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Dallas Pruitt, James Rogers and Drew Snable engage in a little art appreciation as they move some sculptures. (click for larger version)
December 04, 2013 - "A lot of hands and strong backs get things done."

Oxford Football Coach Bud Rowley's words offered a good description of what happened on Nov. 27 when 27 of his gridiron warriors spent one of their Thanksgiving vacation days helping Merge Studio & Gallery move into its new home.

"I really appreciate it," said Merge co-owner Karey Collins. "This was just such a big help. I was very stressed over how we were going to get everything from here to there."

Merge left its 18 N. Washington St. location in downtown Oxford last week and moved into its new 5,000-square-foot home (i.e. the old grain elevator) at 33 Pleasant St.

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The building is being extensively renovated to house an art gallery, studio, classroom space, a coffee shop, a small second-floor apartment, some retail space and an outdoor seating area open to Merge customers, Polly Ann Trail users and the public.

Collins said the art studio should be open in "a couple weeks," while the coffee shop is expected to begin serving customers around New Year's Day. "That's what we're looking at now," she said.

Collins estimated the football team saved her at least a couple thousand dollars in moving expenses.

"I'm really thankful and grateful," she said. "They're all a bunch of great kids – very polite, hard workers. I can't say 'thank you' enough."

Rowley and his players were happy to lend a hand – well, actually, 54 of them.

"She's from Oxford, so if we can help out, we will," he said.

You could see the pride on Rowley's face as he barked out orders and kept things moving.

"They're all good workers. They're all good guys," Rowley said. "These kids got up on their day off. I didn't call anybody. They all got here on their own and nobody missed. I'm very pleased."

Doing things like this helps instill discipline, build team camaraderie and teach the value of community and helping others, according to the coach.

"I think it says a lot about our kids," Rowley said.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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