Give back and give thanks

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While the feast at Thanksgiving often takes center stage, it is important to remember the meaning behind the celebration. Being thankful for the blessings you have is what makes Thanksgiving truly special.

To make your Turkey Day great this year, why not give thanks and give back? A focus of Ohio Valley Bank’s Community First mission is to help make the communities we serve a better place. Volunteering and helping others is part of that mission, and what better time of year to lend a helping hand than Thanksgiving?

There are many ways you can give back this Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season. To start, count the blessings you currently have. Nothing makes you more ready to help others than to be grateful. Here are some ideas to get you started on what you can do to help make someone’s Thanksgiving extra special this year:

  1. Host a food drive. In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, start a food drive in your local neighborhood and/or workplace. Encourage people to donate non-perishable items, which will go toward a local soup kitchen or food bank. This is a great thing to keep going throughout the holiday season, and more importantly throughout the year. Donations do tend to come in more plentiful during the holidays, so strive to keep your food drive going well past the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons.
  2. Volunteer to help prep/serve dinner. Many soup kitchens, shelters, and church groups often host Thanksgiving dinners for those in need. Look into what you can do to be involved. Whether you help with meal prep beforehand or serve meals, this is a great way to give back and truly see firsthand how important it is to lend a hand in your community.
  3. Host dinner for people who have no place to go. While we often celebrate Thanksgiving meals with our families, we may not realize that there are many people who don’t live near their relatives and end up spending the holiday alone. Whether it’s a co-worker without dinner plans, a friend, or maybe your children’s friends, open your home and give those folks that would otherwise be alone a place to enjoy dinner this year.
  4. Run or walk a Turkey Trot. Turkey Trots are a great way to not only get in some exercise this Thanksgiving, but many race proceeds go toward various charities. Sign up to run with your family and make it a tradition. Locally, on Thursday, Nov. 23, at Barboursville Park in Barboursville, W.Va., the Racing Hunger 5K Turkey Trot will take place. The proceeds will go toward providing meals and supplemental food assistance to locals in need. In Huntington, W.Va., the Huntington Turkey Trot is also scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 23. The race will take place at Ritter Park. All proceeds will benefit the Little Victories No Kill Animal Shelter.
  5. Visit senior citizen centers and/or nursing homes. Sometimes just spending time with someone can make their day. The holidays can be a lonely time for many people, especially the elderly. Contact your local center for visiting hours and get a group of friends together to volunteer. Singing songs, making crafts, or simply just having a conversation with a nursing home resident can make their day and Thanksgiving especially great.
  6. Help your fur friends. Animal shelters seek donations of food and toys year round. Don’t forget the critters this holiday and organize a donation drive for these lovable animals in need. Contact your local animal shelter for more information on how to get started.
  7. Reconnect with old friends and family. Sometimes without meaning to do so, we lose touch with our friends and even some family members. Instead of sending a card or letting another holiday slip away, give your old friend a call this Thanksgiving. It can make them feel special and it will make you feel good to reconnect as well. A simple phone call is all it takes to make someone’s day great.
  8. Donate blood. Giving the gift of life is a wonderful way to help those in need this Thanksgiving and holiday season. So often, we only think to give blood during times of crisis, however blood donations are needed year round. Contact your local hospital and/or Red Cross for more information.
  9. Volunteer at your local children’s hospital. No one likes to spend their holidays sick, especially children. Around the holidays many children’s hospitals or pediatric wings allow volunteers to come read and entertain their patients. Locally, the Hoops Family Children’s Hospital at Cabell-Huntington Hospital in Huntington, W.Va., is a good place to start. Contact Hoops for more information on what you can do to help.
  10. Stick with it. While Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to give back, our communities are in need the entire year. However you choose to volunteer or whatever helpful project you take part in, make it a goal to keep up your efforts throughout the year.

There are several other ways to give back this Thanksgiving. We hope you are inspired to help your communities. Have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving!

Have a holly jolly Christmas with local events

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Santa Claus and OVB President and CEO Tom Wiseman spread Christmas cheer at the Mini Bank

It’s the most wonderful time of the year indeed as many festive local events are set to make this holiday season memorable.

