Nov. 9, 2014
By Manaka Raman-Wilms
Last Thursday, the Heintzman House was full of music and generosity, at the annual Heartbeats Around the World Christmas concert in Thornhill.
As in previous years, the funds raised from ticket sales were donated to Free the Children, a youth organization that was started in Thornhill by Craig Kielburger. The evening raised more than $1,000 to help build a primary school in Rajasthan, India.
This year marked the tenth annual concert.
Back in 2005, the event started out as a simple idea to bring the community together through music. My sister and I used to knock on doors to sell tickets, and my parents would decorate and set up the hall.
My dad would leave halfway through the concert to pick up hot chocolate for the reception afterwards.
Things have come a long way in 10 years.
Now, high school students volunteer to set out chairs and also take tickets at the door. Friends bake Christmas cookies and members of a local sorority serve the refreshments. Our singers and musicians come from all over Thornhill and the GTA, as does our audience. The event has become a tradition that is run by the community and the Heintzman House is filled with co-operation and warmth.
In a decade, this concert has raised more than $10,000 for communities in Kenya, Sri Lanka, Haiti and India. The funds have always helped to build schools, and since Free the Children takes a holistic approach to development, improving education happens alongside building up the community as a whole. Schools are an essential part of creating sustainable development.
It is wonderful to see how this Christmas tradition has grown over time. There’s something very special about the way that this community comes together to celebrate music and reach out to others elsewhere in the world.