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For most, Thanksgiving marks the formal kick-off of the holiday season. Between now and the end of the year, the calendar is just about full to bursting with important days, religious and secular, most of which promote, in one way or another, the spirit of giving.

Amid the Black Friday shopping frenzy and the countless deals that crowd store shelves and online shopping carts, it can be all too easy to drift toward greed. Here in the Wood River Valley, however, businesses and nonprofits provide countless opportunities to help those less fortunate.

The first post-Thanksgiving charitable event on the docket takes place on Black Friday, Nov. 29: the Sun Valley Gallery Association Giving Walk.

Several times a year, the Gallery Association hosts Gallery Walk, a free evening of art appreciation and complimentary wine during which galleries throughout Ketchum open their doors and allow art aficionados and dilettantes to come and go as they please and enjoy whatever they might have hanging on their walls.

The paintings, sculptures and photographs head to the backburner for Giving Walk, though. The main objective of this event is to raise donations—both monetary donations and nonperishable food items—for The Hunger Coalition.

The Sun Valley Gallery Association has been active in various capacities for the past three decades. It began holding the annual Giving Walk in 2016 as a way to give back to the community.

“The holidays are a time when people in the valley who face food insecurities often feel that accentuated,” said Courtney Gilbert, curator of the Sun Valley Center for the Arts, a gallery association member and nonprofit organization that sponsors its own initiatives in the community year-round, not just at Giving Walk.

 “The Hunger Coalition does great work in this valley,” Gilbert said. “Giving Walk is the Gallery Association’s opportunity to give back to the community by encouraging people who attend to bring goods or donation checks for The Hunger Coalition.”

The Giving Walk runs a little earlier than a typical Gallery Walk, lasting from 4-6 p.m. This sets it up as an ideal après-ski program. Those in town to ski the slopes of Baldy for Thanksgiving can enjoy some refreshments and art after a day of exercise and help spread the holiday cheer.

For Gilbert, art and charity should always go hand in hand.

“I’ve always been a believer in the idea that art can help people see the world differently,” she said. “All kinds of art help build empathy and compassion. They ask you to imagine someone else’s point of view, to feel another’s joy or pain, and maybe inspire you to help out.”

The Gallery Association has eight members in addition to the Sun Valley Center for the Arts. Broschofsky Gallery, Frederic Boloix Fine Art, Friesen Gallery, Gail Severn Gallery, Gilman Contemporary, Kneeland Gallery, Wood River Fine Arts and MESH Gallery will all be taking part in the Giving Walk and accepting donations to benefit The Hunger Coalition and help out those less fortunate throughout the Wood River Valley.

Learn more about The Hunger Coalition and all the hard work it does at thehungercoalition.org.

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