Bobby Pepper

Lee County Neighbors is a Community based blog in Lee County written by Bobby Pepper. It is a companion product of The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal | | Journal Inc.

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Bobby Pepper | Daily Journal One of Patty's many roles as a “community volunteer” Is that of adult leader in Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts. She is a Cub Master for Pack 85 in Tupelo and serves on many committees in the Yocona Area Council.

Bobby Pepper | Daily Journal
One of Patty’s many roles as a “community volunteer” Is that of adult leader in Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts. She is a Cub Master for Pack 85 in Tupelo and serves on many committees in the Yocona Area Council.

By Bobby Pepper

Lee County Neighbors

Katrina Patty lists her main occupation as “housewife.” Her second job is that of “community volunteer.”

The exact location where the Belden resident works is unlimited. Patty’s jobs take her everywhere, and she wears a lot of hats in the process.

One day she may be working for the Salvation Army, the next for the Boy Scouts. She could raise money for a children’s hospital and then turn around and lead a group of workers in a football field concession stand. She feels just as comfortable serving coffee and cookies as she does teaching firearm safety.

Patty, 49, is constantly organizing, planning and working for numerous groups that help others. At the same time, she strives to perform her tasks without sacrificing her main role as a supportive wife, mother and grandmother.

“I’m juggling so many things,” Patty said during a break in her busy schedule on a recent Friday morning. “Balancing, that’s all I do.”


Patty speaks with enthusiasm about participating in a diverse collection of groups. Her outgoing personality is a major contrast to when she was a “pathetically shy” high school student in her hometown of Scottsboro, Ala.

“I did not say a word,” she said. “If you had told me in high school all the stuff I’m doing now, I would’ve said, ‘No, you’re reading the wrong future’.”

Patty’s community involvement in this area began in 2004, four years after she and her husband of 27 years, Jeff, moved to Belden. She had been a Mother’s Day Out program volunteer at their home in Georgia.

Bobby Pepper | Daily Journal Patty sits with her friend, Tupelo radio personality Kelli Karlson, at the Mall at Barnes Crossing during Angel Tree time. Karlson borrows Patty’s Scout tent when she spends three nights to promote the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary gift drive for children.

Bobby Pepper | Daily Journal
Patty sits with her friend, Tupelo radio personality Kelli Karlson, at the Mall at Barnes Crossing during Angel Tree time. Karlson borrows Patty’s Scout tent when she spends three nights to promote the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary gift drive for children.

“I don’t know if there’s something about me, but when I get involved after I become a member, within a year they’ve got me in a position,” she said. “Every one of the things I do, I fully have 100 percent belief in every bit of it.”

The first volunteering she did involved Boy Scouts. Her younger son, Matthew, was beginning and his Tiger Cub den needed leaders. Sons Matthew (age 12) and Chris (a 16-year-old Eagle Scout) are involved in Scouting and Patty is a leader for Pack 85 that meets at All Saints’ Episcopal Church.

Her years in Scout leadership opened the way for Patty to become a volunteer staff member for the Yocona Area Council. She is a trainer for adults on how to become leaders and has worked as a Camp Yocona summer camp leader. She was honored in 2012 with the District Award of Merit and the Apliachi District Cheerful Award.

Another endeavor began when Patty started collecting soda can pop tops for recycling – with the proceeds benefiting Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis. It opened the way for Patty to become involved in Le Bonheur volunteering. She helps with the annual Le Bonheur radiothon and silent auction at The Mall at Barnes Crossing.

It was through Le Bonheur events that Patty met Tupelo radio personality Kelli Karlson, who serves on the board of the Salvation Army. After they and other friends attended an Empty Bowls Luncheon, Patty connected with the Salvation Army and its Women’s Auxiliary leaders and got involved. She joined the committee that makes bowls for the annual luncheon fundraisers.

The bowls committee led to a bigger role for Patty as a chair for the auxiliary membership and for Angel Tree, which provides gifts and clothing for children during the Christmas holidays.

“That is a job,” she said of Angel Tree. “I have to fill 96 shifts at the mall running for five weeks. I need 200 people to fill those 96 shifts. We have three shifts a day, at least six to eight women to work a day, seven days a week for five weeks.”

