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With all of the challenges the year 2020 has brought to the table, a local non-profit group is aiming to bring some joy to the upcoming holiday season.

“A Community Christmas”, slated for Saturday, Dec. 5 at Twin Lakes Resort, 273 Tackett Road, Piketon, has been organized by Community & Company, a new non-profit organization.

Community & Company is currently being led by Jennifer Buckler, Ryan and Crystal Roberts, and Kelly O’Bryant. “A Community Christmas” will feature a vendor event from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. filled with local businesses offering goods and services. There will be a free craft for children to make and take, a food truck, several Christmas trees donated by businesses for a silent auction and a massage therapist available for $1 per minute. Then from 7 to 10 p.m., there will be a concert featuring Nolan Taylor and Wyatt and Holly McCubbin. Tickets for the concert are available on the Community & Company Facebook page.

In years past, the Waverly area has celebrated the coming of the Christmas season with the annual Jingle Bell Parade and other events themed around the weekend. But the Jingle Bell festivities will not be happening this season.

“At the time we began planning the event, our goal was to add to the Jingle Bell event focusing specifically on local businesses,” said Buckler. “After meeting with AJ Pritchett and hearing that they were not able to host the event this year, we tried to restructure a little bit and offer more for our community, while being safe of course.”

The location is a relatively new venue, located on Tackett Lane off Shuster Road. According to Buckler, it is owned by Michelle and Jason Brown and Billy and Angel Glass.

“The event hall is absolutely gorgeous, and each time I go out there is something new or improved. Their venue is perfect for hosting weddings, birthday parties, graduation, or any other event. Michelle and Angel have been so easy to work with, and they are dedicated to making our community better.”

The idea for Community & Company as an organization came during the COVID-19 shutdown.

“I was actually invited to a Zoom call during quarantine by Kelly Roberts. She and PA residents Ryan and Crystal Roberts were wanting to host online music events to raise money to give back to those in need during such a difficult time. From that first Zoom call, our vision and conviction to ‘do better’ for our community has continued to expand and grow,” explained Buckler.

“Community & Company feels blessed to be part of such a wonderful community. We live in a beautiful little dot on the map with so many great things happening toward progress. All too often, social media drowns out the positive with the negative, and we want to do better. Our goal is to spotlight the local businesses that are out there making a difference in our little hometown.”

With that goal in mind, Buckler explained that the group plans to host events at local venues and bring events geared toward all ages to our community, while raising funds to give back.

“This will allow us to assist locals right here in our community that are working hard to be successful, but might just be in a hard spot. We have already been able to make donations to a few local small business owners during COVID shutdown, as well as awarding four local 2020 graduates with a scholarship.”

The first 20 shoppers at the Dec. 5 event will receive a free shirt with proof of purchase from the one of the vendors.

“We have a list of all the talented vendors on our Community & Company Facebook page, but it varies from the newly opened Village Brew coffee shop, Carter’s Cookies, several local boutiques, Ridge & Holler, a few handmade jewelry makers, Poppin’ Jessie’s gourmet kettle corn, a local food truck, and Mariah Patton will be there with her $1-per-minute massages,” said Buckler.

“We will close the doors from 5 to 6 p.m. to transition. Doors will open at 6 p.m. for the concert. Our vendors will be staying for the singer-songwriter concert, but there will not be any tickets available at the door for the concert. Concert tickets must be purchased on our Facebook page prior to the event. We only have about 20 tickets left, so jump online and get yours quick.”

According to Buckler, Wyatt McCubbin is from Dayton, but is currently living in Nashville where he is a songwriter. McCubbin has written with lots of well-known musicians and has his own YouTube channel delivering one-of-a-kind covers with his Wednesdays with Wyatts. His wife Holly, who tours with her brother, country artist Mo Pitney, will be there with Wyatt to sing duets.

Local favorite, Nolan Taylor, will be there as well. Nolan is from the Paint Valley area, but is putting down roots in the Cincinnati area currently.

“We are looking forward to the delivery of some stellar lyrics and messages with these fine musicians in a singer-songwriter setting,” said Buckler. “This is an event you don’t want to miss, so get your tickets soon!”

According to Buckler, the event will specifically help Pike and surrounding counties by spotlighting amazing small business, while raising funds for future give-back projects.

“Our overall goal is to assist those right here in our local community that are in a tight spot and just need a little help. We want to help in big ways, but really want to focus on helping folks that are really working hard and trying to improve their situation or lifestyle and just need assistance, but aren’t necessarily asking for it,” said Buckler.

“In our meetings we have discussed things like installing handicap ramps for local residents, purchasing tires for college kids in need, replacing roofs, helping others find employment, and many other forms of assistance. We want to do better and help make the place we live a better place to live, grow and change.”

For those concerned about COVID-19, Buckler said plans are in place to make the event as safe as possible.

“We have a diagram of the event in place and have looked closely at the rules and regulations. We want to provide a happy experience for everyone, but in the safest way possible,” said Buckler. “We will be doing a headcount at the door for the vendor event and asking those in attendance to be respectful of social distancing protocols. Our concert is limited to 100 tickets and will have assigned seating, so there will be no tickets sold at the door for the concert.”

Buckler feels the event is unique because it was created to provide something for everyone. There will be free crafts for kids and face painting by the Pike County Fair Royalty Court. Payton Reuter, with The Imagination Library, will be there to share the love of reading with local youth as well. Free photos with Santa will be available from 2 to 4 p.m.

“There will be several gorgeous donated Christmas trees for silent auction, as well as a few other silent auction items. We will have a local food truck out front, so please stop in and see what your community has to offer,” said Buckler.

“You can help by attending our event, liking our Facebook page and reaching out to us with stories of those in need! Together we can do so much! Community is unity.”

In summary on Saturday, Dec. 5, the local vendor market runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Photos with Santa are available from 2 to 4 p.m. The doors will be closed from 5 to 6 p.m. before re-opening at 6 p.m. for the concert, slated from 7 to 10 p.m. The location is Twin Lakes Resort, 273 Tackett Lane, Piketon.

Email at jbillings@newswatchman.com; follow on Twitter @ Julie_Billings

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