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Get a head start on holiday shopping with Evening of Giving

Are you aware of an event or project that benefits our community? Contact Anna Ferguson at 770-963-9205, ext. 1308, or anna.ferguson@gwinnettdailypost.com.

Not that you really need a reason to go shopping, but if you do, here's a kicker: It's for charity.

Generally regarded by shoppers in the know as the two best retail palaces in the state, the Mall of Georgia in Buford and Lenox Square in Buckhead are both hosting Simon Evening of Giving events tonight.

For the annual events, the malls will open for a private, exclusive, discounted shopping adventure. Funds raised through the event will be donated to local charities such as Bert's Big Adventure, Camp Twin Lakes, the Atlanta arts community and the Simon Youth Foundation.

Sure, the event is meant to give attendees a discounted head start on holiday shopping. But there's no harm in a little self indulgence, either.

"I plan to do a bit of both," said Dewayne Herbert, Simon mall marketing manager and a director for the event. "I'll probably be making my way over to Macy's. I love Macy's."

Participating in the shopping spectacle are more than 70 stores, including favored retailers such as Gap, Yankee Candle, Banana Republic, J. Crew and Ann Taylor. At both malls, the aisles will be filled with area food vendors, including Joey D's and Veni Vedi Vici, pushing samples of their signature dishes and cocktails.

"You can eat, for free, as you shop. I'm not sure what's better than that," Herbert said.

To help spark the shopping bug, the ballerinas of the Atlanta Ballet will showcase holiday trends in a fashion show at the Lenox venue.

Once off the catwalk, the Atlanta Ballet will perform excerpts from "The Nutcracker." The Theater of the Stars cast of "Annie" will also perform a musical medley, and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, classical musician Bernardine Mitchell and students from Fox Theatre's Camp Broadway are also slated to perform at the Lenox portion of event.

According to Herbert, about 70 percent of the proceeds will be donated to local charities and the arts community, and the remaining 30 percent will go to the Simon Youth Foundation. Tickets for the Mall of Georgia Evening of Giving are $10, and Lenox tickets are $35.

The event will be held from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. today at the Mall of Georgia, 3333 Buford Drive, Buford, and Lenox Square Mall, 3393 Peachtree Road, Atlanta. Tickets can be purchased at the mall's guest services center, or online at www.encore.com. For more information, visit www.simon.com.

Time again for Kroger shoppers to can hunger

It's that time of year again - area Kroger grocers will hold the annual Can Hunger Food Drive today through Dec. 31.

Customers have several options to participate. They can drop off canned goods and nonperishable foods at participating Kroger stores, or purchase $1, $5 or $7.50 virtual food drive icons at check-out. Monetary donations will also be accepted.

For more information or to find an area Kroger location, visit www.kroger.com.

Norcross co-op to hold book drive

Norcross Cooperative Ministry will hold a community book drive today through Dec. 20 at various Norcross locations, including Gwinnett Fire Station No. 4 on Spalding Drive, Peachtree Elementary School, Norcross High School and Pinckneyville Middle School. Norcross Cooperative Ministry is a faith-based, nonprofit ministry that provides emergency assistance to families in Norcross and Gwinnett. For a complete list of locations, visit www.norcrossco-op.org.

NAMAR aids local housing group

The Northeast Atlanta Metro Association of Realtors Board of Directors recently donated a three-year contribution totaling $15,000 to the Impact Group, a Duluth-based nonprofit community development organization. The grant will be used to further the range of housing services offered to help people move from homelessness to home ownership in Georgia.

Puppetry center to host shoe drive alongside holiday production

The Center for Puppetry Arts will hold a Children's Shoe Drive through Jan. 6. The shoe drive coincides with the center's holiday play, "The Shoemaker and the Elves."

Guests donating new or gently used shoes will receive half-off admission. All shoes collected in the drive will be donated to Village Atlanta, one of Atlanta Union Mission's six recovery centers. Located in south Fulton County, Village Atlanta provides recovery programs, transitional housing, child care and counseling for both women and their children. Village Atlanta is designed to help formerly homeless women become independent and self-sufficient.

For more information on the play or the drive, visit www.puppet.org.