Patty said her volunteering usually leads to her serving as a membership chair of the group. She keeps her lists of members, phone numbers, email addresses and schedules filed on the computer in her office – she calls it her “Ma’am Cave” – at home.

“Excel and Word are life savers,” she said. “I do everything on those. I have all kinds of spread sheets.”

In addition to being in Scouting, Patty’s sons are members of Tupelo school bands. Two years after serving with other band parents in the Tupelo High stadium concession stands during football season, she became the concession stand manager. Her scheduling and people managing skills are utilized through her role as vice president of the Tupelo High School band board.

Once she found time to sign up for the Citizens Police Academy, organized by the Tupelo Police Department. She went through the police academy training and became an NRA-trained and qualified firearm range safety officer.

“I love my range safety stuff,” she said. “I love teaching people. It’s not as bad as you’d think. You have to be safe. That’s what I do for fun, the range safety classes.”

Patty has served many roles at church, Harrisburg Baptist in Tupelo. She participates in Harrisburg’s Courthouse Ministry, which provides cookies and coffee for one week every three months to people by the second-floor courtrooms at the Lee County Justice Center.

She was a teacher in Harrisburg’s Wednesday night M&M’s kindergarten class for seven years before stepping away. One project dear to her is Operation Christmas Child. She organized Harrisburg’s holiday shoebox drive for several years, but had to drop it last year because of other commitments.

“I was heartbroken, but I made the decision,” she said. “Every so often I have to make a decision and drop something, and I had to drop Operation Christmas Child. But, I’m going to take it back next Christmas. I missed it so bad.”

Out of her shell

The once-quiet and shy Patty stepped up two years ago to organize her senior class 30-year reunion. She recalls the shock on classmates’ faces when she spoke during the reunion dinner.

Bobby Pepper | Daily Journal Patty’s collection of name tags and badges from her various volunteer and personal endeavors. As a membership chair for many organizations, Patty emphasizes the wearing of a name badge.

Bobby Pepper | Daily Journal
Patty’s collection of name tags and badges from her various volunteer and personal endeavors. As a membership chair for many organizations, Patty emphasizes the wearing of a name badge.

“One-half of the people in the class probably didn’t remember my name,” she said. “They didn’t know what my voice sounded like.”

Patty said she became more outgoing after entering the adult world – marrying and going to work while she and her husband lived in Virginia. She recalls thinking about volunteering back then, but didn’t have the time.

“I was around people and had to communicate,” she said. “I was a real estate agent and an insurance agent. I was getting out and meeting people, talking with people. Coming out of the shell opened doors for me.”

Patty said she’s learning how to say “no” when she feels pulled in too many directions. And she even confesses she isn’t the perfect community worker.

“I’m a huge procrastinator,” she said with a laugh. “Look it up in the dictionary; there’s me. I’m just not an organized person.”

Karlson, who often mentions her friend on her Wizard 106 morning show, said it’s hard to find someone with a heart for service like Patty’s.

“She is selfless, generous to a fault,” Karlson said. “She sees only the best in people and will help anyone she comes across. … She gives of herself with no regard of what she might get in return.”

Patty said her biggest reward of her activities is helping others.

“Like the Salvation Army, it’s not just helping the homeless, it’s the people who come in and don’t have any food. We’re able to stock the pantry in their home,” she said. “And like Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, I enjoy helping Cub Scouts become responsible and helping Boy Scouts to become better men.”

Family time has a permanent spot in Patty’s hectic schedule. She keeps the roads busy to Amory to see her daughter, Alicia, and three granddaughters. And when she’s home, Patty takes every opportunity to relax.

“When I get a few minutes, I like to dust the seat of my recliner,” she said. “I kick up my feet and watch TV.

“I still take care of the house and find time to do the laundry. I run my boys everywhere and I teach my granddaughters how to do cartwheels in the back yard. It’s balancing your time.”

Patty enjoys her “community volunteer” job, but she’s committed to the duties of her main role.

“I’m a mother,” she said. “If something comes up and I have to pick one of my organizations or the mother part, mother overrules.”

