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December 08. 2013 7:47PM

First Congregational Church Santa Fund Christmas Concert makes season brighter

Interim Senior Pastor Rev. Carolyn H. Keilig plays in The Sabbath Bell Choir during the Santa Fund Christmas Concert at the First Congregational Church in Manchester Sunday. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)

MANCHESTER -- Yuletide spirit was reflected in song and charity Sunday afternoon, as the First Congregational Church Santa Fund Christmas Concert drew hundreds to share the music of the season and create a brighter holiday for others.

Church choirs sang, bell choirs chimed and the audience joined in traditional Christmas songs in the fundraising concert to benefit the Union Leader Santa Fund for the Salvation Army.

"It's something like this that is a really unique part of Manchester," said Capt. Herb Rader, who with his wife, Miriam, commands the Salvation Army in the city.

Following the concert, members of the audience contributed to the Santa Fund to help young people over the Christmas season.

Young people were among the performers Sunday. Amelia Cote and Bridget Thornton, students at Central and Memorial high schools in the city, sang a duet.

Abigail Curtis, a sophomore at Manchester High School Central, and Valentine Schelkin, an eighth-grader at St. Cashmir School, performed a piano duet of two movements from "The Nutcracker Suite." The two young teens have played piano for years and have performed together for the past two years. They said they weren't nervous to be performing in front of an audience of adults at the event.

"We have several extraordinary young people in our church," said Kenneth Grinnell, the First Congregational music minister. "The future is bright."


How to donate

Santa Fund donations can be made by completing the online form by clicking "Donate" below or send a check to:

c/o New Hampshire Union Leader
P.O. Box 9555
Manchester, NH 03108

You can also drop off the printed form in our newspaper and a donation in the Santa Fund box at the Union Leader, 100 William Loeb Drive in Manchester from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. We will also have a donation drop box at the Intown Manchester Holiday Market on Thursday, November 29 and every Thursday in December.

Share a holiday greeting

With your donation, the Union Leader will publish a short holiday message in the newspaper. Just write it up exactly as you would have it appear, printing clearly, and mail it along with your donation. If you prefer to donate online, follow the link on the page following the transaction to submit a Christmas message.

For more information, please contact Shannon Sullivan, Union Leader Community Relations Manager, at (603) 206-7833 or ssullivan@unionleader.com

The Union Leader Santa Fund is a community tradition that has supported the Salvation Army for more than 50 years. The Santa Fund was first established at the Post Office Fruit in Manchester after a chance 1959 meeting between the Salvation Army major and the then-editor of the Union Leader.

In its first year, the Santa Fund brought in $1,000 to support the Salvation Armys Christmas effort. Since then, the Santa Fund has raised nearly $6.8 million, thanks to the generosity of the community and local businesses. Santa Fund dollars continue to provide warm clothing, meals and toys during the holidays, as well as support Kids Caf, summer camps and other critical programs throughout the year. Last year's drive brought in over $240,000 thanks to the generosity of local businesses and residents, bringing the lifetime total to nearly $6.8 million.

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