By Lauren Hollon
GRAPEVINE, Texas – Twenty-six students from kindergarten through 12th grade spent their Christmas break serenading shoppers with violins, violas and guitars during a fundraiser for Shoes for Orphan Souls.
Karen Smith, teacher at Music Starz Studio, organized nine days of musical performances at Grapevine Mills Mall to benefit Buckner International’s largest humanitarian aid project.
“Our goal for this year was $4,000, and we raised $4,300.11.” Smith said. “We hope next year to raise $6,000.”
Smith and her husband had participated in shoe drives before. She said her ability to give alone was limited, and she believed more could be accomplished through a combined effort.
“I knew some of my students’ schools require them to do volunteer hours—some of them had come and asked me to help them find volunteer work,” she said. “I wanted to find an opportunity in which they could utilize their talents.”
Sarah Song, a 15-year-old violin student from Flower Mound, gave up part of her holiday to raise money.
“It was a lot of fun,” Song said. “I played with a group of other high school students, and I think a lot of people didn’t expect to see high school kids spending their weekends playing music at the mall.”
Staff at Grapevine Mills Mall told the studio the fundraiser was “a treat” and said shoppers really enjoyed it.
“People would gather around us and listen for a couple of songs,” Song said. “Even the people who didn’t stop to listen would donate money as they walked by.”
The fundraiser affected the students, too. Marlene Rowan said her 15-year-old daughter, Alexa, was eager to give her time as well as her Christmas gifts.
“She was very excited about the opportunity when I got the e-mail from Mrs. Smith,” Rowan said. “She really thought it was neat that she could play her music, which she enjoys so much, for a good cause.
“She was hard to shop for this year, because when I asked what she wanted for Christmas, she told me, ‘Just give what you planned to spend on me to charity. Getting to do this brought out something in her that I didn’t know was there.”
The group has already been invited back for the 2011 holiday season, said Rachel Garton, director of Shoes for Orphan Souls.
“We’ve never had music groups play to raise money before,” Garton said. “It went really, really well. They were impressed, and it really spawned new ideas for raising shoes and raising funds.”
To learn more about the ways you can support Shoes for Orphan Souls, call 1-866-774-SHOE.
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