Community group formed to support Candy Cane Lane


Following a fire at Candy Cane Lane founder Tim Murphy’s property Thursday morning that authorities are calling suspicious, a group of West Frankfort residents has formed to support Murphy and the famous Christmas display.

The cause of the fire, which burned a storage shed owned by Murphy, is still unknown. The building was used to house Candy Cane Lane displays as well as personal items owned by Murphy. Most display items were still out for the season, and were not damaged by the fire.

But numerous incidences of vandalism and theft have been reported at Candy Cane Lane this year, the most recent being on Christmas Eve, when vandals sliced holes in Murphy’s blow-up display items. They had been put in the shed to be repaired for next year and were burned up in the fire.

A small group of residents, including former and current Frankfort Community High School art students taught by Murphy, gathered at Candy Cane Lane Thursday night to collect donations, and then met at the West Frankfort McDonald’s to discuss how best to help.

“First and foremost, we have to make him (Murphy) feel like people are behind him and supporting him,” organizer Kerri Melvin said.

Group members said they want to raise enough money to make Candy Cane Lane more secure from vandals and thieves next year, possibly by installing camera surveillance, a fence behind Murphy’s property and/or hiring a security guard for the season.

The new group, which is being called “Friends of Candy Cane Lane,” collected $821 on Thursday night, from people driving through the neighborhood to show support.

They plan to set up an account at First Bank and begin accepting donations there after 1 p.m. today.

Update 12:55 p.m. 12/28/2012: The group has set up the account at Southern Illinois Bank. Donations can be sent to the Friends of Candy Cane Lane c/o Southern Illinois Bank, P.O. Box 128, West Frankfort, IL 62896.

The group discussed a number of fundraising ideas to be held throughout the year. Tentative plans call for an initial event in January that would feature a slate of bands and be called “Murph’s Winter Jam.” The group is searching for an appropriate venue for that event.

Other tentative events discussed for the year include a family-oriented mostaccioli dinner with a silent auction, and a poker run.

The group is looking for more volunteers and fundraising ideas. A second meeting is tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 4 at La Fiesta restaurant in West Frankfort.

A Facebook page has been set up here to disseminate information, and you can e-mail for more information.

John A. Logan angel tree helps 300 area children

JALC Student Senate member Ty Nance of Carterville and Adrienne Barkley Giffin, Director of Student Activities and Cultural Events, showcase donated Christmas presents that are to be distributed to 166 children in Southern Illinois thanks to the generosity of Logan students, employees and the general public. (Logan Media Services photo)

BY JOHN D. HOMAN, Logan Media Services

Another Angel Tree project coordinated by the Student Senate at John A. Logan College is in the books. And thanks to the generosity of students, college employees and the general public, 300 children in Southern Illinois enjoyed a brighter Christmas.

Adrienne Barkley Giffin, Director of Student Activities and Cultural Events at Logan, said representatives with the Neighbor to Neighbor and Adolescent Health Center agencies in Williamson and Jackson counties collected the donated gifts for 166 children.

Barkley and Student Senate members then spent $4,800 in donated cash to purchase gifts for another 134 children in the region for a total of 300 children served.

“That comes out to about $36 per child,” Barkley Giffin said. “Of course, we’d always like to do more, but every little bit helps.”

Barkley Giffin said the project touches lives in ways more than one can imagine.

“Just last week, we had a Logan student and three of her best friends, who are attending other colleges, decide they would pool their money, and instead of spending it on each other for gifts, would adopt a little girl from the Angel Tree and got everything on her list. They then bought the gifts together and wrapped them together. That was really sweet.”

Barkley Giffin said students have bills to pay, including tuition, books and fees, yet still think of others who are less fortunate.

“Even during Finals Week…to take the time to participate in Angel special.”

There was another instance of a woman who recently attended the Holiday Hop musical on campus and picked a child’s name from the Angel Tree.

“She said the Angel Tree is a blessing to her because she and her husband lost their daughter last spring and this was a way for them to take the time and money they were going to spend on their daughter for Christmas and apply it to this other child. It helps them deal with their grief during this holiday season.”

Barkley Giffin said some JALC employees help teach their own children about the joy of giving through projects like Angel Tree.

“It’s a way of teaching young people about a need in the communities in which they live,” she said. “It’s really amazing the response their children have, too. I know of one child who saved all of her allowance money throughout the year to spend on another child. Children are very generous. And so are our Logan employees. A lot of people have stopped me in the hall the last few weeks and asked me how they can help. It’s something fun for them to do. I also want to stress that this project is not just about the gifts. It’s about letting these kids know that they are worthwhile and are cared about.”

Angel Tree now up in Christopher awaiting gifts from public

 The Christopher Area Betterment Association’s “Angel Tree” project is asking for help from residents to provide gifts for deserving children this Christmas.

The tree is set up in the lobby of the Banterra Bank of Christopher, 506 N. Victor. To participate, you choose an ornament from the tree, which includes a child’s gender, age and other details to help you shop for gifts to brighten up his or her Christmas.

Gifts should be wrapped and taken back to the bank by Friday, Nov. 30, or to the Jaycees building at 106 S. Thomas St., Christopher on Monday, Dec. 3.

For more information about the Christopher Angel Tree program, call Banterra Bank’s Susie Williams at (618) 724-9416.

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