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Star-spangled fundraiser decorates Oxford for Labor Day

Around Oxford this Labor Day weekend, houses and streets sported the American flag. Many of these flags are a result of the Oxford Community Stars & Stripes program that the Oxford Rotary Club organizes.

Stars & Stripes allows community members and businesses to donate money and have an American flag placed in front of their homes or businesses. Residents are supporting the Oxford Rotary and Hefner Fund Support Programs while star-spangling their neighborhoods.

Kathy Butterfield, a member of the Rotary Club, said she is astounded by the feedback they've received from the community. The club was especially spirited on Independence Day.

"Every year we have the Fouth of July parade Uptown, and some of us wore our shirts," Butterfield said. "And I heard so many comments saying, 'Wow.' It was beautiful."

Stars & Stripes began in February 2015 as a new way for the Rotary Club to raise money for the community. Their previous fundraising event, a golf tournament, had slowly been losing interest.

"We wanted to replace the funds we were raising from that [golf tournament]," said Chris Hensey, a Rotary Club member. "I think we're in the ballpark of having done that."

To date, they have 270 subscriptions. They hope to reach 300 by the end of 2015. All the subscriptions are within roughly five miles of Oxford's center, or the "mile square."

"When we started the project we had a goal of 100 flags," Butterfield said. "And boom - we did that no problem."

Hensey noted their next goal, in addition to gaining more subscriptions, is reaching more public places in Oxford and involving more of the community.

"The City of Oxford is mulling letting us use public parks," Hensey said. "But we're not really clear if we're going to be able to do that just yet."

This fund raises money year-round through Stars & Stripes as well as other fundraising events. Money from the fund supports the Talawanda School District in a multitude of ways as well as Miami Little League baseball and softball.

Notably, the club provides scholarships to eight Talawanda seniors for $1000 each to help aid their college expenses.

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Jim Haley, another Rotary Club member, noted that, beyond those benefiting from the fundraising, many others are impacted positively by Stars & Stripes.

"I'm impressed each time I get a note from someone who wishes to subscribe and have a flag," Haley said. "And they make some comment about this being a great project and it's a beautiful program to make Oxford look more patriotic."

Other groups across the country do similar programs in their communities, but that Oxford's support of the fundraiser is equal to or higher than areas more than double the size.

"We have to be mindful of the fact that our goals are set on the size of Oxford, including students," Haley said. "We have a lot of opportunity here."

Currently, most of their subscriptions are full-time community members. Haley said this was because students are not on campus for most of the holidays that put up flags.

Residents interested in supporting the project either through subscriptions or through volunteering can contact the Oxford Rotary Club.

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