As beautiful as New Albany is, the biggest reason behind its success as a community are the people who live here, their welcoming nature and their willingness to give back.

People here know their neighbors and care about their well-being, and many have special talents they share to help fill voids in our community.

We also have a flourishing business community which gives back, either through programs it creates or through the New Albany Chamber of Commerce and New Albany Community Foundation.

The chamber serves as an advocate for local businesses, organizes community and corporate events and introduces emerging leaders to many aspects of the community through its Leadership New Albany program.

Speaking of the community foundation, its Jefferson Series is one of the best lecture series in the United States and just one way the foundation reinforces our pillars of lifelong education, the arts, health and the environment.

If you haven't seen the New Albany Symphony Orchestra perform at the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts, the next opportunity to do so is this weekend Saturday, Dec. 15, and Sunday, Dec. 16. The symphony has so much talent and its leaders are integrating new ways for everyone to enjoy shows, including sensory-friendly performances for those with autism, dementia or Alzheimer's. The regular show is Sunday and the sensory-friendly show is Saturday.

The New Albany-Plain Township Historical Society and the local Founders Day committee do a fantastic job preserving and celebrating our community's history, and the Founders Day parade and festival is one of the most popular events of the year.

Speaking of events, the New Albany Community Events Board does a stellar job producing the Spring Egg Hunt and Fourth of July parade and festival; the Thanks for Giving 4-Miler committee raises more than $100,000 annually through its Thanksgiving day event; and thanks to everyone involved with Pelotonia and its goal to end cancer.

New Albany City Council also relies on residents to serve on more than a dozen boards and make recommendations to us about matters that include architecture, zoning, parks and trails, planning and personnel.

As wonderful as the New Albany-Plain Local School District leadership and staff are, many volunteers assist in classrooms or in some other way to help make our school district one of the top-ranked public districts in all of Ohio. Taking a cue from what they are learning, our students are stepping up to help others and making our community and our world a better place.

Many adults lend their talents to provide opportunities for children to play sports or perform on stage. (And a special shout out to our local Little League, which this year produced two state champs and were within two games of going to the Little League World Series.)

The New Albany Women's Network supports many worthy local charities and provides two annual scholarships to New Albany High School graduates.

Healthy New Albany helps provide health and wellness programming for all age groups at the Philip Heit Center for Healthy New Albany, coordinates the biggest walking race in America, manages the food pantry, community garden and farmers market, and continually works with local-health care partners on the goal of creating the healthiest community in America.

I'm leaving out so many local organizations, from Habitat for Humanity to animal welfare, but that shouldn't take away from the differences they are making.

In this season of giving, thanks to everyone who is making our community better by making a difference in it. On behalf of City Council and city leaders, I wish you all a wonderful holiday season.

Sloan Spalding is mayor of New Albany.