"Hold My Hand" is the indelible pop song that catapulted to Hootie and the Blowfish to worldwide stardom. It's also the name of The Cooperative Ministry's 2009 Outstanding Community Service Award Gala.
This year's honoree is Jim "Soni" Sonefeld, Hootie's drummer. He will be recognized at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at The Columbia Marriott. Craig Melvin, a former WIS-10 broadcaster, will emcee the event, which includes a silent auction and dinner.
Sonefeld's contribution to mid-1990s pop music was great: Hootie was in many ways responsible for the demise of grunge rock. Sonefeld's presence in the community, though, has been greater.
"He has a heart for this city, and he has given back since day one," said David Kunz, executive director of The Cooperative Ministry, an organization that assists the poor.
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"It's really easy to write a check, but he really likes to get his fingers dirty."
Sonefeld is president of The Animal Mission of the Midlands, which promotes pet adoptions. Hootie has performed at the mission's annual benefit, Party Animals. The 10th-annual event in March raised more than $120,000.
Kunz said Sonefeld is donating his time to The Cooperative Ministry as well.
Any time - or money - helps these days. Like most nonprofits, The Cooperative Ministry is struggling in the sagging economy. And so are the working poor the organization helps.
The Cooperative Ministry provides folks with emergency assistance, everything from clothes to rent.
"Those people are invisible. The homeless, of course, are very visible," Kunz said. "They are one crisis away from being destitute or homeless themselves.
"We give cars away for free for people to sustain jobs," Kunz added.
Kunz said the organization is serving about 300 clients per month. That number could increase as heating costs rise.
"We have an urgent need," he said. "We desperately need the communities help to continue our services."
Soni is right person to call when you need a hand getting the message out.
IF YOU GO
WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Thursday
WHERE: The Columbia Marriott, 1200 Hampton St.
TICKETS: $45 for one, $80 per couple
INFORMATION: (803) 799-3853, ext. 119, or www.coopmin.org