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7 Ways to Get Involved and Give Back During the Holidays in Charleston

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And amid all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it’s all too easy to become so focused on our families and friends that we forget about those who are less fortunate than we are. As much as the staff and agents at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company strive to give back to our community all year long, it’s important to also think of the members of our community who face a lonely, hard, often cold reality during this time of year. It’s easy to spread Christmas cheer to our neighbors, friends, and family who are reciprocating, but there are lots of ways we can help ease the burdens of others who are down on their luck. Here are seven of the many ways you can help get involved and give back to the community this holiday season in Charleston.

One80 Place

One80 Place’s mission statement shows their commitment to ending and preventing homelessness “one person at a time, one family at a time.” This organization provides housing services, health care, food, training, legal services, and veteran services to those in need. To date, they have sheltered 41,597 people and served 2,523,210 meals. We’re proud to have partnered with One80 Place this year to hold a drive for needed supplies, and we would love to see others give in any way they can to help this organization in their mission, which is of vital importance to our community. Volunteering, fundraising, and gifting opportunities are listed on their website

Lowcountry Food Bank

Lowcountry Food Bank provides both education and nutritious options needed by partner agencies and schools that serve our community’s most vulnerable. This organization serves the ten coastal counties of South Carolina through distribution centers in Charleston, Yemassee, and Myrtle Beach. In 2018, Lowcountry Food Bank partnered with 300 agencies to serve 200,000 people, distributing 31,200,000 pounds of food. Those who feel moved to donate to this organization can give food, money, or time by joining the thousands of volunteers each year who volunteer to help fight hunger in our community. Volunteer opportunities include food sorting and packing, production kitchen, nutrition education, administrative support, and special events. For more options, check Lowcountry Food Bank’s website

Courageous Kidz

A non-medical, nonprofit organization that focuses on families devastated by childhood cancer, Courageous Kidz aims to pick up the pieces when life goes awry due to cancer, restore normalcy, and give the Magic of Hope. The challenges of a family facing cancer are copious and present long-term side effects, financial havoc, insurance conflicts, marital and familial conflict…the list is endless. Courageous Kidz strives to provide much-needed respite, mutual support, and positive activities free of charge to children and their families who are fighting cancer together. Their goal is to relieve as much stress as possible so children and their families can concentrate on beating cancer and getting well again! Courageous Kidz welcomes volunteers and donations to help them fulfill their mission of bringing a smile to children with cancer and their families. Find more information on how to do so here

I Heart Hungry Kids

In 2013, seven-year-old Jackson Silverman and his five-year-old twin brothers Gabe and Riley founded the nonprofit organization I Heart Hungry Kids. Since then, the boys have been recognized at the local, state, and national levels for their work with youth volunteers in South Carolina, living their motto, “kids helping kids to beat hunger.” I Heart Hungry Kids works with volunteers ages 5 through 15 to provide empowering opportunities for giving back through programs that impact kid hunger issues right here in Charleston. You’d be hard-pressed to think of a more worthy charity to support than one founded by children with such big hearts! Since 2013, I Heart Hungry Kids has provided 395,000 pounds of food, packed 82,000 bags of food, and provided 15,000 service hours via 5,000 youth volunteers through hands-on service, community engagement, and food advocacy. Find ways to volunteer, donate, or sponsor an event on their website.  

My Sister’s House

Founded in 1980, My Sister’s House, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that provides services, programs, and resources to empower victims of domestic violence and their children to live free from abuse. The organization operates an emergency temporary shelter at an undisclosed location for up to 36 women and children who flee abusive situations in Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester Counties. Their programs and services, which are all free to their clients, include outreach and training, advocacy, shelter, counseling/therapy, support groups, a children’s program, and more. So far in 2019, My Sister’s House has served 228 women and children in shelter, answered 1,768 crisis calls, and assisted with 790 court advocacy cases. There are multiple ways to donate or volunteer with this worthy organization, so check out their site for more information.

Meals on Wheels of Charleston

The primary goal of Meals on Wheels is to end senior isolation and hunger. Advances in medicine have extended the average life expectancy to a record high of almost 79 years of age. Living longer is an amazing thing, but it can also mean spending more years dealing with the struggles that accompany old age. Add to that the increase in geographic mobility of our families, and the result is millions of seniors left behind, hungry and alone. Meals on Wheels primarily provides nutritious meals, a quick safety check, and much-needed human connection to homebound seniors. In some communities, additional services are offered, like pet food delivery, senior center meal programs, and more. People age 85 and older represent the fastest growing segment of the American population. It takes a whole lot in the way of volunteers and resources to keep pace with this rapid growth, and it will take a large increase in volunteers and resources to begin to meet the needs going forward. Meals on Wheels is always looking for volunteers and donations, so check out their website for ways you can contribute

Your Local Senior Care Residence

Individuals who live permanently or temporarily under the care of assisted living are always grateful for company and donations. Many centers, rehabs, and residences welcome families who are willing to give their time and energy to help spread some holiday cheer to their residents under their care. Contact your local nursing home, assisted living facility, or senior center to see how you can help bring Christmas tidings to their residents. Throw a holiday party, play games, bring treats or decorations, or just spend some time listening to and chatting with the elderly and help make their days. 

