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December Jefferson Award Winner: JoAnn Turnquist

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COLUMBIA (WACH)-JoAnn Turnquist lives by the motto says philanthropy has been a part of her since childhood.

"I grew up in a family that believed in giving back and I believe its part of most of our DNA," said Turnquist.

For the past eight year she's served as the President and CEO of the Central Carolina Community Foundation, working to help people, families, businesses and charitable organizations in the midlands.

"If I can pay it forward, if I can pay it back, if I can bring joy to someone, that enhances and enriches my life."

One of the efforts lead by Turnquist has raised more than $4 million for local non profits, "Midlands Gives is a very big event because its brings an entire community together."

For 24 hours, Turnquist and her team work around the clock bringing in funds and support for people who need it most.

She also recalls another project, that's sure to have a lasting impact, "one of the most fun projects I participated in was going to build a bear with my entire team, building bears and helping Helen [Helen's Hugs] deliver them to the children's hospital."

Turnquist added, "things don't have to be big and audacious like Midlands Gives, in order to give a person joy."

The President and CEO says she hopes her work and legacy helps change the face of philanthropy.

"When someone is asked oh are you and they don't look Oprah Winfrey or they don't look like Bill Gates, they go 'oh yeah! Of course I'm a philanthropist' because they know they give to their church or they volunteer at a school or they give $20 to an organization that helps lift them up. They help a neighbor. They take food to a new neighbor. They reach out to others when they know that they need something or just a helping hand or a shoulder."

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