By Bobby Pepper/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Regardless of his audience, whether it was Civitans from around the world or a banquet in Northeast Mississippi, Charlie Mullinnix always left them laughing with his down-home humor.
“Charlie’s the only person I know who could tell the same jokes over and over and get a big laugh every time,” said Clifton Hodges, a close friend of the late Tupelo resident. “I reckon it was his unique way of telling stories.”
Mullinnix, who died Wednesday night at age 91, was a longtime local and regional civic leader who earned the nickname “Mr. Civitan” for his involvement in the civic organization. His recruitment of new members helped make the Tupelo Luncheon Civitan Club “the world’s largest Civitan Club.”
The Luncheon Civitans held the “world’s largest” title for almost two decades. Civitan International retired the award in 2006 and gave the club permanent possession of the award banner. The club now has 145 members and is the largest Civitan group in the United States, according to current president Russ Wilson.
Mullinnix, who joined Civitan in 1953, was the club’s president in 1957-58 and was its secretary for many years. He recruited 278 people to join Civitan and became a master club builder, helping start clubs throughout the Southeast.
“There are people all over the world that know about Tupelo, Mississippi, because of Charlie,” Wilson said. “They may not remember his name, but they say, There was this guy who visited our club from Tupelo, Mississippi, who was just hilarious and he talked about the world’s largest Civitan club.”
As club secretary, Mullinnix would share his joyful wisdom with new members while presenting their Civitan pins.
Wilson said, “Charlie would tell them, ‘Wear this pin, wear it proudly, and it will help you everywhere you go except on the …’and then everyone shouts ‘the Natchez Trace Parkway.’ Charlie always followed up by saying, ‘Where it ain’t worth a dime’. That’s because he got a ticket once on the Natchez Trace Parkway, and he told them he was in Civitan going to a meeting. It didn’t make any difference. He still got the ticket.”
Mullinnix also served as a lay speaker and leader in the United Methodist Church. He was a frequent speaker at local events like banquets and fundraisers, sharing his storytelling with a variety of people.
In 1982, the Junior Auxiliary of Tupelo selected Mullinnix its Outstanding Citizen Award winner for his community service.
“He spoke at everything you can imagine – school groups, church groups. He went near and far,” said Hodges, a Luncheon Civitan who shared the same table with Mullinnix at Thursday meetings. “Charlie was a part of the Civitan fish cooking team, and we’d cook fish for different groups. A lot of times Charlie would be the program, so we would hear him.”
Hodges said Mullinnix’s presence in Civitan and the community will be missed.
“We lost a good man,” Hodges said. “There will never be another one like him.”

