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In mid-December, we launched our first-ever CultureMap San Antonio Charity Challenge in order to shine a light on our city’s much-needed nonprofits. Highlighting six local organizations and their impact on San Antonio, we released a series of mini-profiles to help you, our readers, decide which of them deserved to be our 2016 charity partner.

The poll has been tallied, and the organization that came out on top is Soldiers’ Angels with over 70 percent of the vote. By winning the 2016 Charity Challenge, Soldiers’ Angels will receive a CultureMap advertising package worth $10,000.

Soldiers' Angels works to support our nation’s veterans, wounded warriors, deployed service members, and their families. The nonprofit has supplied injured vets with more than 25,000 of its first-response backpacks at combat support hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Other programs, including Days for the Brave and Soldiers' Angels Adopt-a-Family, ensure the support of military families across the nation. With the help of donations, Soldiers' Angels has provided voice-controlled/adaptive laptops to more than 6,000 severely wounded service members.

Soldiers' Angels goes beyond the call of duty to give soldiers the assistance and care they deserve. We at CultureMap look forward to this Charity Challenge partnership and helping to further the nonprofit’s important work in our community.

For more information on Soldiers’ Angels and how you can get involved, visit the website.

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Photo courtesy of TeletonUSA Foundation

San Antonio-based TeletonUSA provides critical care to children who need it most

Charity Profile

Editor's note: CultureMap is committed to shining a light on San Antonio-area nonprofits and their impact on our community. So, we're launching the CultureMap San Antonio Charity Challenge, highlighting deserving local organizations — one of which will become our charity partner for 2016 based on readers' votes. To help you decide, get to know one of our six selected finalists, TeletonUSA Foundation.

When TeletonUSA Foundation was able to build its first rehabilitation center in San Antonio, the outpouring of funds and donations from Latino families was so great that its initial slogan was, "Hispanic families united to help our children."

The Children's Rehabilitation Institute TeletonUSA (CRIT) is a vibrant, colorful medical building that may feel more like a clubhouse for the children with disabilities receiving treatment there. With state-of-the-art facilities, such as a rehabilitation pool and the "Lokomat," a robot that helps teach children to walk, TeletonUSA provides cutting-edge treatment for children with neurological and musculoskeletal disorders.

TeletonUSA helps children develop coordination and balance so that they can walk. Dark rooms use light and sound to help strengthen the senses. A kitchen is available to provide a place to teach alternative ways to perform tasks around the home that many of us take for granted.

Donations from the community have helped TeletonUSA improve the lives of children for over 14 years, making critical care accessible or free to those who need it most.

Vote now for TeletonUSA — or any of the other worthy local nonprofits — in the CultureMap Charity Challenge running through December 30. A winner will be announced January 5, 2016, and will receive a CultureMap advertising package worth $10,000.

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San Antonio-based Soldiers' Angels gives back to troops with lots of love

Charity Profile

Editor's note: CultureMap is committed to shining a light on San Antonio-area nonprofits and their impact on our community. So, we're launching the CultureMap San Antonio Charity Challenge, highlighting deserving local organizations — one of which will become our charity partner for 2016 based on readers' votes. To help you decide, get to know one of our six selected finalists, Soldiers' Angels.

The motivation behind Soldiers' Angels is simple: No soldier should go unloved. Since its start, Soldiers' Angels has worked tirelessly to support our nation’s veterans, wounded warriors, deployed service members, and their families. In addition, the nonprofit has supplied injured vets with more than 25,000 of its first-response backpacks at the combat support hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan. Soldiers' Angels goes above and beyond the call of duty to give each soldier the support and care they deserve.

Other programs, including Days for the Brave and Soldiers' Angels Adopt-a-Family, ensure the support of military families across the nation. With the help of donations, Soldiers' Angels has provided voice-controlled/adaptive laptops to more than 6,000 severely wounded service members.

Vote now for Soldiers' Angels — or any of the other worthy local nonprofits — in the CultureMap Charity Challenge running through December 30. A winner will be announced January 5, 2016, and will receive a CultureMap advertising package worth $10,000.

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San Antonio nonprofit builds musical bridges around the world

Charity Profile

Editor's note: CultureMap is committed to shining a light on San Antonio-area nonprofits and their impact on our community. So, we're launching the CultureMap San Antonio Charity Challenge, highlighting deserving local organizations — one of which will become our charity partner for 2016 based on readers' votes. To help you decide, get to know one of our six selected finalists, Musical Bridges Around the World.

The power of music is such that it can make you feel like you're traveling the globe. Musical Bridges Around the World (MBAW) works with international talent to enrich the already vibrant cultural center of San Antonio. For 16 years, MBAW has helped to define San Antonio's urban landscape with cosmopolitan events and educational outreach.

