Locally Owned Holiday Gift Guide
Written by Chris Miller
There's no need to fight with shoppers at big box chains to find the perfect holiday gift for your friends, acquaintances and loved ones. In fact, there are a plethora of unique choices here in the Akron area, gifts provided by locally owned businesses, and many of these gifts so unique that they will have a lasting impact on the recipient, a piece of this city. From art, food and experience gifts that won't clutter your house, to unique items that are made from upcycled and recycled materials, we'd like to present the Akronist's Inaugural Locally Owned Holiday Gift Guide.
We've arranged entries by category. We also encourage you to frequent these amazing local businesses and organizations long after the holiday season.
The Gay Community Endowment Fund of Akron Community Foundation is accepting grant applications for projects that support, enhance and educate the community regarding the 2014 Gay Games presented by the Cleveland Foundation. Coming to Cleveland and Akron in August 2014, the Gay Games is a world-renowned sports and culture festival that emphasizes inclusion and participation.
In October, the Gay Community Endowment Fund announced a $100,000 commitment to the 2014 Gay Games, making the fund the official host sponsor of 2014 Gay Games sports in Akron and Summit County. A portion of those funds will be used to award grants of up to $5,000 for projects that support the Gay Games, including arts and culture events, LGBT programming, and diversity projects.
Grants will not be made for the purchase of tickets to Gay Games activities, including the opening and closing ceremonies. All projects must be conducted in Summit County.
The Salvation Army recently hosted the sixth Annual Project RISE Parent RISE-ing Harvest Dinner for the students and families in varying homeless situations in the Akron Public School District. The Harvest Dinner gives these families and youth who are experiencing homelessness the opportunity to celebrate this festive time of year with food, fun and friendship. The evening included arts and literacy activities, parent-child activities, Thanksgiving dinner, giveaways, and entertainment.
With more than 150 people in attendance, the event would not have been as successful without the help of some special volunteers. Many volunteers were from Debra Manteghi's Family Homelessness Class from the University of Akron were in attendance at the event. The class spans over two weekends and teaches students about causes and effects of homelessness as well as laws surrounding the issue.
Several of these volunteers were members of the Zips football team, which delighted the children young and old! The students were able to help set up, clean up and help the young students with their activities.
Earlier in November, the students in the Family Homelessness Class got an in-depth look at Akron's Project RISE and how the organization helps children and families experiencing homelessness.
When Jessica Paris comes across old, outdated furniture, she sees the potential for something so much more. "I like the fact that it has good bones and structure and they don't make it like that anymore," said Paris, who owns J Paris Designs in Cuyahoga Falls. "You can turn something really old and ugly and outdated into something beautiful."
At Paris' store, 13 to 15 artists and designers offer their wares. Paris' speciality is furniture, like tasteful bits of color added to antiques, and chalkboard paint over wood surfaces, and her artists sell soy candles, repurposed frames made from barn wood and pillows, among the inventory.
Walking into the store, a customer is met with an eclectic array of colorful furnishings, but it's in no way cluttered or "thrift store" like. Everything fits in its place. And even the displays are recycled, as pallets serve as shelves and repainted industrial radiator covers offer their efforts as tables.
The Northeast Ohio Blues Association will present Blues @ The Civic featuring Colin John and an opening performance by The Juke Hounds on Friday, Jan. 17 at 8 p.m. in an intimate cabaret setting.
Colin John an accomplished, versatile musician, with both his guitar prowess and passionate singing. His engaging acoustic and electric styles are amazing.
Based on The Big Island of Hawai'i, Colin John, "The Transpacific Bluesman" is internationally regarded and recognized as a unique musician, possessing world class skills on acoustic, resonator and electric guitars.
The Juke Hounds formed in late 2006, and ventured on a special mission to put the "Juke" spin on the standard "Blues Sound". By adding a high energy approach, an uplifting twist to the songs, and upbeat musicianship, The Juke Hounds built a loyal following regionally.
Julie Barnes, executive director of Stark County Job and Family Services (SCJFS), was officially named the next Executive Director of Summit County Children Services (SCCS) at a special Board of Trustees meeting Nov. 14. Ms. Barnes succeeds John Saros who is retiring as SCCS Executive Director at the end of 2013 after leading the agency for more than six years.
The SCCS Board of Trustees' Search Committee recommended Ms. Barnes as its top finalist for the position in mid-October after a nationwide search that lasted several months, and introduced her to the community at a reception held at Children Services on October 30. She will officially begin her new duties on December 23, and her three-year contract calls for a salary of $145,000 per year.
At SCJFS, Ms. Barnes has led a triple-combined agency including Human Services, Child Support and Children Services with approximately 475 staff and an annual budget of approximately $50 million. Before becoming Executive Director there in June 2008, she had served as Deputy Director of Children Services from May 2007-May 2008.