For over 17 years, the Waynesboro Choral Society was honored to host a benefit concert for the Salvation Army during the Christmas Season. This benefit concert featured a number of local musicians in addition to our group.
Together we raised approximately $7,000 to $8,000 per year.
It's music, its community, it's caring, and it’s charity. It's An Evening of Holiday Music, the annual concert to benefit the Salvation Army. Sponsored by the Waynesboro Choral Society, the event is held each year at 7 p.m. on the Sunday after the Choral Society's Christmas concert and is held at the Main Street United Methodist Church.
Featuring performances by local musicians, including the Waynesboro Choral Society and local favorite Wanda Eaves-Taylor of Wanda and the White Boys, the concert inspires giving less fortunate families the opportunity to enjoy the upcoming Christmas holiday. Some of the past and current Performers include, Valley Voices, a children's choir that is part of the Valley Music Academy; Lyrisa, a women's group from Staunton; a group from the Waynesboro High School Concert Choir; the group Blues Ride; the Waynesboro Union Male Chorus; the Faithful Men; Wanda Eaves-Taylor of Wanda and the White Boys; Jeff Walter; Buddy Thomas; and Orville Bame, just to name a few. We have even had a surprise visit from Elvis (portrayed by a local talented young man).
"Typically we have standing room only," said Don Coffey, director of the Waynesboro Choral Society. "We have people who will show up sometimes as early as 5:30; the church will just be packed. It's just a wonderful evening."
"All donations are free-will donations," Coffey added. "Some people will make the big donations, but it's people who throw out $20 or $10 that keeps it sustained."
"I was asked myself to perform in a benefit concert some years ago," Coffey said. "It was in Staunton for a local charity - they called it Christmas in October. I took a few of my friends with me and went up and performed. Literally on the way home, we stopped in McDonalds to get something to eat, and we said that we ought to be able to do something like this in Waynesboro. Within the time before the concert we pulled together with the Choral Society and friends, and that very first year passed the plate and raised about $4,000 that one evening. Every penny goes to the local Salvation Army - we have no overhead."
The money raised each year represents a significant contribution to the welfare of less fortunate families in the area, according to Major Linda Sloan, corps officer in charge of the local Salvation Army of East Augusta, Waynesboro and Stuarts Draft. While donations come in many forms over the holidays, the Salvation Army's winter programs benefit from the influx of cash from the benefit concert.
"They do a very good job for us," Sloan said. "We use cash to purchase a big part of our food for the baskets that we do, and we have to buy a lot of the toys. We don't give any child anything used. This is a great help towards purchasing all of these things."
The Salvation Army is currently in its seasonal appeal for donations, seeking funding and volunteer contributions to benefit such activites as their Christmas assistance program, which helps up to 400 families obtain food, holiday gifts for children and assistance with utility bills during the cold winter months, according to Sloan.
"The more [donations] we can get, the more services we can do," Sloan said.
"To me the music is the thrilling thing, because we've got so many people there for the right reasons," Coffey said. "Not to be paid, not for individual glory. I think it's successful because it's so much fun and everybody there has a good time."
*Sage Merritt / News Virginian