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5 ways to give back to the community this holiday season




As the saying goes: ‘tis better to give than receive.

During the holidays, more people are looking to give back to the community, but it can be hard to find the right opportunity that lets you focus on a cause that’s close to your heart—and that works with your schedule.

Whether you’re looking to donate items, make a financial contribution or roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty, we’ve got you covered. Here are just a few ways you can do good this holiday season.

Food Insecurity

Many holidays include big meals, often with those special dishes you only get once a year—Grandma’s stuffing, Uncle Joe’s pies. Yet for many, having a hot meal is a struggle each year. Franklin County residents miss 69 million meals, according to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank. The Foodbank connects families with needed food via 650 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, after-school programs and senior housing sites, and connecting people with community services to help them become economically sufficient. Volunteers are always needed to help sort and pack food, donate food or donate funds.


Each year, more than 10,000 people in Franklin County experience homelessness, according to Lutheran Social Services (LSS). The organization provides shelter to those experiencing homelessness through its Faith Mission program. You can volunteer to serve meals, connect clients with resources, provide medical care and assist in the donation center.

The YWCA Family Center provides emergency shelter to families while they find permanent housing. You can volunteer to provide and serve dinner at the center, or babysit for parents while they attend training. You can also donate needed items or make a financial contribution.


Domestic Violence

Domestic violence a ects women—and men—from all walks of life. According to LSS, one in three women and one in four men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. Lutheran Social Services’ CHOICES for Victims of Domestic Violence provides shelter and other services to those who have experienced domestic violence. You can volunteer to provide and serve meals in the kitchen or sort donations in the donation center.

Animal Welfare

There’s nothing like the unconditional love of our four-legged friends. Last year, the Franklin County Dog Shelter and Adoption Center cared for more than 9,200 dogs in its shelter. The organization provides care for impounded animals, and adoption and lost dog services. It also educates the community about safe and responsible dog ownership. You can volunteer to provide care, training, exercise and enrichment for dogs. You can also donate funds or needed items.

Find Your Niche

Not sure what you want to do? Besa connects individuals and organizations with a variety of local charities including food pantries, arts and educational organizations, and animal shelters. To date, individuals and organizations have contributed more than $1.9 million in goods and services and nearly 62,000 volunteer hours to nonprofits through a connection from Besa. Not only is this a service available for volunteers, but also organizations looking to get the word out about adding helping hands to upcoming projects and events.

Similarly, LoveCbus was started by a local ministry after it received a networking database that was built out but unused. The team realized that with a little polishing, the database could connect those who want to show Columbus a little love with volunteer opportunities and connect people in need with local services. Once you complete a profile, you’re connected to volunteer opportunities matched to your interests and schedule.

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Things To Do

Hit Your Peak: 3 worth-the-drive ski slopes near Columbus

Asa Herron



The cursed Ohio Winter Monster has made its presence known to all with its 5pm sunsets, snow storms, and seasonal depression for all. How are you going to fight back against the gloom this year? It may seem like it’s impossible to do fun things with your friends or to stay active in the winter, but I’m here to tell you that not all hope is lost. Finding a new hobby is a great way to kick your winter woes to the curb and start the new decade on a good foot.

Skiing can be a great way to casually exercise with friends and resuscitate your serotonin levels. Here are three high quality places to ski within driving distance of Columbus for you to check out.


Located in Zanesfield, Mad River Mountain is about an hour's drive northwest of Columbus. They have the most reasonable prices of all the nearby ski resorts. Plus, their on-property bar, The Loft, has 12 taps of craft beers on rotation to add a little more fun to the night. Mad River is open until 1 a.m. on Fridays, too, so you’re getting a full Friday night of flurries.

Mad River is home to over 20 trails (spanning 3.9 miles) and four terrain parks making it the largest ski resort in Ohio. They also bolster ten ski lifts (the most in Ohio) and are tied with Snowtrails for the largest vertical drop in the state with their 300 foot slope. An added perk of Mad River is that they just built a new $6.2 million facility in 2016 to replace the space they lost to a fire in 2015. Plus, most of their trails are designated “easy” difficulty. Mad River has everything you need to have a relaxing, affordable day of skiing.

