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It’s a New Year…when our lives turn a page from the past and look forward to the future. Many of us make New Year’s Resolutions to improve our lives…things like losing weight or getting more exercise. But newscaster, Ann Curry suggests a way for all of us to impact not only our lives but the lives of others in her “26 Acts of Kindness” campaign.

The terrible tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary still weighs heavy on my heart. Whether it is the senselessness of the violence, happening so close to the holidays, or the thought of 26 lives whose futures are unfulfilled, this event has made me, like so many others, reflect on the impact my decisions have on the lives of others. My Irish grandmother always taught me that any act…good or bad…would return to us “three-fold”. She did this to show us the importance of every decision we make.

It is with this in mind that I fully embrace and wish to expand on Ann Curry’s vision – in which she invites us all to commit 26 acts of random kindness…one to represent each life lost that terrible day. I propose that we expand on that idea and make it our New Year’s Resolution to commit 26 WEEKS of Random Kindness.  Six months of committing simple acts that will brighten and improve the lives of others. It can be as grand as a sizable monetary donation to a local charity, or as humble as holding the door open for an elderly person. These acts can be committed every day of the 26 weeks, or just one per week…the choice is yours. Are you with me?

Greenville has had a long tradition of helping others. It should come as no surprise to most that our hometown was recently recognized as one of the “Most Giving Cities in the US.”  It is…after all…”The Greenville Way”.

So, I hope that you will join me in taking part in this mission. To find out more about the “26 Acts” Campaign, visit their Facebook Page at http://www.facebook.com/26acts. Join thousands of others who have committed themselves to this cause. ..You’ll be glad you did!

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Again, this is a very different blog article than I originally had planned. I was going to write about something festive and frivolous like places to go for a hot toddy, or who had the best Holiday desserts. But recent events in a small, close-knit community in Connecticut…a community that, from all appearances, is very much like our own community, changed all of that. And on this cold, rainy day, I find myself thinking of the families of Newtown, CT .

In Greenville, like many other smaller towns & cities, coming together in times of tragedy is not uncommon. We bring food to those who have lost a loved one, collect toys and food for families less fortunate and each weekend, collections plates are filled to the brim at area churches.  Whether it is giving sanctuary to a young Jewish man escaping the Nazi regime, as in the case of former mayor, Max Heller, or a church providing shoes to impoverished schoolchildren like was recently witnessed at Grove Elementary, we as community, come together to help those in need…we even refer to this as “The Greenville Way”.

Now, the people of the Sandy Hook community in Newtown, CT are in pain and many of us in Greenville feel an urgent need to help. The United Way has set up a Sandy Hook School Support Fund, to help those affected by this terrible tragedy. Donations can be sent to Sandy Hook School Support Fund,  c/o Newtown Savings Bank,  39 Main Street, Newtown CT 06470.

Counseling for the young witnesses of the shooting and the families of the victims of this tragedy will also be needed, not only in the following days, but reaching far into the future. Newtown Youth & Family Services, Inc., a nonprofit mental health clinic, will be providing emergency counseling to families, community members & staff. All donations made to the organization will benefit those affected. For more information, visit http://www.newtownyouthandfamilyservices.org.  The Newtown Parent Connection, a nonprofit that usually addresses issues of substance abuse, also offers bereavement group counseling. They are attempting to help the citizens of Sandy Hook by bringing in additional counselors to accommodate the needs of those affected by the shootings. For more information, please visit http://www.newtownparentconnection.org.

The Sandy Hook Fire & Rescue, whose firehouse served as “ground zero” for the media, rescue & emergency personnel and families, is coordinating a toy drive for the siblings of the children who lost their lives in these horrible events. New, unwrapped toys can be sent directly to the firehouse – Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire and Rescue, 18-20 Riverside Rd.,  P.O. Box 783,  Sandy Hook, CT 06482. The all-volunteer rescue squad will distribute the toys to the families.

But there are other ways to honor the fallen with aid and donations to organizations here in the Upstate. Mental Health is an issue that has come into the spotlight due to this tragedy.  The National Alliance on Mental Illness or NAMI of Greenville, is non-profit, grass-roots organization offering support, education and advocacy for people with serious mental illness and their families. The majority of their funding comes from donations, which help support such programs as Support Groups and Outreach for those battling mental illness. For more information, visit  http://www.namigreenvillesc.org.

Domestic Violence and Violence Against Children are other issues this event has brought to the forefront. The Julie Valentine Center, named for an abandoned, unknown infant girl,  strives to help those in the Upstate who have been victims of domestic violence, rape and incest. Donations to this deserving organization will help fund community education, treatment for victims and services for children. For more information, visit http://www.julievalentinecenter.org.