 

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, just feed one.” ~Mother Teresa

Friday Five // November 29th, 2019

We hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Are you ready for December and the merry and bright holidays it brings along with it? To help you get this holiday season started off right, plan some good, old-fashioned fun times with the Friday Five, our weekly roundup of five fun events happening in the Charleston area this weekend. Enjoy a holiday parade or festival, shop local, hear some sweet carol bells and more. Whatever you choose to do, as always, the staff and agents at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company hope you have a very happy and safe weekend!

Once all the hubbub of Black Friday has passed, please don’t forget about Small Business Saturday! Be a part of the 10th annual holiday shopping tradition that brings together communities in support of their favorite small businesses. Be a part of the Shop Small Movement and support those local shops and businesses not just this Saturday, but as often as possible. Many small businesses throughout the Lowcountry will be running specials for Small Business Saturday. So get out and support your neighbors, friends, and acquaintances in their small business ventures. 

This Saturday, the Goose Creek Small Business Alliance along with Oak Landing Pediatric Dentistry will host the first annual Goose Creek Holiday Festival. This festival features more than eighty local businesses, artisans, craft vendors, food trucks, fun and games for all ages, live music, and last but certainly not least, Santa Claus himself! The event takes place from 10am until 3pm and is FREE to the public. Please note that this event is put on by a private groups of business owners and is not affiliated with the City of Goose Creek’s official Christmas parade or events. 

Kick off the holiday season in a big way at the City of Charleston Holiday Parade 2019 this Sunday. The parade begins at 3pm near Colonial Lake and continues up Broad Street to Meeting Street, dispersing on Calhoun Street near Marion Square. Grab your chairs and blankets, pack a thermos of hot chocolate, pick a prime spot, and get your waving arms ready! Some of Charleston’s favorite organizations, schools, sports clubs, shops, and more will march along the route—some handing out treats if you’re lucky! The parade will be followed by the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony in Marion Square, beginning at 4:30pm. 

Children within every spectrum of special needs are invited along with their families to a private photo session with Santa Claus at Mt. Pleasant Towne Centre this Sunday from 9am until 11am. Santa Cares: A Sensory-Friendly Santa Photo Experience gives children with special needs access to the time-honored tradition of a visit with Santa during dedicated hours. Santa Cares is held in partnership with Autism Speaks, an organization dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the lifespan, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. This event is not limited to children with autism, but is open to anyone who needs a little more time and a little less sensory stimulation. Visits with Santa are free, and photo packages that capture holiday memories will be available for purchase. One complimentary ticket per group or family should be reserved ahead of time on EventBrite. 

For some peaceful and glorious music to wrap up your holiday-filled weekend, head to Summerville Baptist Church on Sunday evening. The Palmetto Bronze Handbell Ensemble will present Need a Little Christmas?: a Free Holiday Handbell Concert. From 4pm until 5:30pm, enjoy many of your holiday favorites played on seven octaves of handbells and six octaves of hand chimes. Toe-tapping favorites like Have a Holly Jolly Christmas, Deck the Halls, All I Want for Christmas Is You, Wizards in Winter, Christmas Eve Sarajevo, The First Noel, and more will be featured at this event that is sure to please holiday-lovers of all ages.

Friday Five // November 22nd, 2019

It’s Friday once again, and you know what that means: time for another edition of the Friday Five, our weekly roundup of five fun events taking place in the Charleston area this weekend. Watch some polo and go on a balloon ride, feast on oysters in a beautiful setting, and more. And as always, no matter what you choose to do, the staff and agents at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company hope you have a very happy and safe weekend!

Start your Thanksgiving week early with dinner and a movie at Knightsville General Store and Country Cafe on Friday evening. Come early for dinner and stay for the backyard movie, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. The kitchen and store will remain open, and there will also be popcorn, snacks, and hot chocolate. Movie starts at 6:30pm. Bring your own chairs and/or blankets to spread out and sit on. No outside food or drinks will be allowed. 