By Bobby Pepper/NEMS Daily Journal

Matthew Gumm couldn’t take it any longer. Weighing 310 pounds, the Mooreville teen told his mother he was tired of being made fun of because of weight, tired of being rejected by girls, tired of feeling depressed.
“He felt so bad about himself that he was starting to shut himself off from other people,” Pam Gumm said. “”He told me, ‘Momma, I’ve got to do something’.”
That day, Matthew enrolled in a health club. Sixteen months later, a much slimmer Gumm walked into the same club to work out. During a break, the 18-year-old pulled out his smartphone to show a “before” photo of himself.
“I was a big ole boy back then,” Gumm said.
The “after” Gumm is a fit 6-foot-2, 200-pound senior at Mooreville High School. His weight loss was not a result of surgery or a fad diet, but of willpower fueled by regular exercise and healthy eating.
The weight loss has brought a change in lifestyle for Gumm, and he’s humbled by the results.
“I don’t want to take it for granted,” he said. “This doesn’t make me better than anyone else. I want to be humble about it. I want to help others.”
The only child of Jimmy and Pam Gumm, Matthew began his struggles with obesity just before he turned 10. This was evident in the photos Pam had compiled for her son’s scrapbooks detailing his life.
“You can see when it started happening to him,” she said, looking at a collection of her son’s preteen photos. “I didn’t see my child like that. He was my kid. He wasn’t overweight to me.”
Matthew was 15 and a freshman at Saltillo High School when he reached 300 pounds. He transferred to Mooreville after that year.
As he weight increased, Gumm’s self-esteem decreased.
“There were a bunch of people who wouldn’t talk to me,” he said. “I had a lot of trouble with girls. They wouldn’t talk to me, period, and that really hurt. It was rejection after rejection after rejection.”
When Gumm reached his breaking point in October 2011, his parents allowed him to join Anytime Fitness on East Main in Tupelo.
Pam Gumm said she would have resisted signing him up earlier, but she realized he needed help.
“At that point, I knew I couldn’t put it off,” he said. “I had to do it for him.”
Going to the gym and working out for almost an hour became part of his daily routine. The cardiovascular workouts helped him shed the excess weight.
“I put a lot of hours into those machines,” he said. “That’s what made me lose a lot of fat.”
And as Gumm began losing the pounds, others took notice.
“I usually spend 30 minutes on cardio,” he said, “but one day, a girl walked in and she wanted me to get on there with her. You know, girls influence you. I stayed on it for an hour and a half.”
Then, he paused and smiled. “That was a rough day,” he said.
Gumm also changed his eating and drinking habits. Fast food and soft drinks were out. He eats about 2,500 calories and drinks up to 10 16 ounce bottles of water a day.
“If it doesn’t swim or fly, I don’t eat it,” he said. And his mom added, “He doesn’t touch bread anymore.”
A balance of diet and exercise is vital to losing weight, Gumm said.
“You can’t lose weight sitting in front of the TV,” he said. “Thirty minutes in the gym is better than 30 minutes of TV.
“I was told you can’t cheat in a marriage and expect the marriage to work. You can’t cheat on a diet and expect it to work,” Gumm added. “It’s all about putting the right foods into your body and making sure you’re burning more calories than you’re taking in.”
Better health means a better social life for Gumm. He had a girlfriend his senior year, his first since the fifth grade.
Gumm’s mother is proud of his change.
“He’s done such an awesome job,” she said. “I’d like to get up the willpower to do what he has done.”
Gumm, who played football at Mooreville, will graduate in May. He plans to attend Itawamba Community College and then the University of Mississippi to earn a degree in criminal law. He plans a career in law enforcement.
Learning from his own personal experience, Gumm encourages other teenagers who struggle with weight issues not to let others bully or discourage them.
“You have to train like your worst enemy is watching you,” he said. “If you have a dream, protect it. People who can’t do things themselves, they’ll tell you you can’t do it. If you want something, you have to go get it.
“It’s something you have to do for yourself,” he adds. “You have to decide in your heart and your mind if you want to do it. Ultimately, it’s going to change everything.”

By Bobby Pepper/NEMS Daily Journal

In today’s society, individuals who struggle with life’s issues are sometimes referred to as “those people.”
It’s “those people,” according to their critics, who have all the alcohol, drug and relationship problems – not them. There’s no need for them to attend any kind of meeting because all is perfect in their world.
But when you attend a recovery meeting, you meet everyday people who are honest with themselves. They step out of denial to confront their hurts, habits and hang-ups. They’re mechanics, housewives, fast food employees, teachers, nurses, construction workers, businessmen … even someone whose articles and photographs have appeared in this newspaper the past 27 years.
Yes, I’m one of “those people.”
My addiction – selfish behavior and poor decisions – cost me a 25-year marriage. I hurt a lot of people. The pain I caused myself and others sent me into a severe depression to the point where I often thought about suicide.
God, however, had a plan for me. On March 8, 2011, he led this broken man to Cross Pointe Ministries in Tupelo for a program called Celebrate Recovery. I found out I no longer had to wear a mask to hide my shame and guilt or live in the enemy’s darkness. There was healing and freedom for me through our higher power – Jesus Christ.
The past 19 months have been a journey to recovery only God could’ve laid out. Through faith-based recovery – working the 12 steps and living by the eight principles of CR – and Christian and secular counseling, I’ve come to grips with issues such as resentment, lust, divorce and codependecy.
I’ve been involved in Celebrate Recovery groups in Tupelo and Starkville, and I’m one of the leaders of a CR group in Saltillo. I’ve shared my personal testimony twice, and I currently lead men’s step study groups in Starkville and Saltillo. The Cross Pointe CR group has since evolved into its own Break-in-Pointe ministry, and it continues to reach out to so many.
Recovery isn’t easy. I’ve recently struggled with depression, but I’m doing better. I’ll always be a work in progress; I’m still maturing spiritually. God has put so many wonderful people in my path who, like me, have experienced the same story of brokeness. We encourage and support one another.
If you’re struggling with an addiction or carrying the baggage of your life, now is the time to unload it. You do not have to go through it alone. You’d be surprised to learn at these recovery meetings how many people have experienced the same thing you’re going through. It’s a safe place where you can open up and get real with others.
When you turn it over to Christ and surrender to his will, we find healing and victory. Romans 8:37 (NIV) says, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” That is my life verse in Celebrate Recovery.
Recently, I’ve become a fan of Jesus Culture, a California-based worship band. One of its songs has become an anthem for recovery: “There is power in the name of Jesus … to break every chain, break every chain, break every chain.”
Breaking the chains is a part of being one of “those people.”
BOBBY PEPPER is editor of Lee County Neighbors. Contact him at (662) 678-1952 or email him at

