I was in the mall earlier this week and the door had not even closed behind me before I was reminded—holiday shopping madness is upon us! We all look forward to this season of giving and spending time with our loved ones…but every year, aren’t we all confronted with the problem of buying a gift for at least one person who seems to have everything?
Sumter has numerous community organizations to help you solve this problem, while at the same time making a valuable contribution to the wonderful facilities, programs and entertainment that make our area such a great place to live. Have you had a chance to admire Grainger McKoy’s Recovery sculpture at Swan Lake Iris Gardens? Enjoyed a Broadway-quality stage production at the Sumter Little Theatre? Had your eyes (and thoughts) stimulated by an exhibition at the Sumter County Gallery of Art? Admired the beautiful planters adorning Main Street? Eaten hand-churned butter atop a slab of fresh bread at one of the Sumter County Museum’s Backcountry Days?
If so, it’s thanks largely to the membership-based organizations that support so many of our community attractions. Here at Swan Lake, we often see travelers from other parts of the United States and many of them ask, “Do you take donations? Is there some way that we can give something back to this beautiful place?” For the record, we are not allowed to take donations—but we can (and do!) give them a membership/contribution form for the Friends of Swan Lake. And the other attractions and events mentioned above are supported in large part by the following:
- Members of the Sumter Little Theatre and the Sumter County Gallery of Art,
- The Main Street Society, and
- Friends of the Sumter County Museum.
A membership to one of these organizations may be the perfect gift for the “hard to buy for” person on your list. Not only is it a great chance to give something back to our community (and help keep our shopping dollars local), many memberships offer some pretty cool perks, such as discounted admission and special members-only events.
These are not the only organizations in town that rely on member contributions for assistance in bringing quality programs to the Sumter community. This weekend, the Friends of the Sumter County Library are hosting their annual book sale, with proceeds going to library programs and services. (And just in case you didn’t know, the Library provides the films for the summer children’s and Downtown Friday Nights movie series at the Sumter Opera House.)
So, get out this weekend, and grab some major bargains at the Friends’ book sale (as a lifelong bookworm, I look forward to it all year—and then wonder where I’m going to keep all these newly-acquired volumes!). And please consider a membership to a community organization as a gift for one of your friends or family members. Need a little help thinking of the right one? The City of Sumter website has directories of clubs and organizations online here and here. (Please note: this information is provided as a service and does not imply any endorsement of, nor recommendation by, the City of Sumter.)
Gifts can be tough to choose. I think everyone can recognize the “game face” of someone who opens a box and is trying to hide his or her disappointment…and most parents have probably had the experience of pulling their kids out of empty packing boxes on Christmas (come on—wasn’t that the best part?). But giving a membership for a cause that your loved one cares about…that will never disappoint, and it’s truly a gift that keeps giving, all year long!