Best of Philanthropy Award winners announced by Central Carolina Community Foundation and Columbia Metropolitan Magazine

October 19, 2015

COLUMBIA, SC – Central Carolina Community Foundation, the Midlands expert in philanthropy, and Columbia Metropolitan Magazine will recognize the recipients of the 2015 Best of Philanthropy Awards on Thursday, November 5, 2015 at 701 Whaley at 6:00 p.m. The kindness of neighbors and strangers alike has been demonstrated over and over again throughout our region in the last few weeks, showing the power of philanthropy in action. The community is invited to join in the celebration of the everyday individuals, businesses and groups who have made significant contributions to our community throughout the year, demonstrating the true meaning and value of helping others.

Each year, nominations are accepted from the community and winners are chosen in four categories: individual/family, student/student group, local business and young professional. Winners are honored with a $1,000 donation made in their name to the nonprofit organization of their choice in the Foundation’s service area and are featured in the November issue of Columbia Metropolitan Magazine.

Tickets to the Best of Philanthropy Awards are $50 each and include cocktails and heavy hors d’oeuvres at 6:00 p.m. followed by the awards presentation at 7:00 p.m. To purchase tickets, visit

This year’s winners are as follows:


Individual Award: Francis Herndon

Francis Herndon has been active with the Boy Scouts for more than seventy-five years. Beginning in his youth, Herndon has served in virtually every capacity of leadership through his involvement with Boy Scouts, from Scoutmaster to President of the Indian Waters Council and a longtime board member. Currently, Herndon serves as an active member of the Endowment and Fundraising Steering Committees, spending several hours each week helping lead the annual Friends of Scouting campaign. Through his commitment and service to the Boy Scouts, Francis Herndon stands tall as a role model of true commitment and leadership to adults and youth in the Midlands.


Local Business: Lizard’s Thicket

Lizard’s Thicket is a local family owned and operated restaurant chain with 15 locations in the Midlands and Florence, S.C. In addition to serving the Midlands through their restaurants, the business has donated thousands of dollars to support a wide variety of local family and health-centered charitable organizations. The restaurant chooses different charities annually to support through their cash-register donation boxes, encouraging customers to give their extra change to local causes. Lizard’s Thicket raises their customers’ awareness of new causes and helps build community.


Student Group: Eau Claire High School

Philanthropy is a school wide commitment at Eau Claire High School. 81 percent of the school participates in community service. Each year, the school’s clubs unite together to impact various needs in the community, showing how when each person contributes a little, it can lead to a large impact. The projects occur throughout the school year and range from “Pink Outs” for breast cancer at sporting events to mentoring young children and conducing blood drives with the American Red Cross. Last school year, the school donated nearly 2,200 hours of service throughout the year, showing that these students understand the importance of giving back.


Young Professional: Stephanie DeFreese

In addition to working for Blue Cross Blue Shield and being a mother of five, Stephanie DeFreese is constantly volunteering and giving back to the community. Stephanie serves on multiple boards and spends her spare time volunteering for a wide variety of organizations, including Edventure Children’s Museum, Leadership SC, Columbia Interfaith Basketball League, St. John Neumann, the Junior League, the American Heart Association and more. Stephanie has inspired many young professional to join her in serving the community and even gets her children involved in serving as well. It has been said by many that her giving spirit is contagious.



About Central Carolina Community Foundation

Central Carolina Community Foundation is a nonprofit organization serving 11 counties in the Midlands by distributing grants and scholarships and linking the resources of donors, nonprofits and area leaders to communities in need. For more information about the Foundation, visit their website at or call 803.254.5601.