Spend the weekend at Johns Island County Park celebrating Charleston’s Hot Air Balloon Festival & Victory Cup Polo Match! Now in its fourteenth year, this event isn’t just a polo match. It’s a network and social destination attracting thousands of people to enjoy a day of green grass, majestic horses, heart-pounding polo, dozens of food and alcohol partners, and beautiful hot air balloons. The 2019 Victory Cup Match & Hot Air Balloon Festival is kid- and pet-friendly. Enjoy balloon rides on Friday evening from 4pm until 9pm and Saturday morning from 7am until 10am. Saturday morning’s activities start at 7am with a scheduled Hot Air Balloon activation on the polo field. After the balloon launch, the food, wine, and polo portion of the schedule kicks off around 11am for Golden Mallet VIPs and Founder’s Lounge passholders. The VIP portion of the event includes live music, a Hospitality Alcohol Tasting Tent, and a kids’ play area. Founder’s Lounge Passholders can also enjoy a farm-to-table dinner on the polo field with the polo players. Both VIP and General Admission tickets include the hot air balloon portion of the event. 

Kick off the holidays at the College of Charleston this Saturday afternoon with Cistern on the Half Shell: a Lowcountry Oyster Roast. Enjoy oysters, chili, hot dogs, craft beer and wine, and live music from the Bluestone Ramblers. Student organizations, service clubs, sororities, and fraternities will host mini reunions for their alumni at tables around Cistern Yard. Clyde the Cougar will be on hand for photos, so bring your Cougar Cubs! Proceeds from Cistern on the Half Shell will benefit the Alumni Association’s programs and scholarships. Tickets are $65 per person and include alcoholic beverages for those 21 and older; tickets for persons age 15 and up that do not include alcoholic beverages are $5; tickets for children ages 7 through 14 are $20; children ages six and under are free. 

Head to McLeod Plantation on Saturday for a Unique Lowcountry Outing and Feast, hosted by the Center for Heirs Property Preservation. The event will feature live music from Graham Whorley as well as a delicious homemade BBQ feast by Richard Habersham. Historic tours of the plantation will also be available. Heather Hodges, Executive Director of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission is the featured guest speaker for this event. Tickets are $50, and sponsorship opportunities are also available.

For a little Christmas spirit, head to Mt. Pleasant Towne Centre on Saturday evening for Lights Up! Don’t miss the spectacular laser light show and the lighting of the 40-foot Christmas tree. There will be live musical performances from the East Cooper Baptist Church Choir & Orchestra and FAME Performing Art, a special performance by Gravel Road, a bluegrass band with a modern twist, featuring vocal harmony precision, popular song choices, and holiday favorites. And we can’t forget a visit from jolly old Saint Nicholas himself! There will be delicious treats and drinks available from Wine Cellar Wine & Gifts, Burtons Grill, Savi Cucina + Wine Bar, LongHorn Steakhouse, Sweet Julep’s, Dave N Dubs Hot Dogs, Charleston Pops, Pure Fluff, Holy City Popcorn, The Cookie Chick, King of Pops, and James Brown’s Famous Boiled Peanuts. Kids will enjoy face-painting, balloon animals, and a jump castle too. Camp Rise Above—whose mission is to provide life-changing camp experiences to children with serious illnesses, disabilities, and challenges—will be on hand selling Christmas Tree Wands and Christmas Bulb Necklaces so all event guests can Light Up too. Lights Up is sponsored by Roper St. Francis Mount Pleasant Hospital, AV Connections, and Y102.5.

How to Motivate Yourself to Get Organized for the Holiday Season

Getting your home organized can sometimes feel like an insurmountable task. When things have been neglected for a bit and have built up, it can be pretty difficult to motivate yourself to declutter and organize. But during this time of year, when you have family and friends dropping in periodically or gathering at your home for Thanksgiving and Christms festivities, it’s much easier to organize and clean beforehand than face scrambling at the last minute. Here are some great tips to help you motivate yourself to get organized ahead of the holiday season.

Make a list. 

Get a pen and some paper (or open up a computer doc if that’s easier) and just do a brain dump. List all the things you want/need to accomplish around the house, no matter how big or small. Getting everything out of your head and onto paper helps get your mind more organized and ready for the task at hand. When you’re finished, sort and order your list in whatever way helps you most, whether it’s by room, by task, or by order of importance. Highlight the things you need to accomplish first.

Plan an event. 

A really good way to force yourself to be motivated to clean and organize is to plan an event for a later date. It doesn’t have to be anything major—maybe just having some friends over for dinner or a wine night. But having an event marked on the calendar gives you an end goal, a deadline to work toward that will keep you motivated.

Get ready.

