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When I was growing up, one of our family’s big Christmas traditions was presenting a “Children for Children” concert. Alongside our neighborhood friends, we played piano pieces, sang songs and recited poetry at a Christmas concert and invited all our parents to come and pay admission. Then we donated all the money we received to a cause that helps needy children. I have great memories of those concerts!

So last year, I decided my kids were old enough to start the tradition anew. I’m on the board of an organization called One Heart Bulgaria that helps needy orphans and I’ve personally visited and worked with many children in institutions in Bulgaria so my kids have been thinking of and praying for the orphans in Bulgaria for a long time. One Heart is a small organization with little overhead and donated funds go directly to helping the children in very meaningful ways. So we decided to raise money for warm winter clothing and Christmas gifts for orphans through One Heart. The kids and I worked hard to recruit friends to participate in our “First Annual Children for Children Concert.”

We made invitations and invited the kids’ parents as well as other friends and neighbors who we thought would enjoy coming to a fun and festive evening and donating to a worthy cause. The invitation explained a bit about One Heart and stated that we were inviting people to donate “admission” to the concert in the amount of their choice.

When the day arrived, we rounded up all the chairs in our house plus all the chairs we could borrow and were able to pack about 65 people into our basement. The kids and their friends presented a 30-minute program showcasing their various talents (piano pieces, dances, songs, readings, art work, even cooking – one little girl brought some treats to share). At the end of the program, we watched a video of the orphans from my last trip to Bulgaria and I told the group a little about the needs of the orphans, pointed out the donation box on the table, and we finished with refreshments.

 

After the concert, the kids were SO excited to open the donation box and find out how much money we “earned” for the orphans. We counted up hard-earned pennies and nickels that got thrown into the donation box along with lots of generous checks and bills. As our total got higher and higher, the kids eyes got wider and wider and when we got to $500 and still kept going, we were all so happy. The kids and I talked about how we probably got enough for the orphans to not only get the winter clothes that they really NEEDED but also maybe some fun things.

I’ve met these little orphans and they literally have nothing at all. They live in these horrid places with broken windows and cold and snow coming in and get so little love and care. I wish the sweet Bulgarian orphans could have seen the faces of my kids that night and felt the love as my kids rejoiced in being about to GIVE generously to those who have needs they’ve never had themselves.

As I tucked my 7-year-old into bed after the last guests left on the night of the concert, he said, “Mom, this was the best day of my whole life!  We got so much money for the orphans! They are going to be so happy!”  THAT really made the whole thing extra worthwhile for me.  We’re definitely making this concert a holiday tradition.

I have to say it was quite a process getting everything together for the concert, but it was totally worth it.  The kids who participated were so excited to do something meaningful to help other children and we were able to offer a great Christmas giving option and a festive evening to a lot of people who really enjoyed coming.  It will be much easier next year now that I’ve got it all figured out (and I have information sheets and invitations that anyone is welcome to use to quite easily create their own event).

There’s nothing like seeing your children’s faces light up with the joy of giving!

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