Christmas isn’t just about gifts and food, it’s also a great time to come together as a community while spending time with your family. Our area has many different holiday activities on tap for everyone to enjoy.

Kicking off this year’s festivities is the Holiday Bazaar in Mt. Sterling, Ohio. The event, slated for Saturday, Nov. 4, will take place at the Community Center. In Jackson, Ohio, there will be a Winter Wonderland and Craft Show Nov. 5-6 at the YMCA.

You won’t want to miss the largest night time illuminated Christmas Parade in Southern Ohio, which is scheduled for Saturday Nov. 18 in Waverly. The parade will begin at 5 p.m. and wind through the streets of town. More festive events, including a Jingle Bell 5K Run and indoor craft show at Waverly High School, will also take place Saturday morning. For more information and a full schedule of the weekend’s festive events, call 740-947-9650.

See the Christmas season come to light starting Nov. 17 with the Christmas Fantasy Light Show in Point Pleasant, W.Va. The event will run until Dec. 31 from 6-9 p.m. every evening at Krodel Park. Across the river in Gallipolis, Ohio, the Gallipolis City Park will be illuminated in the holiday season as well. The 5th Annual Gallipolis in Lights Park Lighting will take place Nov. 22. To celebrate the lighting’s kick-off, a variety of entertainment is scheduled. The Gallipolis Twirling Angels will perform at 5:30 p.m. with live Christmas music on the stage to follow. Cookies and hot chocolate will be available to keep everyone warm and toasty.

You will be able to see one of the classic holiday tales come to life with The Marshall University School of Theatre’s presentation of “A Christmas Carol.” Shows are scheduled for 7:30 p.m., Nov. 15-18, at the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center in Huntington, W.Va. Tickets are free to full-time Marshall students. For more information on regular pricing and tickets, call the box office at 304-696-6395.

From Nov. 22-Dec. 22 you can check out the Holiday Exhibit at the French Art Colony in Gallipolis. The exhibit will feature work by a local artist. Hours are from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Festive fun will take center stage on Friday, Dec. 1, in Point Pleasant with the evening Christmas parade and Tree Lighting at Gunn Park. The events will begin at 6 p.m. On Saturday, Dec. 2, the Mason/New Haven Christmas Parade will also take place at noon. Christmas Parade fun is slated on Dec. 2 in Gallipolis as well. The parade will start at 1 p.m. with the route making its way down 2nd Ave. to the City Park. Santa will be the featured float and will be in his house at the park following the parade. Be sure to check out our OVB elves in the parade with the bank’s Christmas Express float!

Santa will also be available at his house in the park for several more days before he makes his way back to the North Pole for Christmas Eve. For more information, call 740-446-6882.

More holiday activities will take place Dec. 2, including Christmas on the Frontier at Krodel Park’s Fort Randolph in Point Pleasant. In Wellston, Ohio, enjoy Christmas Treats on Wellston Streets from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. The traditional hometown holiday event will feature a silent auction of decorated Christmas trees, carolers on the streets, special events in local businesses, and arts and crafts.

On Sunday, Dec. 3, the Mt. Sterling Community Center will host Christmas in the Village from 2-4 p.m.

“A Charlie Brown Christmas LIVE!” will bring another holiday favorite to the stage on Dec. 5. The performance featuring the Peanuts gang is slated for 7 p.m. at the Keith Albee Performing Arts Center in Huntington. For more information, contact the box office at 304-696-6656.

On Dec. 9 in Huntington, round up the kiddos to get their picture taken with Santa all the while supporting the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Huntington. The event will run from 10 a.m.-noon at FPC Huntington. In addition to pictures with Santa there will be super heroes, including Batman, as well as cookies, crafts, and face painting. All event proceeds will help children and their families who stay at the Ronald McDonald House.

In Gallipolis, the “Voices of Christmas” show will take place Dec. 16 at the Ariel Theatre from 7-9:30 p.m. For more information, call the Ariel at 740-446-2787.

Even more holiday lights will come to life Dec. 8-17 with the Christmas Light Show at the West Virginia State Farm Museum in Point Pleasant. These lights transform the museum grounds into a unique Christmas village. You can view the lights from 6-9 p.m. each evening.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!