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HigherGround Hikers: Christmas Gathering

On December 3rd, 2021, the HigherGround Hikers held their Annual Gourmet Lunch and Boutique.  Members started the day by shopping for four veteran families sponsored through UWS’ Operation Christmas Blessing. The sponsorship was made possible through a generous donation made to Family Services in loving memory of Deidre Lee Painter Culbertson, an active participant of HigherGround Hikers, who passed away on October 1st.

After shopping, members arrived at the Greenville Elks Lodge #858, where Lori Wallach, Community Champion, co-founder and former Director of the group hosted the event with Virginia Barnes, current Director. A delicious lunch of shrimp cocktail, an array of salads, and delectable desserts was enjoyed by the group.  After lunch, the group chose free items from the colorful boutique. These items varied from Christmas décor to home décor, fitness items, handbags, antiques, and so much more! Items for the boutique were lightly used and or brand-new items donated by HigherGround Hikers Trail Angels and close friends/guests of the program.

Once boutique shopping was finished, it was time to wrap the presents for the children of Operation Christmas Blessings.  Lori hosted a quick demonstration on wrapping and all presents were wrapped.  There were smiles, laughter, fun and happiness experienced by all!

If you would like to participate in future HigherGround Hikers events, please contact Virginia R. Barnes at (631) 506-9669 or

HigherGround Hikers is made up of spouses of veterans, Military, First Responders and includes female veterans.  HigherGround Hikers is about a leisurely hike, history, culture, photography, friendships, and potluck lunches. It is about escaping from our daily routine once a month, for the day.  Like Lori says, “meet us at the meet-up point and we’ve got your six from there.”  Vera, a veteran spouse and loyal participant of HigherGround Hikers had this to say, “It is an afternoon where I am out with like-minded individuals with a similar experience of the military life. We are out in nature. We are away from our daily cares and circumstances allowing for a mental, emotional, and physical break.  Nature is soothing to the soul. It is uplifting!”