Greetings Augusta!

Can it be? With Thanksgiving upon us, it’s timely to consider what we are thankful for in life. With everything we may not have, it is important to focus on what we DO have – family, friends, faith, and community.

In our community, we have many wonderful individuals and organizations that contribute their sweat, time, and money to noble causes. One such organization is Ignite Augusta. Ignite Augusta, founded 16 years ago by Lee Frye, began with a simple yet ambitious goal of creating a ‘winter wonderland’ of lights in Garvin Park. With approximately $150,000, holiday lights were purchased, plans were made and Augusta was on its way of becoming a Christmas destination spot.

Throughout the years, dozens of volunteers, City workers, business sponsors, organizations, and even prison workers have contributed to the Winter Wonderland light displays. None, however, have been more committed than those Ignite Augusta members who have weathered chilly winter temperatures, tough budget limitations, time restraints, and low volunteer turnout and support. Two such volunteers are Sandi Williamson and Judy Miller.

This season, please take time to visit our local Winter Wonderland made possible by the efforts of a 12-member volunteer board. The recommended donation is $5, but please do not feel limited – give as much as you like! Ignite Augusta is a non-profit organization (501c3) that is dependent on donations from sponsors and those visiting the displays. Each year, a budget is created that reflects the previous year’s revenues, usually between $15,000-$20,000. With this money, repairs are made, bulbs are purchased, insurance paid, and the hopes of new displays fall somewhere on the list.

This past year, approximately 6,000 bulbs were purchased – many of which were energy-saving LED lights. Can you imagine changing out 6,000 bulbs every year? I cannot. But that is exactly what the Ignite Augusta volunteers do… every year. This year, besides the board members, only five volunteers helped preparing the displays. After years of volunteering, some board members wonder if they can continue to ‘carry on.’ In as few words as possible – Ignite Augusta needs more help.

Interestingly, when you visit the displays this year – take note of the many original pieces. Lee Miller, owner of Miller’s Five, has hand-sketched many of the displays. From his sketches, the Breakfast Lion’s Club creates the displays and sells them to Ignite Augusta. In fact, one such display is particularly remarkable. Can you picture the string of holiday lights arching over the road with a little elf plugging the lights in? If so, think of Lee Miller. He was the designer!

This holiday season, take a moment to think about what you can do to contribute to the quality of life of Augustans. Could you volunteer time to Ignite Augusta? Could you donate to their cause? Could you schedule a trip through Winter Wonderland and make a donation? (The light displays are open Thursday-Sunday from 6-10 pm beginning Thanksgiving night). Or perhaps you could tell Ignite August board members thank you for their commitment and hard work. This Thanksgiving, I have to say that I am grateful for so much – including those individuals who selflessly offer their time for the good of the community.

Happy Thanksgiving Augusta!