Celebrating the city’s spirit of generosity

Published: Tuesday, November 26, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 22, 2013 at 2:44 p.m.

Here’s what we see when we look at our community: Talent and creative energy. Innovation and good fortune. Kindness and generosity. Hard work and commitment.

And amidst it all, of course, we see need.

It doesn’t take the holidays to remind us that while Gainesville is blessed with so many gifts, they aren’t shared equally. There are many here who struggle for what the luckier among us take for granted.

That’s why the most valuable of Gainesville’s riches is the number of our neighbors who work selflessly for others — for the poor, the homeless, the medically underserved — or to spread the joy of art and education. Gainesville is fortunate in its share of good souls who walk the walk.

That’s what we celebrate every year at holiday time with our Spirit of Gainesville Awards, sponsored by Gainesville Magazine and The Gainesville Sun. This year we’ve grown to six categories: Arts, Community Service, Entrepreneurship, Medicine and — new this year — Education and Youth.

We profile the winners in the pages of this issue. And while there is just one official winner per category, we have dozens of honorees in each, nominated by fellow Gainesvillians who have observed their good works and are grateful. We feted them all at a reception, fittingly, the Monday before Thanksgiving.

We also take a look at the state of Gainesville’s charitable giving...and its challenges.

This is our holiday issue, so we offer you a guide to the season’s bounty: You’ll find suggestions for artful gifts from local museums and a botanical garden; resort destinations brimming with Christmas sparkle. We sample the festive traditions of some local families. We stroll the lush (and edible) grounds of John and Sheila Spence’s northwest Gainesville property. We offer you a respite sure to calm the holiday chaos — a quiet cup of tea. And we preview Dance Alive’s annual performance of “The Nutcracker” with a holiday fashion spread inspired by the classic ballet.

Speaking of dance, don’t miss our new photo essay feature, In Focus. This issue, we take you backstage at the Phillips Center for Performing Arts to see the set up for Diavalo Dance Theater, known for its massive, intricate sets.

There’s so much more within this issue. We hope you enjoy every page.

Thank you, and happy, healthy, holidays.

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