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Businesses add help for holidays

Aaron Taplin is one of a number of residents who were hired tobolster employees ranks at area retail stores for the holidays.

The McComb resident, who is attending Southwest MississippiCommunity College, is typical of many of those who seek holidayemployment.

Taplin worked offshore for five years and quit to attend college”just before” Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. He quit toattend college, where he is pursuing a degree in radiology.

School is expensive, though, and Taplin decided he needed a jobthrough the holidays to help meet expenses and defray the cost ofChristmas gifts.

“I put out a variety of different applications and Home Depotcame through for me,” he said.

Taplin is hoping during the holidays to determine whether he canmaintain a full-time job while still attending school, or if thetwo responsibilities would have too much of a detrimental effect onhis education.

Taplin’s situation is traditionally the type of seasonal hiringa business manager can expect during the holidays, said GregNewman, Home Depot’s manager.

Other traditional hirings include mothers needing jobs, orsecond jobs, to boost their income to purchase Christmas gifts. Atwist to seasonal hires this year, however, are those who evacuatedto Brookhaven to escape the devastating effects of HurricaneKatrina on the coast, where thousands of people lost everythingthey owned.

Newman said his store made about 15 seasonal hires this yeararound early November. Among the 15 are the traditional studentsand mothers and also evacuees.

“We hired a few more this year anticipating a good, strongChristmas season” and also to offer employment opportunities topeople displaced by the hurricane, Newman said.

In normal years, seasonal hires would be released around the endof January, when gift card business begins to slow down, Newmansaid. However, he said he hopes this year the company cantransition as many as possible into full-time positions.

“Some of those I hired will not be leaving in January. Some willtransition into regular jobs,” he said.

Also, a new store opening in Clinton may be able to employ someof the seasonal hires.

“That’s always an option for them as well,” Newman said.

Retailers across Brookhaven have made more than the usual numberof seasonal hires, said Cliff Brumfield, executive director of theBrookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce.

The city has posted record sales tax income revenue sinceSeptember. Brumfield said the totals were influenced by brisksales, travelers to the coast to aid in recovery efforts and theinflux of temporary residents caused by the hurricane.

The volume of sales has prompted many retailers to add on extrahelp, he said.