Holiday concert raises money for a local cause

The 2007 holiday concert staged by students and faculty at P.S./M.S. 207 was just like any other year’s — except for one thing.
This year, organizers decided to charge $10 per ticket, ($5 for kids), with the proceeds going to a good cause.
The cause was the West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department’s drive for a new, $140,000 ambulance. Through various fundraisers, the Department has secured some money already, and more fundraisers loom on the horizon. But a little help from the community never hurts.
“We appreciate all the efforts of the school to help us,” said Department Chief Jonah Cohen. “The parents, the students that participated — everyone.”
The school presented Cohen with a check for $3,000.
“I had found out the proceeds were going to be donated to our Department, but I had no idea it was going to be as high as it was until we actually got the money,” said Cohen.
The idea to use this year’s performance as a chance to give back, said music teacher and concert organizer Liz Whelan, was an attempt to “instill in the kids how good it feels to give to a worthy cause.”
“Too often, we’re only thinking about ourselves this time of year,” Whelan said.
Through various programs, P.S./M.S. 207 performs community service for a number of organizations, including the Skyway Shelter, the Make-a-Wish Foundation, the American Cancer Foundation, Angels on the Bay, and troops serving in Iraq.
For the holiday season, however, the West Hamilton Beach Fire Department was a logical choice for a beneficiary, said the school’s Parent Coordinator, Nina DeBlasio.
“They’re always one of the first responders to 9-1-1 calls, and they provide field days with the local schools for the children to get up close and personal with their fire truck and ambulance,” said DeBlasio. “During this time of the year, when everyone is in the giving mood, who better to donate to?”
Performing in the concert were the 7th and 8th grade band, the 8th grade chorus, all 2nd grade students, the Sign Club, and the faculty band, comprised of school psychologist Eliot Monin on bass, custodian John Bellon on drums, music teacher Mark Kross on keyboard and guitars, and Whelan on woodwinds and keyboards.
The band accompanied the students as they sang, while the Sign Club walked up and down the aisles of the auditorium, translating the songs into sign language.
“For a lot of these students, it was their first time on stage,” said Whelan. “I don’t know how we put it together — there wasn’t enough time in the day.”
“The kids have such raw talent,” said Andrea Mercatante, the school’s Parent Association President, who said that she was impressed with the kids’ performance, but not surprised.
“Every year, we see that they have untapped talent that we don’t know about,” she said.
The parents weren’t the only ones that enjoyed themselves.
“The best part was the way the kids felt about themselves,” said Whelan. “You can’t put a price tag on seeing their smiling faces.”

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