There’s something magical that happens when a whole community comes together to celebrate the talents of young people — and raise money and food for neighbors who are struggling. That’s what happened Saturday in Ross Township, PA (a suburb north of Pittsburgh) when the non-profit North Hills Cares staged their second annual Community of Music event. Ten student musical groups from six school districts in Pittsburgh’s northern suburbs gathered to perform at The Block Northway shopping mall, and they were amazing!
Two groups from North Allegheny High School performed: the school’s famous Golden Strolling Strings, and the Chamber Singers who sang a medley of Christmas songs with a jazz flair, directed by David Schmieck:
Behind the scenes, the event encouraged people to help their neighbors who need help, especially during the holidays. Everyone who attended was asked to fill a sleigh (below) with shelf-stable, single-serve food, like fruit cups, microwave pasta and granola bars. The food was distributed to the Backpack Initiatives at the participating schools. These programs provide bags of take-home food each weekend and over holiday breaks to students who need a little extra.
The food drive was just one of North Hills Cares’ many projects aimed at addressing needs in the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh. These challenges include food insecurity, which is defined as a lack of reliable access to enough affordable and nutritious food.
The North Hills High School ARROW mens group (above) performed at the event. These students staged a concert in the spring that raised $1000 for North Hills Cares, enabling the group to hold the area’s first-ever summer lunch program. Many families whose children rely on a healthy meal at school lose that resource over the summer, forcing parents to make difficult budget choices.
Children enjoyed face-painting, visits with Santa, and photo-ops with local team mascots, including the University of Pittsburgh Panther (below).
The Community of Music ended with the North Hills High School Jazz Band under the direction of Len Lavelle, performing Christmas favorites and jazz standards, like this one, How High the Moon:
Other performers included the Hampton High School Orchestra, Holy Cross Academy Singers, Shaler Area Elementary Band, North Hills High School Chamber Strings, Avonworth High School Chamber Choir, and recording artist Melina Bowser.
If you’d like to help North Hills Cares address issues like hunger in the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh, click here to donate or volunteer.
Don’t live in Pittsburgh? Chances are there are hungry people in your neighborhood too. Find your local food bank or food pantry and donate food, make a monetary donation, or sign up to volunteer. Or, better set up a small pantry in your neighborhood. Click here for our previous story on how to create a “Blessing Box” with simple materials and a little bit of effort. #StartSomethingGood!