With many events free and open to the public, MBAW makes it easy for San Antonio music lovers to connect and enjoy global rhythms without ever leaving town. The International Music Festival, in its third year, will bring together talent from Russia, India, Iran, and beyond for five nights in February 2016. Sunday evenings, MBAW presents Musical Evenings at the San Fernando Cathedral, a night of diverse music offerings with an opportunity to meet the artists over dessert following the show.

MBAW looks to the future as well, with the amazing Kids to Concerts series, which reaches 50,000 children annually through interactive multicultural performances. The first of its kind in the area, the program blends core concepts from science and math curriculum with a lively musical experience that children won't soon forget.

Vote now for Musical Bridges Around the World — or any of the other worthy local nonprofits — in the CultureMap Charity Challenge running through December 30. A winner will be announced January 5, 2016, and will receive a CultureMap advertising package worth $10,000.

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San Antonio Humane Society finds forever homes for furry friends in need

Charity Profile

Editor's note: CultureMap is committed to shining a light on San Antonio-area nonprofits and their impact on our community. So, we're launching the CultureMap San Antonio Charity Challenge, highlighting deserving local organizations — one of which will become our charity partner for 2016 based on readers' votes. To help you decide, get to know one of our six selected finalists, San Antonio Humane Society.

Being man's best friend looks like a pretty easy job with warmth, love, and all the belly rubs you could hope for. But for some pets, life is no picnic. Many animals suffer abuse and injuries, while others are surrendered or abandoned to shelters. The San Antonio Humane Society (SAHS) has served the area for over 60 years. A no-kill shelter, SAHS provides medical care and shelter for furry friends until they find their forever homes.

Despite popular belief, the San Antonio Humane Society is not funded by the larger Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), so local donations and volunteer work greatly impact the day-to-day operations. Every year, SAHS is able to help more than 4,000 animals in the Bexar County area.

HSUS reports that a staggering 3 to 4 million animals die every year in shelters. The San Antonio Humane Society's mission is to improve and save the lives of animals by providing care, shelter, and community education. SAHS plans to expand with a shelter medicine hospital in the future.

SAHS helps to make sure even the animals have happy holidays and great new years. For a pick-me-up, check out their success stories.

Vote now for the San Antonio Humane Society — or any of the other worthy local nonprofits — in the CultureMap Charity Challenge running through December 30. A winner will be announced January 5, 2016, and will receive a CultureMap advertising package worth $10,000.

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The Children's Shelter/Facebook

The Children's Shelter gives San Antonio kids a safe haven and fresh start

Charity Profile

Editor's note: CultureMap is committed to shining a light on San Antonio-area nonprofits and their impact on our community. So, we're launching the CultureMap San Antonio Charity Challenge, highlighting deserving local organizations — one of which will become our charity partner for 2016 based on readers' votes. To help you decide, get to know one of our six selected finalists, The Children's Shelter.

No child should ever be subjected to abuse. The Children’s Shelter is a nationally accredited nonprofit committed to ending the cycle of abuse by saving one child at a time. Since 1901, The Children’s Shelter has served as a safe haven for child survivors of abuse, neglect, and abandonment in San Antonio and Bexar County.

The organization’s mission of restoring innocence and strengthening families rings true in every aspect of its work. The Children’s Shelter is a trauma-informed care certified organization that offers emergency shelter and residential treatment for children in crisis. Additionally, the organization helps children find permanent homes through foster care and adoption, ensuring that each child’s innocence is truly restored.

When children seek help from The Children’s Shelter, they become a part of a family of services and true commitment to a better life.

Vote now for The Children’s Shelter — or any of the other worthy local nonprofits — in the CultureMap Charity Challenge running through December 30. A winner will be announced January 5, 2016, and will receive a CultureMap advertising package worth $10,000.

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San Antonio Missions hit home run with new owners, plus more top stories

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. Here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. San Antonio's minor league baseball team scores new owners, including Texas sports legends. San Antonio's minor league baseball team is back to being locally owned — by some big names.

2. H-E-B unveils new line of merchandise for super fans, available exclusively at this store. Kerrville was chosen to launch the company's new line of H-E-B-branded merchandise, in celebration of its 117th anniversary and in honor of its first store.

3. San Antonio market continues to see prices going up and sales going down. San Antonio home sales dropped 19 percent from October 2021.

4. San Antonio Rodeo wrangles even more musical acts for star-studded 2023. Turnpike Troubadours joined the already impressive lineup for the 2023 San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo.

5. San Antonio children's theater adapts timeless children's book for the holidays. Magik Theatre celebrates The Velveteen Rabbit as a Christmas story, with inclusive special performances.

Steven Spielberg opens up personal history in The Fabelmans

Movie Review

For over 40 years, director Steven Spielberg has been delivering some of the most popular blockbuster movies of all time as well as a bevy of Oscar-quality dramas, a combination that’s unique to him. For his latest, The Fabelmans, he’s decided to go more personal than ever, telling a thinly-veiled version of his own childhood.