Please keep the families and others of Newtown, CT in your thoughts and prayers. It is normal to feel helpless when something so horrendous happens anywhere. But when a community comes together, especially in aid of those in need, be it locally or in a tiny village in the Northeastern US, t is strengthened tenfold. And, as a community, Greenville has a tendency to stand strong.  Godspeed Downtownies…

More Ways to Help…

In Newtown…

  • Meals: Provide meals to the families and volunteers of Sandy Hook. Two local restaurants taking orders for meals for those affected by the tragedy are King’s Breakfast & Lunch at 203-426-6881 and  My Place Pizza at 203-270-7061.

In Greenville…

  • A Child’s Haven:  A nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming the lives of young children who have experienced developmental delays or behavioral challenges. Many are victims of poverty, child abuse or domestic violence. For more information, visit http://www.achildshaven.org.
  • Safe Harbor: This non-profit helps victims of domestic violence, providing safe emergency shelter, counseling, legal advocacy, and community outreach and education. For more information, visit http://safeharborsc.org.


The Holidays seem to bring out the best in most folks. Whether you are dropping a few dollars into a Red Kettle, providing gifts for children who are less fortunate or gathering canned goods for our local food pantries, this time of year makes many of us dig a little deeper to help our fellow humans. Combine that sense of charitable giving with some of our great local music, and the combination would make even the “Grinchiest” heart grow three sizes!

The Handlebar has long donated its Listening Room for some of the best fundraising concerts in town, and December is no exception! This Friday, December 14th, join the guys from Outshyne as they throw a Dixie-Fried Country Christmas Bash to benefit the Marine Corp’s Toys for Tots. Joined by friends and fellow do-gooders, The Smith Outfit, Josh Owens & Anna Leigh, this rockin’ Holiday happening is sure to get your toes to tappin’ & your rump to shakin’! Tickets are $11 in advance and $13 the day of the show (a $2 surcharge is added for those under 21) and the music is set to start at 9PM. Collection bins for toy donations will also be positioned throughout the venue.

For more than a decade, Greenville’s favorite jam band (and all-around nice guys), The Work, has been hosting their annual concert to benefit local charities. This year’s event, The Work’s 11th Annual Christmas Jam, will take place on Friday, December 21st at The Handlebar. Joined by such local talent as Acoustic Syndicate, Yo’ Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band, Millifungus, The Bad Popes, Doug Jones & more, many consider this event to be THE Holiday Party of the year! The guys will be onstage at 7PM and play in a big ‘ol jam session until they decide it’s time to stop. This year, the American Red Cross will benefit from proceeds of this concert, to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy and other disasters. Tickets are on sale now for $15 and will be $18 the day of the show. For more information on this and other concerts at The Handlebar, visit www.handlebar-online.com.

On Wednesday, December 19th, local acoustic artist, Kylie Hinze will be performing her annual concert to benefit The Ellen Hines Smith Girls Home. Taking place at The Channel, this evening of Holiday music will also feature a silent auction & a visit from Santa.  With special musical guests, 4th Shade Avenue (from Simpsonville), Kylie will take the stage at 7PM until 9PM. A donation of $5 is requested as admission at the door. For more information, visit www.thechannelonline.org.

Downtown Greenville comes alive with music and good will every Holiday season! Take time to enjoy these and other wonderful events that take place in our fair city. I’d be willing to bet you will come away from these celebrations with the “strength of 10 Grinches…plus two!” Happy Holidays, Y’all!

More Downtown Businesses That Are Giving Back in Unique Ways…

  • Traveling Chic Boutique – Collects in-store donations for such local charities as Safe Harbor, Cancer Society of Greenville County, Greenville Humane Society, Ronald McDonald House, Meals on Wheels & Loaves & Fishes.
  • 864toGo.com – Donating a portion of their December food sales to The Special Olympics.
  • Subway – Participating restaurants are hosting Salvation Army Angel Trees to collect toys & clothing for children who would not otherwise receive gifts.
  • Red Ribbon ReSale Shop – With an eclectic assortment of items, this resale store benefits the many programs of AID Upstate, which offers support and information for those battling HIV/AIDS.
  • Safe Harbor ReSale Store – Featuring mostly gently used, upscale clothing, proceeds from this resale shop supports programs that aid victims of domestic violence.
  • Soby’s – Their Thursday Guest Bartender Happy Hour, from 5-7PM weekly, donates 20% of proceeds to area charities.
  • The Barkery Bistro – Supports local animal shelters and rescue groups with their monthly Yappy Hour events.
  • Coffee Underground – This cornerstone of Downtown’s caffeinated community supports several local charities through donations and fundraisers.


et cetera