Details on hours and pricing can be found at


Founded in 1961, Snowtrails is Ohio’s oldest ski resort. It is located in Mansfield, so also about an hour drive north. This resort is only slightly more expensive, with lift rates starting at $31 for midweek evenings and $52 for all-day on the weekends, with skis, boots, and pole rentals are $37. If there’s one day this month that you visit Snowtrails, let it be January 25 for their mid-season party. Get ready for an outdoor DJ, a custom built snowbar, and a fireworks show 30 minutes after the slopes close for the night. Not into skiing? No problem! The party is free and open to the public, so let your expert friends hit the slopes while you hit the spirits at the snow bar.

Snowtrails is the second largest resort in the state with six ski lifts and 3.3 miles of trails. The majority of their trails are designated “intermediate” difficulty, so more experienced skiers will enjoy their time here.

More information can be found at www.


Boston Mills & Brandywine is the farthest ski resort from Columbus on this list, but great for a full weekend away. This quaint resort is in Peninsula, OH is a two hour drive from Central Ohio. Their pricing is $40 after 3:30 p.m. and $45 for an all-day pass. Staying another night? Come back on Saturday for $5 Late Nights admission from 8:00 PM to 1:00 AM.

Boston Mill & Brandywine ski resort is known for being especially conducive to beginning skiers. They offer high quality lessons and will walk you through the process. This is the place to go if you have “stupid” questions about skiing, or just want to tube. However, they also appeal to veteran skiers as the majority of their 18 trails are designated “advanced”. Despite the high quantity of trails, this resort is much smaller than the other two, with only 1.2 miles of skiable trails, and their largest vertical drop being 264 feet. But for these prices? Could definitely be worth the trip.

Learn more about Boston Mills & Brandywine at

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Arts & Culture

Watch: “World’s largest mural” in Short North is more than meets the eye

Regina Fox



At a glance, "The Journey AR Mural" adorning the Graduate Columbus hotel in Short North is stunning. Look a little harder, and it actually comes to life.

Standing at over 107 feet tall and over 11,000 square feet of augmented reality, "The Journey AR Mural," is the world's largest AR mural, offering technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user's view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.

The gaily-painted snapdragons, hibiscus, Easter lilies, and hummingbirds bloom and fly when viewed through the Journey AR Mural app (free for iPhone and Android). Watch the murals come to life in the video below.

Los Angeles-based artists Ryan Sarfati and Eric Skotnes (going by “Yanoe” and “Zoueh," respectively) are the creatives behind the project.

In an interview with Short North Arts District, Skotnes revealed he was inspired to take on the project after learning that Columbus is home to the second largest population of Somali immigrants in the country—he hopes the murals symbolize strength and prosperity for its viewers.

To learn more about The Journey AR Mural, visit

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Food & Drink

Worth the Drive: Lima’s Kewpee Hamburgers

Regina Fox



Lima, OH may not be the first destination that comes to mind when planning a road trip, but you may have to reconsider after learning about a little (AKA one of the oldest burger chain in the world) not-so-hidden gem called Kewpee Hamburgers.

It all started in 1923 when Kewpee Hotel Hamburgs opened in Flint, Michigan. This was home to the "Mity nice Hamburger," which could be purchased for just a nickel. Kewpee was also known for its life-sized naked mascot baby, created to the likeness of the classic comic strip Kewpie dolls.

By 1940, the chain rebranded to simply "Kewpee Hamburgers," and was 400-locations strong. From Ohio to New York City, Kewpee's stole the hearts of Americans with its square patties, hot chili, thick shakes, homey diner atmosphere, and not-to-be-beaten prices.

During its rise to popularity, Kewpee also managed to revolutionize the fast food game by becoming one of the first restaurants to offer a drive-thru.

But much to the dismay of its fans far and wide, most restaurants in the franchise met their demise during WWII meat shortages.

Kewpee's time-honored legacy lives on in Lima, OH where the only three remaining restaurants are located. Despite its novelty across the country, Kewpee continues to offer guests their beloved greasy grub at rock-bottom prices ($2.45 for a cheeseburger? Take that, Five Guys).

It's hard to believe that such a famed piece of America's food history is just 90 minutes from Columbus, but it's true and definitely worth the drive. How could you say no to this innocent, yet slightly ominous face?

To learn more about Kewpee Hamburgers, click here.

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