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Understanding the concept of gratitude often requires the absence of something: Cold makes us thankful for warmth. Hunger makes us thankful for food. Chaos makes us thankful for calm.

 

Yet, at times, we want the opposite of those things. Maybe, then, we should simply be grateful for our experience and live from that posture. When we live in gratitude, we aren’t limiting ourselves to a limited vision, determination, or expectation. With this perspective—that we have what we need—it’s easier, perhaps desirable even, to help others feel the same.

 

The people we highlight each year in our Giving Issue remind us of the benefit of living in gratitude. Based on their stories, it seems that when we’re thankful, we are more willing to give. And when we freely give, we also gain. It’s a curious observation, particularly as we’re inundated with tragic news and life extremes that seem to counter the notion of being grateful.

 

Take, for example, Cheryl “Wink” McLeod. Wink is a nurse anesthetist and a longtime Greenville resident. Tragically, her daughter Maggie passed away in 2005 at age 19 in a car accident. Understandably, Wink’s world was shattered, but she wanted to transform her loss into a lasting memory to honor the life of her daughter. She wanted her daughter’s legacy—and her own loss—to help the lives of thousands—really, to give new life to thousands. Wink started Maggie’s School in the Turkana region of Kenya, one of the most remote areas of that country, and perhaps the world, because, as she puts it, “You can take a child out of the street and put them in a bed, but you really haven’t changed their life—you’ve only changed their venue. But if you take a child and educate them, you change them forever.”

 

If ever there were an example of gratitude’s power to affect the lives of others, and—grandly—the experience of the world, that’s it. Greenville happens to be a place where a notable number of people live from a posture of gratitude, as the recipients of our fourth annual Charitable Giving Awards attest. Their good works are pouring down on us, in ways seen and not. Proof that it sometimes benefits us all to stand in the rain.

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Clemson University head coach Dabo Swinney lets loose during our feature shoot for the Charitable Giving Awards. Read about his and wife Kathleen’s generous work.

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