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.
UA volunteers help make Harvest Dinner a success for families facing homelessness
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.
The Northeast Ohio Blues Association presents Blues at The Civic
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.
Local crafters, artists share wares at Artsy Mart this weekend
Finish your holiday shopping with handmade artwork created by local artists at Summit Artspace this weekend, Dec. 7 and 8. Artsy Mart is a free event where local arts vendors sell handmade artworks, offering a unique take on gifts, from wearable fine art items to original artwork from Summit Artspace's studio artists and local artists.
It will be the beginning of building a creative and affordable experience to shower those you love with the best in community supported arts for the holidays. Artsy Mart on Saturday evening will coincide with the monthly Artwalk, along with food trucks from Retro Dog and Zydeco Bistro from 5 to 10 p.m.
Hours will be Saturday, Dec. 7 from noon to 10 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 8, from noon to 5 pm. For information, call (330) 376-8480 or go to www.akronareaarts.org. Summit Artspace is located at 140 E. Market St. Admisson and parking are free.
Summit County Children Services Board of Trustees names next agency executive director
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.
Visitors Bureau offers destination grants to tourism entities
The Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau has launched the "Partnerships in Motion – Destination Development Grant Program."
The program is designed to assist qualifying tourism entities with efforts to enhance and increase tourism in Summit County, including projects that increase the tourism market share and grow the tourism industry. The goals of the program include: 1.) increase overnight stays in Akron/Summit County; 2.) promote a positive image and increase visibility of Akron/Summit County attractions; 3.) increase expenditures by visitors to Akron/Summit County; and 4.) provide programs and activities beneficial to attracting additional tourists. Applications are due by Dec. 19.
Holidayfest celebrates 10th anniversary at Lock 3 in Downtown Akron
For the 10th consecutive season, Lock 3 in Downtown Akron will be home to Northeast Ohio's most popular spot to ice skate and celebrate the holiday season. Along with brand new family-friendly events occurring all winter, Lock 3's most frequented winter attraction - its ice skating rink - opens this Friday, Nov. 15, and will remain open until the end of February.
Returning this year is a large range of events and activities that have made Lock 3 the premier holiday destination, including the popular 10,000-square-foot ice rink sponsored by First Merit, and the famous Archie's Enchanted Encounter, sponsored by Chapel Hill Mall, which gives adults and children the opportunity to chat with the magical 17-foot-tall snowman.
"People can watch Lock 3's giant Christmas tree and fireworks light up the Downtown Akron sky during the annual Holiday Lighting Ceremony on Nov. 29, then slip on their mittens and snowball down Reindeer Run, 150 feet of festive downhill fun specifically designed for children under 14 years of age," noted Tish Jernigan, Akron's Lock 3 and Downtown Operations Manager.
Stow Symphony opens holiday season
Directed by Darrell Lee Music, the Stow Symphony Orchestra will perform its annual holiday concert at 7:30 PM on Saturday, Dec. 7. For this performance the Orchestra returns to the Stow-Munroe Falls High School Auditorium, at 3227 East Graham Road, Stow.
Along with many seasonal favorites the concert will feature
• Leroy Anderson's holiday music
• Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Ballet Suite"
• Scenes from the music of "A Charlie Brown Christmas"
• Special selections featuring the Stow Symphony Orchestra Chorale
• A holiday audience sing-along
First Night 2014 button design is a hoot
Downtown Akron Partnership (DAP) recently announced the First Night Akron 2014 artwork that thousands of revelers will wear as their admission button on New Year's Eve. The button artist, who was selected by a committee of previous button artists, is Dave Szalay.
"The owl ended up being a great character to represent the spirit of a nighttime New Year celebration in Akron," said Szalay, an accomplished graphic designer and illustrator from Akron. "Owls are nocturnal and associated with insight, wisdom and protection," he added. "Winter is prime time for spotting owls and Northeast Ohio is one of the best places in the country to do so. Anyone who sees an owl in the wild is pretty lucky because they are stealthy."
"I hope that spotting this year's First Night owl brings everyone good luck for the coming year," said Szalay, who uses an illustration technique involving advanced digital painting and drawing yet is reminiscent of vintage 1950s advertising and picture book art. He has worked professionally in visual communications for the past 28 years, and is an assistant professor at The University of Akron, Myers School of Art where he teaches various graphic design and illustration courses.
Increase 'diabetes IQ' with Akron Area YMCA this month
November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, and the Akron Area YMCA is encouraging the community to learn the risks for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes to take preventive steps to potentially reduce the chances of developing the disease.
Currently, one in three Summit, Medina and Portage County residents have prediabetes — a condition in which a person’s blood glucose is elevated, but not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis. Only a small percent of those with prediabetes know they have it. With awareness and simple actions, people with prediabetes may prevent the onset of diabetes.
According to an estimate from the Ohio Department of Health, 69,087 cases of adult type 2 diabetes were reported in the Akron Area YMCA’s service area of Summit, Portage and Medina counties. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also estimated there were 85 annual deaths related to diabetes for these counties.
GAINS meeting explores 'sense of place'
“Placemaking,” a collaborative and place-sensitive process of shaping neighborhoods, communities and districts, will be the subject of the GAINS (Greater Akron Innovations Network for Sustainability) meeting this Wednesday, Nov. 13 at Musica, in downtown Akron.
The evening’s discussion will cover successful best practices, opportunities, challenges and development choices with significant economic impact for Greater Akron. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the free program begins at 6:15 p.m.
Placemaking is an innovative perspective that views a place in its entirety, rather than zeroing in on isolated fragments of the whole with the intent of creating an experience of place we identify with, are more likely to engage and ultimately a more prudent approach to investing development dollars.