By today, you know where you are eating Thanksgiving dinner, and you may even be revving up for the great Black Friday (er, early Thursday) shopping blitz.

If you are like some people, the Christmas tree goes up practically before the turkey leftovers are wrapped, and gifts are under the tree by Saturday.

But what sometimes is lost in all this merriment is the simple joy of being thankful for what we have just by living in the Lowcountry. Between our great surroundings and the generous people who live here, there's no better place to be.

For instance, more than 72,000 people texted their votes on Friday night for the nonprofit of the year at Charleston Magazine and the Coastal Community Foundation's Giving Back Awards. The Charleston Animal Society came out on top, and it's amazing that so many people cared enough to take the time to text.

But all the nonprofits honored do work that proves our community is the real winner. For instance, Darkness to Light is an organization that has focused its efforts on training people to recognize childhood sexual abuse and how to report it. Sam Hines, provost at The Citadel, is proud that everyone at his college, including the staff, faculty and students, are receiving the training, making it one of the first colleges in the nation to raise this level of awareness.

The Historic Charleston Foundation continues its work in rehabilitating neighborhoods and saving historic homes. One project that is a departure for the foundation is the renovation of 66 Lee St. in partnership with Habitat for Humanity. This frees up funds for other projects that might not work this way and involves a great collaboration.

Two of the other nonprofits have a global reach, even though they are funded in Charleston. Water Missions International makes portable water systems to send to disaster areas, most recently responding to the cholera epidemic that hit Haiti after Superstorm Sandy struck the area. And Palmetto Medical Initiative has a medical clinic with a continuous presence in Masindi in Uganda.

But there are other organizations that are the brainchildren of individuals with a passion, proving that it doesn't take a big organization to get things done.

Charleston Waterkeeper was the inspiration of Cyrus Buffum, who patrols the Charleston area waters looking for problems with runoff and industrial pollution, and then has a group of people that works to limit the problems.

Keeper of the Wild is a small organization founded by Janet Kinser in St. George that takes in wild creatures that have been hurt and rehabilitates and relocates them.

The S.C. Aquarium runs the Sea Turtle Hospital for injured animals. They nurse these wonderful creatures and return them to the wild if they can.

The list of worthy organizations goes on, and this is the season for giving.

If you have an organization that you love, now is the time to help them out, either in a financial gift or one of time.

My guess is the reward you get back will make your holidays just that much brighter and our community a better place to live.

Reach Stephanie Harvin at 937-5557 or