By Bobby Pepper/Lee County Neighbors

NETTLETON – Diarra Giddens was handed “Desmond,” a 1-month-old baby boy, on a Wednesday and told to take care of his every need until the next Monday.
When Monday arrived, a tired Giddens was eager to hand him back.
“I couldn’t get any sleep at night,” said Giddens, a Nettleton High School freshman. “It woke up every 10 to 15 minutes.”
“Desmond” isn’t a real baby. It’s a computerized infant simulator that has the lifelike look, weight, emotions and sounds of a month-old child.
Giddens, 15, and his classmates in Jackie Allmond’s child development class at Nettleton High School each took home a simulator to get firsthand experience of feeding, burping, rocking and diapering a baby around the clock.
“The babies are programmed like a newborn would be with their schedule,” said Allmond, whose class is part of the school’s family/consumer science program. “It’s a good opportunity for the kids to feel the responsibility of being a parent without endangering new babies. It’s a wake-up call to the students.”
Allmond first began delivering the Realityworks RealCare babies to her students in 2003. The students learn how to balance their lives between parenting and other activities and responsibilities.
“They’re having to do classwork,” Allmond said. “Some of them have jobs and some are in sports. They have to learn how to juggle all of that.”
The students receive a project grade that counts the same as a test, Allmond said.
While caring for the interactive baby, each student fills out a “baby book” to list the child’s every action and what was done for it. The simulator program monitors all care, records neglected care opportunities and any abuse or mishandling.
“You have to document when you feed it, when it cries,” said freshman Jonteesha Ruff, 15, who was the mother of “Nikki” during the project. “It irritated me when it woke up in the middle of the night at different hours.”
Lynn Edwards, an 18-year-old junior who cared for “Kaylee,” said the project is a humbling introduction to parenting.
“It was a learning experience,” she said. “Once you figure out (the baby), it’ll get quiet and then it’ll start over again. A real baby is a lot harder to take care of.”
Edwards’ advice to fellow teens: “Don’t have a baby at a young age. I have friends who’ve had kids, and it doesn’t seem easy at all.”

