OXFORD JUNCTION......Five years ago, in 2008, the Oxford Junction Community was awarded a $10,000 grant from the Northwest Area Foundation. This was the beginning of Oxford Junction Improvement, Inc. and Junction for Opportunities.
Dozens of Oxford Junction residents participated in and supported the Horizon's Leadership Program to develop thriving communities prior to being awarded the grant. This leadership program was geared to reducing poverty. Oxford Junction was selected to participate in the program because of the 15% poverty rate. Only communities with populations under 5000 and with more than 10% poverty rate in the eight states that the Great Norther Railway served were eligible for the Horizon's project.
According to the Northwest Area Foundation requirements, the $10,000 grant had to be given to a 501(c)(3) organization. Oxford Junction Improvement, Inc. filed for tax-exempt status in 2008 and was granted this status by the IRS.
Educational needs in the Oxford Junction community has been the focus of Oxford Junction Improvement, Inc. in order to meet the poverty reduction requirements of the Northwest Area Foundation grant as well as the requirements of the 501(c)(3) status. Every year, a $600 scholarship has been awarded to a student who is enrolled in a certificate or apprenticeship program to become a skilled trades person. The recipient does not have to be a recent high school graduate.
In addition, in the spring of 2013, Oxford Junction Improvement, Inc. purchased four IPAD minis for students in the Midland Elementary School. Workbooks have been purchased for elementary students to take home during summer vacation. Coach Sloth books have also been purchased.
A project being undertaken at the present time is the construction of a ball field at the Midland Elementary School, where over 50% of the students are in the low income category. The ball field will be used by the physical education classes and will thus serve 268 students.
Oxford Junction Improvement, Inc. works closely with Junction for Opportunities, which does not have 501(c)(3) status. Because of this, Junction for Opportunities is not as limited in the sphere of the projects it undertakes.
A list of the projects undertaken show the investment Junction for Opportunities has in the children of the community and in the community of Oxford Junction. One of the first projects was to compile a pamphlet promoting businesses in and around Oxford Junction, and this information published in the Shopper Stopper. Welcome to Town bags are filled with information about the community and distributed to new home owners.
Several communities in the Horizon's Leadership Program used grant funds to establish a community newsletter. Oxford Junction is fortunate to have such a newsletter for decades, and The Booster is supported.
A Frisbee Golf Course has been constructed in Wapsie Park. A grant filed by the group has helped to pay for trees to be planted in the park.
Matching funds for grants to provide paint for homes and businesses has been provided. Landscaping for front yards of home owners has been supplied.
Families have been able to clothe children and adults in the Clothing Give-A-Way sponsored twice a year. Free income tax preparation has been supported.
Junction for Opportunities worked with Wregie Memorial Library to sponsor computer classes. Two sessions of babysitting classes for kids 12 years old and older have been funded. Cooking classes for youth have been supported. Registration fees were paid for kids to attend 4-H summer day camp.
Advertising for and promotion of the Community Garage Sale Day has been provided. The group has a plant sale and a food stand during the sale day. Hospitality Day and Flea Market was a promotion for several years. There is participation in the July 4th celebration.
Kids have been the guests of honor at Halloween. Valentine's Day and free movie parties.
Plans are now being made for the annual Holiday in OJ event to be held Dec. 14. Junction for Opportunities will sponsor the visit from Santa and Mrs.Claus, craft making, kid's drawing for prizes, a turkey and ham give a way, Volunteer of the Year, Christmas Lighting Contest and provide a soup luncheon for a free will offering.
Many of these events would not be possible without the support of many in the community . Oxford Junction Improvement, Inc. and Junction for Opportunities both encourage the participation of community residents in the identification of projects and to help with the work involved with these projects. Meetings are held the first Wednesday of the month.