new materials to enhance learning in their classrooms.  Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) related classroom projects will be considered for funding.


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St. John’s Features Little Free Library

St. John’s Episcopal Church recently unveiled a Little Free Library on the church campus. 

Lydia Cheney released the standing box library that was designed and constructed by her father, Dr. Ben Cheney of Biloxi Internal Medicine Clinic. 

The Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that inspires a love of reading, builds community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world.

According to their website, through Little Free Libraries, millions of books are exchanged each year, profoundly increasing access to books for readers of all ages and backgrounds.

The concept behind the library is for people to “take a book, return a book.” 

There are more than 50,000 registered Little Free Library book exchanges in the United States and in over 70 countries around the world. 

The church is located on the corner of Rayburn and Porter in Ocean Springs. 

For more information on The Little Free Library and its mission, visit littlefreelibrary.org.

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Ocean Springs Education Foundation Hosted Annual Drawdown Fundraiser

The Ocean Springs Education Foundation, otherwise known as OSEF, hosted their annual drawdown fundraiser party on Saturday following the theme “Tailgating for Teachers”.

This is the non-profit’s only fundraising event of the year. The foundation raises funds for grants awarded to educators who have conceived in notative educational programs for the students enrolled in the Ocean Springs School District. OSEF also offers several special awards to reinforce its mission and recognize innovation in the classroom. According to the foundation’s Facebook page, “Since its inception, more than $220,000 in grants has been awarded for programs in the Ocean Springs School District.”

The foundation’s purpose is to grant the teachers the opportunity to experiment and be real laboratories of learning experiences in the classroom It also provides money they probably would not get from the district. 

“We had an amazing turnout with lots of fun had by many, all to raise money for the great teachers within our school district. All the funds raised goes directly back into the classrooms by way of grants”, says a representative from the event. 

When OSEF awards the grants in the spring, it also recognizes two outstanding grant recipients from the previous year with an award of $500 each. In addition, a teacher who has been nominated by a student or parent receives the Pieper Niolon Teacher of the Year recognition each December. 

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9/11 Memorial and Harvey Aid Event in Ocean Springs

Today marks the 16th anniversary of  the 9/11 terror attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans. A commemoration is being held today on the 9/11 Memorial Plaza in New York, but for those who would like to honor the fallen heroes can do so tonight at the Ocean Springs Fire Department. 

The Ocean Springs Lions Club and the Ocean Springs Fire Department are hosting a free event to commemorate events on Sept 11, 2001, to salute first responders and to collect donations of survivors of Hurricane Harvey. It will be held from 5-7 p.m. at the Ocean Springs Fire Department, 3820 Bienville Blvd. 

Southern comfort barbecue will be served to the guests which will include state and local politicians 

Donations for Hurricane Harvey victims will also be collected at the event. Items that can be dropped off include: bottled water, canned foods, toys, pet supplies, blankets, tools, baby items, first aid supplies, box dinners, baby food, toiletries, hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, yard and lawn supplies, as well as cash donations.

For more information, go to Ocean Springs Lions Club page on Facebook or call 228-282-0525.

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Ocean Springs Celebrates 125 Years

The city of Ocean Springs is celebrating its 125th birthday on Saturday with a community parade, cake and reception downtown. clcbtw Ocean Springs Celebrates 125 Years

The parade will start at 1:00 p.m. with a lineup at 11 a.m. 

The city of Ocean Springs, spearheaded by alderman Rob Blackman and former alderman Chic Cody, will host the parade. The parade lineup will be at The Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center, 1600 Government St., travel west along Government to Washington, turn south on Washington, and end at the Ocean Springs Community Center where cake and refreshments will be served. 

The parade will feature Mayor Shea Dobson, and a float with the Board of Alderman aboard. City departments will have floats and the parade will feature the Old Biloxi Marching Club and classic cars.

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