Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Stars Shining Brightly

I have two photos for you today, readers, centering on the theme of celebrities. And how I saw some.

Our first photo was taken yesterday evening, as I rushed from work to class. I didn't do a very good job of rushing, however, because I unthinkingly turned down a side street along Rockefeller Center to cut cross-town.

Rockefeller Center is a speed bump on a normal day, but during the holidays? Forget about it. Tourists, tourists, and a couple more tourists make it very difficult to get through with any speed.

Yesterday the area was even more jammed than usual, owing to a crowd of people milling about to watch Rod Stewart rehearse his part for the Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Ceremony (which took place this evening).

I didn't have time to stop and listen, but I snapped a quick and blurry photo for you:

Rod Stewart and His Hair

Our second Photo of the Day comes from a Salvation Army luncheon I attended this afternoon. Kathie Lee Gifford was the emcee of the event. Here she is, about to be introduced:

Kathie Lee Gifford

Hi, Kathie Lee!

She brought her entourage with her: husband Frank Gifford and Today Show co-host Hoda Kotba sat a few tables away from us, looking on as Kathie Lee narrated the proceedings with her signature Kathie Lee style.

The event was really quite a beautiful testimony to the work of the Salvation Army. They are good folks!

One of the honorees at the luncheon was Malaak Compton-Rock (wife of Chris Rock), whose organization, The Angel Rock Project, has partnered with the Salvation Army to create a program called Journey for Change. We watched a short video about this program, which takes youth from Bushwick, Brooklyn on a service trip to a shanty town in South Africa.

Peeps, can I tell you something? And this stays between us: I nearly lost it, watching this video. Nearly broke down in heaving sobs in front of several co-workers; this video (this program!) was so moving. Convicting. Inspiring. A good work by good folks.

Another honoree at the luncheon was Andy Pettite. Apparently he is a "pitcher" for the "New York Yankees," or so they tell me. (I love New York in a big way, but the baseball section of my heart still belongs to Boston.) Anyways, despite being a member of the pinstripe-wearing evil empire, Mr. Pettite struck me as a genuine, humble, Texas-twangy, all-around good guy. One who does a lot to give back to his community.

Throughout the event, Kathie Lee kept reminding us that "to whom much is given, much will be required." This is one of the motivations for members of the Salvation Army Corps to do their many acts of service - to give back to the community out of the blessings they've been given.

Kathie Lee enjoined us to similarly support the Salvation Army's good works with our own financial resources, so they could continue to reach out to the poor and marginalized. There were mini red kettles at the center of each table, if we felt so moved to give.

"That means you, Frank Gifford," Kathie Lee stage-whispered into the microphone.

It means me, too. Have I been a faithful steward of the blessings I've been given? Can I be doing more to give back to my community?

Thanks, Salvation Army (and Kathie Lee), for the conviction and questions at a lovely luncheon. The coffee was quite good, too.

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