The first-ever “Community Christmas Concert” brought out a good crowd and resulted in overflow bins of toys for the Highland County Toys for Tots program Friday night at the Southern State Community College auditorium.
The price of admission was a donated toy, and 154 toys along with 183 stocking stuffers were donated, organizers said.
The concert, organized by local Toys for Tots and Samaritan Outreach Services personnel, was a showcase for local musical and dance talent presented in a relaxed and often lighthearted program.
Acknowledging that the program was being presented with no rehearsals, emcee Wade Hamilton, director of SOS, kept the show moving with snappy banter between acts and regular video updates from Bryce Matson of Buckeye Country 105.5 on Santa Claus’ trek from the North Pole to Southern State.
Performers included the Southern State Community Band, Noreen’s School of Dance, Bob Lambert and Bronwyn Jones, First United Methodist Church Choir, First United Methodist Church Bell Choir, a trio of Amelia, Ashley and Jasmine Cumberland, Christopher Ford and Daniel Jacky, Gary Abernathy, and Hamilton performing a closing number with Sherry Barber.
As the audience filed in, bins provided in the lobby were soon filled with games, dolls, stuffed animals, action figures and other goodies that will be distributed to needy children during the holiday season.
“It went great,” said Hamilton. “The turnout was far more than I expected. Hopefully it’s something we can build year after year.”
Aside from the performers, others volunteering to contribute to the event’s success were Southern State Community College, Brian Siemers, Christopher Ford, Mechell Frost, Michelle Meddock, Rainee Angles, Single Office Stop, Tracy Abrams and Toys for Tots coordinators Todd and Becky Barnes.
Toys for Tots is a project of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. According to material provided by the organization, in 1947 Maj. Bill Hendricks – with the support of members of his Los Angeles Marine Corps Reserve unit – collected and distributed 5,000 toys to needy children. The program was so successful that in 1948 the Marine Corps adopted it and expanded it nationwide. More than 470 million toys have been distributed over the years through the program.
About 500 Highland County children were the recipients of Christmas gifts through the local Toys for Tots program last year, and organizers expect that number to rise to about 600 this year, Hamilton said recently. He said that all toys donated locally will “stay right here” and be delivered to local children.
More information can be found at www.hillsboro-oh.toysfortots.org or by calling 937-393-2220.