By Bobby Pepper/Lee County Neighbors

The earliest memory of David Jones’ life is one of him holding a baby. Jones, a Saltillo resident, was 4 when that moment was stored in his mind. He doesn’t recall the identity of the baby, but he can’t forget what he did afterward.
“I remember going across the street because Mother had left and the babies were crying and needing milk,” Jones said. “So, I went across the street to get some milk.”
The mother and the babies soon were gone from his life. Jones was put up for adoption and eventually taken in by a family in his Indiana hometown.
Jones, however, wasn’t sheltered from the fact that he was adopted. His curiosity led him to discover his birth name and the identities of his mother and five younger half-siblings.
Jones has reconnected with most of them through phone calls, emails and social networking. During a trip back home to Indiana, he met one of his half-sisters for the first time and saw his half-brother for the first time in almost 20 years.
There still are a few holes in Jones’ life story that will take more time to be filled. Some may never be.
“I’m OK with that. It is what it is,” Jones said. “The one thing I’ve taken away from it all is God definitely has had a hand in my life.”
Born David Joseph Archer on April 29, 1970, Jones was the first child of a teenage mother in Brazil, Ind., a city located about 60 miles west of Indianapolis. Archer was his mother’s maiden name. Today, he refers to his biological mother by her first name, Janice.
Jones said he and two other children – a boy and a girl – were removed from the home by the Department of Human Services when he was 4. He was adopted by a family that provided a stable home environment.
“I always knew I was adopted,” Jones said. “They never kept that from me. My parents said when I got old enough and wanted to find my birth parents, they would help me.”
At age 16, Jones saw a girl at his high school say something to his adopted father. Jones sought her out to ask what she said.
“She said they had adopted my half-brother,” Jones said.
This bit of information led Jones to find his half-brother, Jack Means, who is two years younger. Jones recalls noticing their similar physical similarities – dark hair, high cheekbones. Jack had been adopted by an uncle and aunt.
“When I met Jack, that’s when I started getting the story from his mom, and that I had three sisters and they were a lot younger,” Jones said.
Jones’ birth mother married and kept the oldest daughter, Millie, and had two more daughters, Jessica and Jennifer. Their given name is Stultz. Janice was married a second time a few years later and had a son, Kenny Shelton.
Jones enlisted in the Air Force after high school and was stationed in South Korea when Carl Stultz, the paternal grandfather of Jones’ half-sisters, died. Stultz also was a second cousin to Jones’ adopted father. Jones said his sisters reached out to his father to say they wanted to meet Jones.
Following his Air Force duty, Jones enrolled in Mississippi State University to study architecture. Jones, who was 23 at the time, was ready to seek out his birth mother’s identity, and his adopted mother told him. From Jack’s family, he got a phone number and called her at her home in Gary, Ind. They had arranged to meet in Indianapolis during the holiday break from college, but the plans fell through.
“She said she didn’t want to meet me,” Jones said. “That crushed my spirits. It hurt.”
Jones remained in Mississippi to start his career and family. He’s the director of Plans and Services at Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg. He also continued to seek more information about his own birth family and began connecting with them.
“I kept pursuing and wound up becoming Facebook friends with all of them,” he said. “Several friends got me to Jack, and then to my sisters and then to Janice. We’ve talked a lot and stay in communication with her, but I still haven’t met her.”
The closest he’s come to meeting his mother was four years ago when he took his three sons to Florida on vacation. Janice had relocated to a city near Tampa. Jones also found out during this time that sister Jessica Garren had cancer.
When Jones reached Tampa and contacted Janice to arrange a meeting, Janice told him Jessica was too sick to travel and Jones left without seeing them. Jessica died on Jan. 25, 2010.
Jones decided in 2011 to visit Indiana during the Christmas holidays, giving him a chance to see Jennifer – the youngest of his three sisters – for the first time along with Jack, now living in Terre Haute, and other family and friends.
In a telephone interview from her home in Brazil, Ind., Jennifer Stultz said she first spoke to Jones in 2005.
“I’ve been wanting to meet him ever since,” she said. “We were never at the same place at the same time. I was nervous, but I was real eager to see him face to face and see all the things we have in common.
“When I saw him, I thought, ‘Oh, yeah. We’re definitely related’.”
Jones and his sisters also share facial similarities in the dark hair, high cheekbones and eyes. It took a few minutes before Jones and Stultz opened up to each other.
“It was awkward at first, but then we started talking about the story. To hear Jennifer’s side of the story, there are some tweaks that are a little different. But it was cool to see them and see where they are in life.”
Jones has not met Millie, who he thinks was the baby he was holding when he was 4. Millie Stultz-Campbell, who’s four years younger than Jones, resides in east Tennessee.
“She’s disappointed that she hasn’t had a chance to meet him,” Stultz said of her older sister. “I think they may have seen each other in high school, but she wasn’t sure it was him.”
Jones said he’s eager to meet Millie, Janice and Kenny someday.
“(Janice) is still in Florida,” Jones said. “The way my life is, it can happen at any time. A lot of it will probably be up to her. I don’t know where she stands on her wanting to meet me face to face. We Facebook each other and she can see pictures of her grandkids.”
Stultz believes a reunion is possible. “I’d like to see all of us get together some day,” she said. “The last time I spoke to my mom about it, she said she really wants to see him, too.”
One person Jones knows he may never meet is his biological father, and he’s accepted that fact.
“Nobody really knows who my birth father is,” he said. “Their dad (referring to the father of Jack and his sisters) says I’m his, but there’s never been any paternal testing or anything like that.
“They may be full-blooded, they may be half-blooded,” Jones added about of his siblings. “I don’t know and I don’t really care. I know they’re siblings and that’s what really matters.”

