Nonprofit View: Peeps-inspired wisdom from retiring Arts Council director

Carroll County Arts Council Executive Director Sandy Oxx hugs Jean Ebeling after the St. Mary's County resident and her daughter donated a Peeps quilt to the PEEPshow on Friday March 23, 2018.
Carroll County Arts Council Executive Director Sandy Oxx hugs Jean Ebeling after the St. Mary's County resident and her daughter donated a Peeps quilt to the PEEPshow on Friday March 23, 2018. (Ken Koons/Carroll County Times / Carroll County Times)

As my June retirement starts looming large, I've recently spent a lot of time thinking about my 21 years at the helm of the Carroll County Arts Council. While I hope my legacy will be "more than just marshmallows," I realize that Peeps are a perfect metaphor for so many things I've learned in my time here. Indulge me in some marshmallow musings.

Bridging cultures and religions. I find it fascinating that the Just Born Company, started and still owned by a Jewish family, has essentially made its fortune making Easter candy. When we learn about other cultures and their traditional holiday customs, we can build bridges to understanding. Honoring and even celebrating other religions doesn't have to dilute one's own faith or beliefs, it only helps to heighten our awareness of the common threads of humanity.


Sandy Oxx, executive director of the Carroll County Arts Council announced her resignation Friday, January 5 and will be leaving the position after 21 years.

Building things that last. Peeps advertise a shelf life of two years, but we all know they last much longer than that! I still have a 10-year old PEEPshow entry that remains vibrant and free of ants and mold to this day! Things are no longer built to last. Our "disposable" lifestyle is causing landfills to overflow into our lakes and rivers. If we create things with staying power and keep things until they are completely worn out, what a better place our world could be.

Color is transforming! Peeps are simply marshmallows coated with sugar, but what a difference that color makes! The transformation of a pale lump into an iconic holiday symbol proves that sometimes all you need is a splash of color to bring something to life. No need to redecorate your entire house — just add some color and your world can be re-imagined.

Inspiring the artist in all of us. I have witnessed state troopers, insurance brokers, karate teachers, bored teenagers and auto mechanics create some of the most exquisite, well-crafted masterpieces from this medium that proves to be sticky, nearly impossible to cut neatly, and available only in rather garish colors. You couldn't get the same magic and creativity from a standard set of watercolors. Artistic inspiration can come from some of the most unlikely sources. Find what inspires you!

Inside we're all the same. Chicks, bunnies and pumpkins adorned in hot pink, purple or orange, yet inside they all are the same. The trite slogan is on T-shirts, mugs and bumper stickers, yet that sentiment is forgotten as we debate and divide our world into categories and classifications that only result in hatred. Listen to the Peeps … indeed we are all the same inside.

Perhaps the most important thing I've learned from Peeps is that Carroll County is a very sweet place. I will cherish my time here and the many friends I've made along the way. I hope I've left enough sugar dust in my path to serve as a reminder to always look to marshmallows for wisdom and inspiration. Peep on Carroll County!

Sandy Oxx is the executive director of the Carroll County Arts Council. Reach her at sandy@carrollcountyartscouncil.org.

Each Monday, the Carroll County Times will publish a column from a local nonprofit, allowing them to share information about their organization and the issues facing it. To be considered, email cctnews@carrollcountytimes.com with the subject line "Nonprofit View."