Sammy (played mostly by Gabriel LaBelle) is one of four children – and the only son – of Mitzi (Michelle Williams), a concert pianist, and Burt Fabelman (Paul Dano), a computer engineer. From an early age, Sammy is enthralled by the art of filmmaking, first remaking a train crash sequence from The Greatest Show on Earth, and gradually moving on to more adventurous stories.

Burt’s advancing career, which moves the family from New Jersey to Arizona to California, causes stress for various members of the family, most notably Sammy and Mitzi. Sammy must deal with anti-Semitic bullies, while Mitzi falls deeper into a mental health crisis. Sammy’s movies continually offer a respite for the family, though, giving him a creative outlet and the rest of them a chance to forget their troubles for a while.

Written by Spielberg – his first writing effort since 2001’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence – and Tony Kushner, the film is heavy on emotions but presented in a way that those feelings don’t always translate. Spielberg is no stranger to depicting fraught family situations in his long career, but in showing ones from his own family, it feels like he pulled back, not wanting the scenes to be overwrought or schmaltzy.

The result is a story that isn’t as universal as some of his other films. As the film is told from Sammy’s perspective, it’s easy to get caught up in his pursuits and various discoveries as he gets older. The mindsets of the rest of the family are less clear, even though his parents and sisters are ever-present. Mitzi’s state of mind is a concern from the start, but it’s not always treated as such by other important characters.

Just as Sammy’s movies are an escape for his family, so too are they some of the best parts of the film. Sammy figuring out the process and secrets of filmmaking is informative and often thrilling, especially if you’re a cinephile. Spielberg has been considered a master for so long that watching him revisit the days when he was learning as he went is catnip for movie lovers.

In addition to being a dead ringer for a teenage Spielberg, LaBelle is a fantastic actor. It’s no easy feat to carry a movie on your shoulders, and LaBelle makes the assignment look easy. Williams’ performance will likely be more polarizing; she employs a very mannered speech pattern that works in some situations, but not all. The film also includes memorable short appearances by Seth Rogen, Judd Hirsch, and David Lynch.

Spielberg has provided the moviegoing public with such pleasure over the years that he deserves to have a movie that’s mostly for him. The initial viewing of The Fabelmans left this critic wanting, but perhaps it will gain more traction on a second screening.

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The Fabelmans is now playing in theaters.

Photo by Merie Weismuller Wallace/Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment

Gabriel LaBelle in The Fabelmans

New self-guided tour showcases iconic Fort Worth Stockyards' many Hollywood ties

Tinseltown in Cowtown

A new self-guided tour showcasing the Fort Worth Stockyards’ many star-studded appearances in cinema throughout the years recently debuted in time for the 16th annual Lone Star Film Festival, which took place earlier this month in the Stockyards for the first time.

Called Stars of the Stockyards, the eight-stop, go-at-your-own pace walking tour guides folks to famous film sites where celebrities have stepped foot in front of Hollywood cameras. Visitors to the Stockyards can access the PDF tour map on their smart phones via QR codes (no app required) posted throughout the district, namely at hotels and tour kiosks.

"The Stockyards is a historic and celebrated destination for many reasons, but one that may be lesser known is its popularity as a filming location for some of our favorite movies and TV series," said Ethan Cartwright, VP of marketing for Stockyards Heritage Development Co.

The tour and corresponding QR codes are a permanent addition to the district, he said.

Stops on the map include the iconic White Elephant Saloon, a hotbed for Hollywood performances including several by legendary actor and martial artist Chuck Norris in the longtime TV series, Walker, Texas Ranger when the watering hole was portrayed as the fictional CD Bar. The White Elephant was also graced by country music superstar Tim McGraw and Academy Award-winning actor Billy Bob Thornton for their appearances in Paramount Plus’ hit series 1883.

Also in 1883 and featured on the tour is Hookers Grill, hidden in the less flashy West side of Exchange Ave. The burger shack transformed into a gambling den in the show called The Texas House of Liquor & Sport. It’s the only building in the Stockyards that preserved the façade constructed by 1883’s production team. During operating hours, customers can order at the outdoor burger window and dine at patio tables within the two-story structure.

Cowtown Coliseum is marked on the map for its appearances in the 1983 film Tough Enough, where actor Dennis Quaid played an amateur boxer. It’s also the home of the final rodeo scene in the 1992 movie Pure Country starring country music legend George Strait.

Billy Bob’s Texas, the Stockyards Hotel, and even unassuming historic cattle pens also make the list on the tour, along with notations for the Texas Trail of Fame, which features more than 240 bronze markers honoring contributors for preserving and perpetuating the Western way of life.

Veteran actors Sam Elliot and Robert Duvall, both stars in the megahit TV series Yellowstone, are among the most recent Texas Trail of Fame inductees.

For more information and to get started on the tour, go here.