By Bobby Pepper/Lee County Neighbors

TUPELO – Before dipping her spoon into a bowl of potato soup, 11-year-old Chandler Head paused to think about the people who struggle to find something to eat every day.
Chandler, a home-schooled sixth-grader, was one of hundreds Wednesday who attended the 14th annual Empty Bowls Luncheon. Proceeds from the event support The Salvation Army’s effort to feed the needy.
“It’s a great cause,” said Chandler, who lives in the Brewer community in Lee County. “All the money goes to their meals. By getting our food, we’re giving them food.”
Sponsored by Salvation Army’s Women’s Auxiliary, the Empty Bowls Luncheon gives patrons a chance to buy soup, pottery, cakes and other items to help the nonprofit’s food program. In 2011, the Army served 76,441 meals in Tupelo and tornado-ravaged Smithville.
This year’s event drew a large turnout that kept 40 tables in the Tupelo Furniture Market Building V filled. Fifty restaurants and organizations served soup, which the ticketholders enjoyed with bread and bottled water.
“As soon as we opened up the soup line at 11 a.m., the tables were almost all full immediately afterward,” said Empty Bowls chairwoman Karla Joblin.
Salvation Army Maj. Sue Dorman was excited to see the huge crowd. Each person who purchased a ticket received a souvenir ceramic bowl as a reminder of the hungry who live in the area.
“When they come here, they’re made more aware that people are going without food, and sometimes soup is all they may have,” Dorman said.
The luncheon left an impression on two first-time attendees.
Rika Okamoto, a native of Japan living in Tupelo, was invited to the luncheon by her English tutor, Auxiliary volunteer Marguerite Johnson, and friends who attended in 2011.
“It’s much bigger than I expected,” Okamoto said. “They told me about last year, how the soups were fantastic. My English teacher told me there were 50 soups we can try.”
Winnie Crawford, who moved to Tupelo from Michigan, was glad to see the community support for it.
“All classes and all levels of people are here,” she said. “There is a need in our community, and the poor will always need our help. It’s godly for us to embrace and help others.”
For the first time, the luncheon featured a celebrity fashion show to raise additional money. The celebrities walked from table to table soliciting donations to win the title of fashion king and queen. Dr. John Vaughn and Mary Werner were the winners, and the celebrities combined to raise $6,273.81, according to fashion show organizer Jenny Lynn Johnson.

By Bobby Pepper/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Hundreds of people will line up Wednesday for a bowl of soup in support of the Salvation Army’s food program.
In addition to the soup sales, the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary finds other ways to raise money to feed the hungry and needy in the community. This year’s luncheon at the Tupelo Furniture Market Building 5 includes a fashion show and a kitchen boutique.
Karla Joblin, Women’s Auxiliary president, said volunteers will be modeling outfits from the Salvation Army thrift store or that will be donated to the shop.
“They’ll go around modeling the outfits and collect money,” Joblin said. “Whoever collects the most money will be crowned the Fashion King and Queen.”
An addition to the bake sale, a popular Empty Bowl section, is a kitchen boutique. A featured item will be slump bottles, which are glassware melted to make a tray or a decoration.
“It’s an all-purpose bottle,” said Bake Sale chairwoman Betty Reece. “Some are spoon rests. They can be decorative or you can put dips, chips, cheese and crackers on them.”
The kitchen boutique will include a variety of items, Reece said.
“We have many other things that are homemade, and you can’t buy anywhere else,” she said. “We have towels, aprons, all kinds of kitchen items. We’re hoping this would boost our sales.”
For the third year, BancorpSouth will participate in the event with its Bankers Can Bake. Bank personnel will provide meals with the proceeds going to Empty Bowls.
Auxiliary members, friends and volunteers are donating cakes, pies, cookies, complete meals and non-perishable items to the bake sale.

