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Part of what makes Charleston such a special place is its citizens commitment to giving back to our community, and once a year we celebrate those individuals and organizations that help make the Lowcountry such an amazing place. The Giving Back Awards, presented by TD Bank and hosted by Charleston Magazine and the Coastal Community Foundation, featured nonprofits nominated by Charlestonians, giving awards for volunteer, community catalyst, and business of the year. Those who attended were invited to vote via text message for the nonprofit of the year, which was announced at the end of the night. Guests arriving to the Charleston Music Hall found a line for the red carpet photo booth stretching down the street. Partygoers stepped out in cocktail attire, and philanthropists, friends, family, and attendees milled about the crowded lobby chatting and sipping wine. Then everyone made their way into the auditorium for the evening’s entertainment. The night kicked off with the sounds of the Charleston Jazz Orchestra, and soon Quiana Parler took the stage. Her powerful voice drew an enthusiastic response from the crowd, and then the night’s emcee, Mickey Bakst, took the stage. Nicknamed “Mr. Hospitality”, Bakst was the recipient of the 2011 Giving Back Award for Community Catalyst of the Year. The night was filled with awards, honors, and informative videos on our local charitable organizations interspersed with captivating entertainment from hip hop violinist Daniel D., the Charleston Jazz Orchestra Chamber Ensemble, and vocalist Leah Suarez. Volunteer extraordinaire Lee Batten was voted “Volunteer of the Year”, while Alcoa Mt. Holly took the award for Business of the Year. The ever-charming Archie Burkel of The Hat Ladies was chosen as Community Catalyst of the Year and opened her acceptance speech with the words, “You like the Hat Ladies, you really like the Hat Ladies!” Partygoers voted throughout the show, and soon it was time to announce the winner for the 2012 Nonprofit of the Year: The Charleston Animal Society. The show drew to a close with a standing ovation, and partygoers couldn’t help but feel utterly inspired as they left the Charleston Music Hall.

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