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For the last several weeks, we’ve been teasing the content of this year’s A to Z Issue, a celebration of people and businesses who have been successfully riding the turbulent waves of change and offering service and hope to the community at large. The print edition is now arriving in local mailboxes, but if you can’t wait for the hard copy, here’s the digital version — and meanwhile, welcome to the letter “V”:

Anyone who reads dRTB regularly knows how often we feature stories and pictures of volunteers — never moreso than during the last few months, when our People & Parties section morphed into People Helping People. But the thread tying them together, whether we’re talking about a dressed-up gala or a drive-by food bank, is love. Volunteering is widely acknowledged to be a boon to one’s physical and emotional health, too, a tonic against stress and depression. So, in honor of all those loving, healthy folks who have made the time to help others this year, here’s a roll call of some of the volunteers whose efforts we’ve covered in the last several months: the busy elves behind the scenes at The Arc Tampa Bay Foundation’s Festival of Trees; the elegant crew whose Wine, Women & Shoes event raised hundreds of thousands for the Children’s Cancer Center; the inspired organizers of the Heart Gallery’s Be Mine Gala and the Clearwater Free Clinic’s Martinis + Matisse; the Rays, Bucs and Lightning players who gave of their time to help raise funds for the causes they support: the many companies whose employees pitched in to help with food drives for the St. Petersburg Free Clinic and Feeding Tampa Bay; and the armies of maskmakers who kept us protected, from Hyde Park United Methodist Church in Tampa to Irmi’s Alterations in Belleair Bluffs to our own Molly duPont, who jump-started Masks for Pinellas County Health Providers. Many thanks to these and all the volunteers putting heart and soul into their communities at a time when selflessness is more important than ever. 

Next: W is for Watercraft: It’s boom time for boats

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