WHAT – The Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary Empty Bowls Luncheon

WHEN – Wednesday, Feb. 29, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Bake sale at 10; soup line opens at 11.

WHERE – Tupelo Furniture Market, Building 5, 1879 North Coley Road.

COST – $15. Includes selection of signature soups from area restaurants, churches and organizations, plus water, bread and souvenir handmade ceramic bowl.

INFO – (662) 231-2879

By Bobby Pepper/Lee County Neighbors

TUPELO – The soup will be served a week later than usual, but the purpose of The Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary Empty Bowls Luncheon hasn’t changed.
This year’s Empty Bowls Luncheon is set for Wednesday, Feb. 29, at the Tupelo Furniture Market Building V. The luncheon raises money for The Salvation Army’s food program.
A scheduling conflict at the Furniture Market building forced the change from the luncheon’s traditional Ash Wednesday date.
“(Feb. 29) was the only Wednesday available in February that the Furniture Market could let us have the building,” said Karla Joblin, president of Salvation Army’s Women’s Auxiliary. “They had other things going on.”
Joblin doesn’t think the change will affect attendance. She said the luncheon averages between 2,000 and 3,000 patrons.
“A lot of people attend Ash Wednesday services at 12 o’clock, so now they might be able to come now to the luncheon,” she said.
The Women’s Auxiliary donated $50,000 from last year’s luncheon to help the Army feed the hungry and needy.
For a $15 luncheon ticket, each person will receive a bowl of soup provided by area restaurants, churches and organizations, a piece of bread and a bottle of water. They’ll also receive a handmade ceramic bowl as a reminder that someone’s bowl is always empty.
The luncheon also features a popular bake sale with cakes, pies, cookies, complete meals and sugar-free and nonperishable food items. Bake sale items can be brought to the Furniture Market on Feb. 28, or the day of the luncheon.
Also on tap are two new fundraising events: a fashion show starring volunteers who will wear outfits that will be auctioned off and a kitchen boutique with bake sale items and slump bottles – glass bottles molded into trays, dishes or utensil rests.

What – Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary Empty Bowls Luncheon

When – Wednesday, Feb. 29, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Bake sale starts at 10 a.m. Soup line opens at 11 a.m.

Where – Tupelo Furniture Market, Building V, 1879 North Coley Road

Tickets – $15

Take out/curbside pick up pre-orders – Call
(662) 213-7596 or (662) 844-2006.

For tickets and other information, call (662)

By Bobby Pepper | NEMS Daily Journal

Kari Schwan is willing to walk 60 miles through Atlanta if someday it leads to a cure for breast cancer.
Schwan, a Tupelo High School senior, will take part in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day For The Cure, a three-day fundraising walk Oct. 21-23. She’s one of five women on a team nicknamed “Pink For Life.”
Schwan, 17, is walking in memory of her late grandmother, Vera Owen, a breast cancer survivor.
“She was an influential part of my life as well as my family,” Schwan said. “She was a role model. She was a fighter. I wanted to do it in memory of her.”
Previous family participation also influenced Schwan’s decision to join in.
“My cousin walked in it last year in memory of our grandmother as well. She loved it. She inspired me and I wanted to help,” she said. “We also have several friends who have fought breast cancer, and we’re doing it in honor of them as well.”
The 3-Day for the Cure is split into 20-mile walks each day. “We’ll walk about three to five miles at a time and then break,” Schwan said. “We’ll do 20 miles a day and then we’ll camp out at night in pink tents.”
Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves, will host the closing ceremony. “I’m anxious and excited to get there,” she said.
Schwan has been raising money and preparing herself for the vigorous walk.
“I work and I go to school, so it’s been tough to do that and fundraising,” she said. “But I’ve been walking every few days. The last time I walked, I walked 12 miles. I zig-zag my way through the neighborhood and back.”