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Features

  • Olen Quesenberry of Galax submitted this first-hand account of the last train to leave the city in 1985 before the rails were taken up, along with his photos of the trip.

  • When Freedom Motorsports founder and CEO Chris Kelley of Galax reached out to help a fellow veteran in need, he had no idea how far his outreach would expand.
    Kelley, who operates the online business, launched the Veteran Assistance Fund in an effort to assist service-connected disabled veterans during the holiday season. A veteran himself, he hopes that this effort will reach others who struggle with the psychological aftermath of serving active duty in wars overseas.

  • Kathy Gruhn of Galax had the opportunity to meet and pitch a book to Oprah Winfrey this summer.
    Gruhn wrote a child development program called “My Baby Compass,” which helps parents know if their child is on target for development, and shares methods on how to develop learning skills. The program is for children ages birth through seven years old.

  • WHITETOP – For Rodney Richardson, owner of Mt. Rogers Tree Farm in Whitetop, Christmas is on his mind all year round.
    Richardson has made a career out of working on and managing his tree farm and selling Fraser fir Christmas trees. Every year, he grows the Christmas trees and sells them during the holiday season, but Christmas just seems to be getting more special and memorable for Richardson and his family each time the calendar rolls around to November and December.

  • Chief David C. Hankley of the Galax Volunteer Fire Department submitted this letter to The Gazette about the Community Christmas Food Fund, which the department took on as a project this year:

    On behalf of the Galax Fire Department and Y’s Men Club, I want to thank our community for the great support that we received for the Community Christmas Food Fund.
    On Dec. 19, we had over 200 people swarm the fire station to pack the food boxes. Because each of the 550 families will receive two boxes, there were actually 1,100 boxes to pack.

  • Backpack Buddies participants at Gladeville Elementary get grocery bags stuffed with care, to ensure the family receives plenty of Christmas fare.
    The 23 items packed often overflowed, and the students had to carry home quite a load.
    The Mount Olivet United Methodist Church women’s group spearheads it, so during the holidays the families don’t have to fret.

  • The City of Galax’s annual parade and community tree lighting ceremony kicks off the Christmas season on Friday, followed by three parades and other holiday events on Saturday in Hillsville, Independence and Fries.
    The Galax Christmas Parade will be begin at Police Square on North Main Street in downtown Galax this Friday night. The event will begin at 6 p.m. with Christmas music, followed by the lighting of the tree at 6:30 p.m.
    The parade, which travels south down Main Street, will follow at 7 p.m.

    Hillsville

  • Samantha Jones’ second grade class

    Fairview Elementary School

     

    Dear Santa,

    How are you and your elves doing?  I know you and the elves are doing good.  I want a Kindle Fire, six puppies, and an iPod.  I also want a laptop. 

    Love,

    Kendra

     

    Dear Santa,

  • When Linda Mock started her new position as coordinator of Galax’s Safe Routes to School program on Nov. 4, one of the first commitments she made was to ditch her car during work hours and walk around the city instead.
    “I’ve spent a lot of time walking everywhere, because if I’m going to talk the talk, I’m going to walk the walk,” she said.

  • By SHAINA STOCKTON, Staff
    Charity Shupe of Woodlawn is checking her mailbox every day for letters and Christmas cards from the community, following a recent request that she posted online on behalf of her father, Charlie Alderman.
    “Please read this... A lot of my [Facebook] friends are aware of my father’s situation... I am not asking for money or handouts, however I would love nothing more than to make this Christmas special [for him],” Charity posted on a public Facebook page earlier this month.

  • CANA — The Feeding America site in Cana supplies thousands of pounds of food to people in distressed areas, as fundraising continues to supply the local match to pay for 10 months of the service.
    Skills USA clubs at Carroll County High School threw a barbecue meal fundraiser on Oct. 30 go toward the $5,000 needed to secure the program.
    Fundraiser organizers presented a check for the $3,000 raised at the Feeding America mobile pantry at St. Paul on Nov. 19 to the Southwestern Virginia organization’s John Shoulders.

  • When nine-year-old Dylan Bedwell was asked what he wanted for his birthday this year, he gave his family a surprising answer.
    He didn’t ask for toys, games, clothes or money. Instead, he wanted to do something special for others.
    Bedwell, who turned 10 on Nov. 19, is asking friends and family to skip getting him presents this year, and instead make a donation of food and/or other basic necessities to The Galax Hope House during his birthday party this Saturday.

  • For her senior project, Galax High School student Bentley Cornett has enlisted the help of her youth group at Baywood Wesleyan Church to collect over-the-counter medication for patients in El Salvador.
    Cornett and her group, a pantomime team called “Silent Praise,” will perform skits at the high school on Nov. 20 beginning at 6 p.m. Medicine will be collected at the door for admission.

  • By SHAINA STOCKTON, Staff

    Missionary Doug Donithan scrolled through the collection of photos that he’s taken over the years in Tacloban, his home city in the Philippines where he has served for over 20 years.
    Photos flashed across the screen of smiling children playing in and around modest but immaculately tidy homes; quaint street markets filled with busy customers; worship sessions in two different rental buildings that served the group as churches; and fisherman launching their boats into the crystal clear water.

  • With holiday supplies already covering the store shelves, Galax individuals, families, churches and groups are working to make Christmas a reality for needy kids around the world by filling shoeboxes with toys, school supplies, hygiene items and notes of encouragement.
    Operation Christmas Child, the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind, is ramping up as Galax residents prepare to collect more than 850 gift-filled shoeboxes during National Collection Week (Nov. 18-25), according to a news release.

  • Two winners were chosen to transform themselves through personal training, and The Gazette is following their progress. Travis Haynes has completed his 12-week journey, while Treva Osborne is still undergoing a transformation to improve her overall health.

  • INDEPENDENCE — Last year, the Independence VFW and Ladies Auxiliary lent a helping hand to Santa and to their neighbors by purchasing and distributing toys for more than 400 local families at Christmas.
    This year, Santa will have even more helpers.
    Members of the Independence Police Department, Independence Volunteer Fire Department and town council have teamed up to form “Independence Cares,” an organization that will hold a coat and toy drive for local children during the Christmas season.

  • Oakland Elementary School’s kindergarten classes are raising funds to send 75 gift stockings to an adopted soldier’s unit this Christmas.
    Operation “Santa Soldier” Stockings not only involves students in putting together gifts for American soldiers for the holidays, but also establishes a bond between the adopted unit and students through a pen pal program. Students will write to the soldiers and hear back about their travels overseas.

  • ATLANTA, Ga. — Like the undead creatures he has played on “The Walking Dead,” actor PJ McDonnell just keeps coming back.
    The native of Grayson County has shambled his way through three episodes of the mega-popular zombie survival TV series in the past two years. Two gunshots to the head and a decapitation by sword weren’t enough to keep him down.

  • By SHAINA STOCKTON, Staff

    After readying the equipment and flipping off the lights, three members of Lambsburg-based paranormal team Operation Spiritseekers marched into the basement of a Galax restaurant.
    Their trip down the steep stairs lead into a dark basement, where Rachel McDonald placed several pieces of electronic equipment and sensors, a flashlight and a ball  — all devices that a spirit could use to communicate with the living — in a cluster on the basement floor. Standing back, she spoke into the blackness.