In a recent poll by Walton EMC, their customers on Facebook were asked to name their favorite holiday light displays.
As reported in The Athens Banner-Herald, the No. 1 response was “Christmas in Dixie,” a large display at a home on the outskirts of Madison in Morgan County, but two places in Oconee County and one in Athens landed in the top five.
Located at 2300 Dixie Highway, “Christmas in Dixie” will continue to have lights on from 5:30-9 p.m. weeknights and until 10 p.m. on weekends, but on Christmas eve the lights stay on all night.
“We thought it was a good way to engage our Facebook followers. Some had asked us where can you see Christmas lights so we thought we’d try to compile and give the directions,” said Walton EMC Communications Director Greg Brooks.
“I hope it’s something we’ll do every year,” Brooks said, who also drove to the Madison home.
“They start like the day after Thanksgiving and they are there every night. It’s a big commitment,” Brooks said.
“We love doing this for the community each year,” Shane Seabolt, who started “Christmas in Dixie” for his daughters, told Walton EMC.
“It’s a great feeling to know that people like it enough to say we’re their favorite holiday display,” he said.
More than five years ago, the yard display grew to encompass a 2-acre lot and became a project between the Seabolt family and their neighbors, the McCurley family.
Seabolt said it takes almost six weeks to install the display, which includes thousands of lights and 150 inflatables.
The other four places selected by EMC Facebook followers were:
2. Nations Church, 8780 Macon Hwy., Athens. About 100,000 lights orchestrated to Christmas tunes are up through Dec. 31 from 6-10 p.m. nightly.
3. The Anderson Family Home, 1360 Cole Springs Rd., Bishop, is lighted from 6-11 p.m. For over 15 years the Andersons have filled their yard with an array of homemade displays. Guests are invited to roam the yard to see up close the displays from a manger to Santa’s workshop.
4. Chick-fil-A, 3637 Atlanta Highway, Athens from dark to 10 p.m. The 200,000 lights at the restaurant draw crowds nightly, owner Alex Clark told Walton. “Our desire was to design a destination place of rest, hope and light,” he said.
5. The Hornsby Family Home, 191 E. Hightower Trail, Social Circle, is lighted through New Year’s Day from 5-8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to midnight. Thousands of lights, animated displays, inflatables, a Christmas tree covered with more than 16,000 lights and a near-life size manger scene adorn the home of Michael and Carol Hornsby. Santa Claus visits for photos from 5-7 p.m. on Fridays through Sundays.
Since displays at homes everywhere are connected to power sources, Walton also provides residents information on safe decorating tips to avoid electrical hazards and fires during the holidays. See bit.ly/wemc_safe_decorating.
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After a disabled Athens woman got behind on rent as she was assisting her daughter with paying for the care of a sick child, the Clarke County Department of Family and Children Services sent the Athens Banner-Herald a request for assistance.
That’s when the Empty Stocking Fund sent her a $200 endowment to help cover what she needed for her rent, as reported in the Athens Banner-Herald.
An annual holiday fundraising campaign, the mission of the Empty Stocking Fund is helping poverty-stricken Athens residents who have been turned down or have been unsuccessful in securing sufficient financial aid through other organizations. Unlike some holiday fundraisers, proceeds are not used to buy toys or other holiday gifts. Instead, those funds are used to help families at risk of eviction pay their rent and take care of many other necessary expenses, including medical, light and water bills.
An area nonprofit agency refers recipients to the Empty Stocking Fund and the charity takes it from there.
To make a donation, make checks payable to Athens Area Community Foundation and send to P.O. Box 1543, Athens, GA 30603. Write Empty Stocking Fund in the memo line of the check.
Online donations can also be made by visiting athensareacf.org/giving/donate/. Write “Empty Stocking Fund” in the designation section.
For more information, contact Sarah McKinney at firstname.lastname@example.org or (706) 357-7148.
All referrals for assistance must be submitted by an area agency at email@example.com. Fund organizers had begun accepting referrals as of Dec. 1.
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While counseling sessions are considered some of the most costly health services offered at UGA, other SEC and Georgia universities do not charge anything for counseling sessions to currently enrolled students.
