Springfield, MO

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Community Concerns

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by Jan Horton

I am happy to announce that the 1998 "giving season" has commenced.

Roughly described as running from mid-November till New Year's Eve, during the giving season we are informed by newspapers, magazines, television and radio of giving opportunities and individual stories of need.

Grocery stores and restaurants give us opportunities to make small charitable donations, and grateful charitable organizations serving the less fortunate do their best to tell their stories to the giving public with mail campaigns and special events tied to the holidays.

If I could have one wish this time each year, it would be that we never let ourselves become cynical about the giving season that we never "tune out" the stories, the appeals and the need. That we always remember to thank the media for the role they play in awakening and informing the giving spirit. And that we respond not only to a plea that is put before us, but make a proactive gift to a worthwhile cause which has not issued a plea, but which serves an important human need.

I would urge all of us to have special compassion and patience for those affected by welfare reform and realize they may still need that helping hand that sends them to "Share your Christmas," Crosslines, The Kitchen, the Salvation Army or Victory Mission this Christmas.

'Tis a privilege to give in the Ozarks. Two very special events occur during the giving season which provide recognition to those who give of their time and money to improve the quality of life for all of us, Philanthropy Day and the annual Jewell Thompson Schweitzer Humanitarian of the Year Award luncheon.

Philanthropy Day is presented each November by the Ozark chapter of the National Society of Fund Raising Executives, which honors philanthropy in several categories.

Ben and Jean Parnell are being honored with the Outstanding Philanthropist of the Year Award. At Drury College, their gifts have included support for the communication building, the naming gift for the Pi Beta Phi suite in the Freeman Panhellenic Building and an endowed chair in the Breech School of Business Administration, as well as a charitable remainder unitrust to establish a major scholarship fund for students from Branson.

Ben and Jean recently made a significant contribution to the Dickerson Park Zoo's new Diversity of Life project, funding the portion that will house species native to Missouri and the Ozarks.

Other award recipients include:

?The J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation, receiving the Outstanding Foundation of the Year Award for granting more than $11 million to Ozarks organizations;

?N.L. "Mac" McCartney, receiving the Outstanding Volunteer Fund Raiser Award for his work with the Boys and Girls Town of Missouri;

?KYTV, receiving the Outstanding Media Award for offering air time for public service announcements; and

?V.F. Jeanswear Inc., of Lebanon (Lee Jeans), Outstanding Corporation, having donated 6,000 pairs of jeans to the Boys and Girls Town alone since 1990.

The Outstanding Philanthropic Organization awardee is the Rotary Clubs of Springfield Springfield, Southeast and Sunrise for their grants to Habitat for Humanity, to the Police Department for drug dogs and a mobile crime unit, and in developing "Super Summers," a book to help teenagers find meaningful summertime work and play opportunities.

The Outstanding Fund Raising Executive is Lisa Hamaker, who, in her position as development director of Springfield Little Theatre for seven years, has played a key role in raising almost a million dollars in capital gifts to restore the historic theater, as well as raising annual operating funds and directing special event fund raising.

Clary's American Grill, Outstanding Small Business of the Year, is known for its many contributions of time and food to local charities, including Zoofari and KOZK's Wine and Food Celebration.

And coming up is the Community Foundation's ninth annual Jewell Thompson Schweitzer Humanitarian of the Year Award. This year's recipient will be named at a luncheon Dec. 2 and receive a cash grant of $3,000 for charity.

Last year's recipient was Dr. Jim Blaine, tireless advocate for the good health of our community, who was honored for his work with the Child Advocacy Center, the DWI Task Force, his efforts to have automatic external defibrillators installed in ambulances and his work in discouraging teen-age smoking.

Blaine's charitable grant will provide a "community billboard" for the use of local charitable organizations. Blaine has served on the City-County E-911 Board, Ozarks Fighting Back and is past president of the Greene County Medical Society.

(Jan Horton is executive director of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks.)

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