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Originally published Monday, December 23, 2013 at 8:06 PM

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In a year of parties, a city keeps its focus on giving

Nicole Brodeur takes a look at the giving spirit in Seattle, highlighting recent charitable efforts and the causes they benefit.


Seattle Times staff columnist

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At the end of a year of boldfaced names, of air kisses and swirling trays of cocktails, of testimonials and the dreaded “ask” and standing in line at the coat check, it seems there’s one name that I haven’t mentioned at all.

Seattle.

Beneath the pushed-up bosoms and suited-up swagger of this city’s party set, beats a thinking, generous heart that knows how good it has it.

It knows how lucky it is to live and work and raise our kids here. And that beyond the ballroom walls are needs as basic as soap and as vital as life itself.

We don’t just give here — although, we love our tax write-offs and swag bags, thank you very much. We invest in people we’ll never meet in places we’ll never see. And in that sense, the Christmas spirit lives around here all year long.

Two highlights, though, from our holiday giving.

The recent Seattle Symphony Orchestra’s Holiday Musical Salute raised $170,000 for the Seattle Symphony Player’s Pension Plan — a record haul.

Two weeks ago, Pete Nordstrom’s Seattle Musicians for Children’s hospital (SMooCH) raised $330,000 to fund uncompensated care at Seattle Children’s — kids whose families can’t afford the treatment they need.

Seattle is always finding new ways to raise money, as well.

As I write this, fans of hometown heroes Pearl Jam and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are trying to out-donate one another in The Stranger’s “Slog Holiday Charity Challenge.” Others are donating in support of the weekly paper’s wonderfully bitchy, bull’s-eye of a blog, The Slog.

You’re pitting local music fans against each other, but it’s for the kids!

The money raised — $103,057.76 as of Monday — is all going to YouthCare’s Orion Center, which cares for the homeless kids we all see on the city’s streets. (www.youthcare.org). And the money raised so far doesn’t even include the $100,000 — via gifts of $50,000 each — being pitched in by the Seattle band and hip-hop duo.

Each group (Pearl Jam’s fans are in the lead with $46,720.27, just saying) are upping the ante by donating prizes for those who give. A signed, “Same Love” 7-inch; or a “Lightning Bolt” box set.

But beyond the box sets and ballrooms are local companies finding ways to invest in the organizations that make Seattle so very special; they didn’t make a sale without cutting a check for a worthy cause. (And it’s an investment we can still make before the end of the year.)

From the good women on Whidbey Island comes the Hedgebrook Cookbook, a collection of recipes that have nourished women writers plying their craft from cabins in the woods. Literally.

It’s amazing stuff: Writers have penned sonnets about the shortbread cookies (Gloria Steinem’s favorite) and knocked each other over to get to the vegetarian lasagna.

Proceeds from the sale of the cookbook go right back to Hedgebrook and its mission “to nurture the voices and work of a growing global community of women writers.” I’d call that money well spent. (www.hedgebrook.com)

But glassybaby votives may just be the epitome of Seattle’s culture of giving. The company has given $1.5 million since it started in 1998.

Not only does the company give a percentage of every sale to charity, it creates colors in their honor.

Right now, its “Given to Fly” votive — a lovely gray — benefits Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy Foundation , which funds various causes.

The sale of glassybaby “drinkers” benefits the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to support the health needs of veterans.

Last week, glassybaby released a color called “Belle” that will benefit Solid Tumor Translational Research, in honor of Babes Against Brain Cancer (www.glassybaby.com).

It may be Christmas Eve, but there’s still time to be a Secret Santa. A Seattle Santa who gives to keep the city what it is, and what it could be — and looks good doing it.

See you at the coat check in 2014.

Nicole Brodeur’s column appears Tuesday and Sunday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or nbrodeur@seattletimes.com.



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