Unlike many other university health centers, the University Health Center offers dental and vision care. However, UHC prices for standardly offered services like counseling are typically higher than the rates at other universities, as reported in The Red & Black.
Kristine Groft, the senior communications coordinator for the UHC, said UGA’s counseling services range anywhere from $10-$47 for students who paid the health fee or from $27-$204 for students who did not. Counseling is free for students who paid health fees at several other universities including Louisiana State University, Auburn University, University of Arkansas, University of Florida, Georgia Tech, Georgia College & State University, Georgia State University and Kennesaw State University.
Daniel Martinez, a senior finance major from Alpharetta, has used counseling services at the UHC and said he wasn’t surprised by the prices.
“CAPs, obviously because it’s psychiatric services, are a little harder for pricing just because insurance doesn’t cover as much,” Martinez said.
The UGA health fee covers urgent care visits and routine medical needs.
The UGA health fee, however, is mandatory for students taking a minimum of six credit hours, though students taking less may also pay the fee to receive its benefits.
The health fee lets students visit their primary care provider without out-of-pocket costs — medical expenses not reimbursed by insurance providers. Procedures, lab and radiology services and pharmaceuticals prescribed during visits are at reduced prices for those who paid the health fee.
Jazmin Carswell, a junior advertising major from Macon, said she currently receives medical services elsewhere for cheaper general rates since she doesn’t have insurance.
“When I went the last two times I didn’t have insurance and … I think I ended up paying, without insurance, almost $100,” Carswell said. “I stopped going to the health center, and I actually started going to the Athens Health Clinic because it’s cheaper.”
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This past Sunday, Dec. 2, the public got a rare opportunity to tour the historic fraternity and sorority homes on Milledge Avenue for the 24th annual Classic City Tour of Homes.
As reported in The Red & Black, the University of Georgia chapter of Miracle, a student-led nonprofit organization that raises funds for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, hosted the event. Each of the 20 open houses had organization members ready to collect donations.
Each year, these sorority and fraternity homes at the University of Georgia are fully decorated for the holidays, and many homes also offered refreshments and vendors selling gift items with all proceeds benefiting UGA Miracle.
Some houses had local vendor booths like Mia Bella’s Boutique, a new local clothing and accessories store, set up while other houses sold food or drink.
Senior special education and general studies student, Ansley Roberts from Milledgeville, who has been a member of UGA Miracle since her freshman year oversaw the event.
“I wanted to get involved in something that I could give back and that was bigger than myself,” Roberts said. “[UGA Miracle] felt like the perfect thing because we get to interact with the kids that we help.”
Roberts mentioned how important the event is for their organization.
“Our events play a big role in our overall total for the year and we hope that our events get more people to want to be involved,” she said. “[The Classic City Tour of Homes] is a big part of our fundraising because there will be opportunities for people to donate at the event and all the ticket sales go to our total for the end of the year.”
Graduate historic preservation student, Savannah Young, was excited to be able to see inside the houses.
“Otherwise you just walk past them,” Young said. “I’ve been curious how [the houses have] been transformed into multi-resident space versus just the grand home they used to be.”
Patricia Rogers, attendee and mother of a UGA Miracle alumna, was also happy to be able to see into the houses.
“Coming to Athens, you always see these beautiful homes, and you always have a curiosity about what they look like on the inside,” Rogers said. “I think we’re getting to see them at their finest with all their Christmas finery, and I’m very interested in the details in the home since they’ve all been restored to their original state as much as possible.”
Rogers appreciates all the event and the organization does for the local community.
“This tour of homes is very indicative of Athens — how the community and the college intertwine with each other,” she said. “For the Greek life to support it as well by offering up their homes, I think is a very generous thing to do.”
Rogers, a resident of LaGrange, works at a partner hospital of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and is able to see how events like these contribute to the hospitals.
“Many times it’s used to buy new equipment or help offset the costs for families that can’t pay,” Rogers said. “Knowing how it works and seeing how it works gives me a great satisfaction, it’s all so worthwhile.”
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