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A strong sense of community is one of the most attractive aspects of living in Charleston, and Charleston magazine celebrated those individuals and organizations dedicated to giving back to and improving our great city with the Giving Back Awards at the Charleston Music Hall on Friday, November 18.

Award nominees gathered at the Charleston Place Hotel for a VIP cocktail hour before being shuttled off to the Charleston Music Hall, where guests posed for the camera on the red carpet. After mugging for the camera, partygoers squeezed into the lobby for a cocktail hour with some of Charleston’s most admirable philanthropists.

Soon everyone made their way into the hall, where Quianna Parler and the Charleston Jazz Orchestra captivated the crowd before the start of the awards ceremony.

The evening was a lesson in the power of the individual and the importance of community, and guests cheered loudly for each very deserving honoree. Patricia Coker-Bolt, Tara Guerard, The Charleston School of Law, and Mickey Bakst delivered moving speeches of gratitude and humility, and the audience came to their feet as Dr. Charles Darby received the Jerry Zucker Lifetime Achievement Award.

Vocalist Leah Suarez joined the Charleston Jazz Orchestra on stage for a beautiful performance after the intermission, and partygoers texted their choice for the Nonprofit of the Year as the show began to draw to a close. The American Red Cross, Camp Happy Days, Pattison’s Academy, Rein & Shine, and the Roper St. Francis Ryan White Program each presented moving, informative videos regarding their organizations, and the audience again came to their feet as the American Red Cross received the 2011 Giving Back Award for Nonprofit of the Year. CJO conductor Charlton Singleton wrapped up the evening’s festivities with a beautiful tune in tribute to beloved Lowcountry writer, historian, and jazz activist Jack McCray.

The Giving Back Awards are hosted annually by Charleston magazine to support, promote, and recognize nonprofit organizations throughout the Lowcountry. This year’s Giving Back Awards was presented in association with the Coastal Community Foundation, and finalists and winners were voted on by Charleston residents.