We’re not talking about running out to buy all the organizational containers your little heart desires. This will just add to the clutter for now. We’re talking about getting yourself ready. It’s tempting to just roll out of bed and get things started in your pajamas or sweats, but getting up and getting ready will put you in a work mindset and help you stay on track later. Get up, get showered and dressed, put on some comfy clothes and sneakers, put on some upbeat music or an audiobook, and get ready to work! 

Start with the task that makes the biggest impact.

Starting with the most impactful task helps you see progress right away and keeps you motivated. Often times, this means starting with decluttering and getting things off the floor and onto an elevated space, where you can sort through them later. Seeing less of the visible clutter will also help you feel calmer and less overwhelmed.  

Enlist help.

If you’re feeling too overwhelmed, call on a friend or family member who can help you get started. It sometimes takes a more subjective eye to help you figure out what kind of clutter you can get rid of and what areas need work. If you need more official help, look into a professional organizer who can come in and help you get into the right mindset and give you great tips for getting organized.

Make it fun. 

Set challenges for yourself. Set a timer and see how much you can accomplish in just ten or fifteen minutes. Reward yourself when you complete a task (but don’t get off-track). If you’re sorting through clothing or a collection of some sort, take it outside or into your favorite room to get the job done in a happier environment. 

Bring in fun organizing tools. 

Once you’ve finished the decluttering process and things don’t seem quite so impossible, you can start to bring in organizational bins or tools that inspire you. When you can see what you have left to organize and the space you have in which to store it, you’ll know exactly the type of organizing tools you need. Have some fun with it! Find bins or baskets in your favorite colors and textures. Making things look nice will assist you in wanting to keep it organized all the time. 

Friday Five // November 15th, 2019

It’s Friday once again, and there’s lots of fun to be had in the Charleston area! This week’s roundup of five fun events taking place in the Lowcountry includes gorgeous Chinese lanterns, a pet walk, a living-history event, and more. As always, no matter what you choose to do, the staff and agents at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company hope you have a very happy and safe weekend!

Step inside a unique blend of Chinese Culture and Southern hospitality, starting this weekend at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. Lights of Magnolia, a fully accessible walkthrough lights experience that’s fun for the whole family, is a nine-acre experience of larger-than-life Chinese lanterns in the shapes of flowers, animals, traditional Chinese symbols, and more. Stroll through 23 different themed areas, such as Shooting Starry Night, Dragon Walk, an Ostentation of Peacocks, and create unforgettable memories. Your ticket includes admission to Lights of Magnolia, parking at an off-site location, shuttle to Magnolia Plantation & Gardens, and the opportunity to purchase festival-exclusive merchandise and enjoy a nightly rotating selection of food trucks. This event takes place on Wednesdays through Sundays weekly through March 15th. 

Want to hang out with some super awesome, real-life superheroes? Bring the family to mason Preparatory School on Saturday from 10am until 1pm for Hanging with Heroes. Meet local firefighters and police, see firetrucks, police cars, and beyond. You’ll have the opportunity to interact with some favorite superheroes! In addition, there will be interactive activities, games, arts and crafts, food, local vendors, and more. Don’t miss this awesome family-friendly event hosted by Mason Preparatory School and Charleston Moms Blog. Get tickets ahead of time at the link above to avoid long lines and overcrowding.

This Saturday, you can join the Friends of Charles Towne Landing for Colonial Trades and Harvest Day, a living-history event that focuses on the diverse labor force of the early Carolina colony. From 10am until 4:30pm, attendees can interact with educators dressed in period clothing and learn about 17th century foodways, woodworking, timber-framing, fiber arts, dye production, the Indian trade, health-and-healing practices, and much more. Come see what life was like in the early settlement as the costumed interpreters prepare for a colonial winter at stations located inside the fortified area. Experiences will include colonial games, colonial foodways, and black powder demonstrations. 

Join the Charleston Animal Society at Riverfront Park on Saturday for Paws in the Park, a 5K run and walk to benefit Toby’s Medical Fun at Charleston Animal Society. Come out and run or walk for the animals and be their voice! This race is a family-friendly event for all skill levels. Complete the 5K, 5K with dogs, or ¼-mile petwalk for the animals, and then hang out with friends and pets while enjoying oysters, beer/cocktails, kids’ games, Hibachi Heroes, vendors, and more. The walk/run takes place at 9am, and the following festivities go on until 2pm. 

To show thanks for all the love and support they have received from the Charleston area community, King of Pops Charleston is putting on their first ever Field Day this Saturday. The event includes free popsicles, but most importantly, it’s a party for the community! The field day event will include games, face-painting, a bouncy house, goats to pet, balloons, a tie dye station, free pops, and more. Field Day takes place Saturday from noon until 3pm at Frothy Beard Brewing Company in West Ashley.

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