Editorial: Oxford Weeps Together
8/16/16, Print & Online
This past Sunday, every citizen of this town felt the loss of three wonderful couples, but none more so than the eleven children who went to bed Sunday night for the first time without parents. Agony for so many has just become a reality, and six gaping holes now leave a void in the tight-knit Oxford community.
When the times are this tough, Oxford weeps together.
Driving around town since the horrific accident has been tough. I wish to see the flag at full-mast, but that is not so. Flowers line the doors at the offices of the deceased, grief counselors pack the halls of Oxford schools, and hordes of mourners cry out as one. In a town as close as Oxford, the loss of any is immense, but the vastness of this latest tragedy has been felt by so many.
I cannot even begin to fathom what the children of those families are going through. Receiving the tragic call of a deceased parent is one that I hope to never receive, but the thought of eleven children getting the call to hear the horrifying news is a thought that most of us can not bear.
However, it was oddly comforting driving through Grand Oaks and seeing the masses of cars that had piled up on the streets just to comfort loved ones. It was touching to hear pastors speak of unity and prayer on the grounds of both Oxford High and Ole Miss. And it was consoling to see the outpouring of support on social media and in the community that these families have received.
We will never know why bad things happen to good people, and in times like these, similar questions plague the minds of many. But coming from the daughter of one of the couples, in times like these, it is vital to keep the faith. It is easy to break down and ponder the meaning of why, and it is hard to stick together and get through this. But stick together we must.
The residents of this great town are heartbroken, and justly so. Together, we mourn for the children, we mourn for the loved ones, and we mourn for the dead.
But now more than ever, these eleven children need our prayer, our aid, and most importantly, our presence. Let them know that they need not get through these tragic times alone.
It may be a nightmare that most of us wake up from in the morning, but for those eleven children, it just became a reality. In the coming days, we will mourn with you, we will weep with you, and we will begin to help you get through this.
To the children that now have no parents to go home to, we are here for you. And we will get through this together.
Homelessness needs more attention now
2/24/17, Print & Online
Sometimes lost in the world of a top-ranked district and brand new high school is the existence of a harsher reality that claims victim to many in the community. So much so, that some students don’t even know where they will be sleeping on any given night.
And this is in Oxford - the shining prodigal son of Mississippi. We claim home to the greatest schools, the best stores, the nicest houses, and the fanciest cars, yet Oxford is also home to a problem that so many other areas face - homelessness, and a gilded perception of a community without flaw.
There are currently 93 students in the Oxford School District registered as homeless, and that’s not counting the probable hundreds more that didn’t make the list. Yet, you don’t hear their cries for help, because in an area like Oxford, people choose to drown out the despair that some residents are burdened with, and instead focus on the positives.
Before writing the front page article, I was sitting in class and happened to hear a classmate of mine share a story on a time that she was without a home. I was taken back, because this was a student that I see no different than myself, a hard worker and a good person.
These students and these children are all around us, and they need our help. And for years, we have turned our backs on those who sit amongst us as friends and peers who are fighting a never-ending battle against homelessness.
Now, Oxford does have its benefits when people come calling for assistance, and the camaraderie truly shows. Organizations such as Lovepacks, More than a Meal, Interfaith Compassion Ministries, Doors of Hope, the Pantry, Jr. Auxiliary, and so many more are there to help. We are even blessed with a community organization, Housing for All, tasked with fighting homelessness in Oxford.
But I, like so many before me, was simply astonished when I heard the ghastly numbers associated with homelessness here in Oxford. I was ignorant to the issue facing our community, and I had simply turned a blind eye to the problem previously.
No more. We hope that shining a light on homelessness in Oxford will inspire many in the community to give back to those in need.
So much can be done in support, and we have miles to go before we can end this problem, but it begins one step at a time, and let’s start by recognizing that citizens of Oxford need our help.
Graphic by Davis McCool