A ‘duty to give back’: Hodie concert will benefit Toy Fund 

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    Members of the Amherst Regional High School Hurricane Singers perform "Storm Comin" during "In Perfect Harmony", a holiday benefit for the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund, Friday, Dec. 14, 2018, at Buckley Recital Hall. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Members of the Hampshire Young People’s Chorus will perform at a “Hodie” concert supporting the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund on Friday, Dec. 20 at 7:30 p.m.  CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/K.C. CONLAN

Staff Writer
Published: 12/13/2019 2:37:45 PM
Modified: 12/13/2019 2:37:32 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Choral singers will take to the stage for the second consecutive year to benefit the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund on Dec. 20 at St. John's Episcopal Church.

The concert will feature performances by the Hampshire Young People's Chorus and Hodie Festival Chorus, with accompaniment by organist Noah Horn, and will be led by Arianne Abela, director of the Amherst College choral program and a Smith College alumna; Wayne Abercrombie, conductor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Amherst; and Sarah Paquet, conductor of the Pioneer Valley Symphony Chorus. Admission to the concert, which begins at 7:30 p.m., will be by donation. 

Choral singer and co-producer Brit Albritton held the first Hodie concert with Deanna Jospeph, then an assistant director of choral activities at Smith College, in 2004. As a student at Smith College, Abela, one of the program’s conductors, sang in the Hodie concerts each year, which she said influenced her to pursue a career in music.

“It was these concerts that contributed to my love of music-making and eventual career in conducting,” Abela wrote to the Gazette this week. “To give to a community through music, to help others by gathering people in song, and to give voice to those who are voiceless is a power we gain through the choral art. I feel that it is my duty to give back to communities with music.”

Aside from printing, publicity and venue expenses, all donations will go to the Toy Fund. Last year, the Hodie concert raised around $1,500. In recent years, the Toy Fund has raised more than $60,000 annually, though as of Dec. 12 was down $9,000 over last year at this time, according to Pat Maleno, business manager at the Gazette. 

Hodie organizers worked with the Toy Fund in the past, benefiting the cause for several years before the shows were eventually put on hold. But when Abela joined Amherst College as its choral program director, she and Albritton felt the time was right to bring the concerts back last year, once again selecting the Toy Fund as the beneficiary. 

“It’s a great cause,” Albritton said. “It helps local children and local businesses, so it’s something we’ve been really happy to support in the past.”

Named after a former business manager at the Gazette, the Toy Fund began in 1933 to help families in need during the Depression. Today, the fund distributes vouchers worth $40 to families for each child from age 1 to 14. Eligible families must live in any Hampshire County community except Ware, in the southern Franklin County towns of Deerfield, Sunderland, Whately, Shutesbury, and Leverett, and in Holyoke in Hampden County. 

18 Degrees Family Services for Western Massachusetts at 59 Interstate Drive in West Springfield verifies families’ eligibility and the Gazette covers costs associated with the drive, freeing all donations to fund the vouchers.

The following stores are participating this year: A2Z Science and Learning Store, 57 King St., Northampton; Deals & Steals, 1 Pearl St., Northampton; JCPenney, 367 Russell St., Hadley (store only); The Toy Box, 201 N. Pleasant St., Amherst; Target, 367 Russell St. Hadley (store only); Sam’s Outdoor Outfitters, 227 Russell St., Hadley; Odyssey Bookshop, 9 College St., Village Commons, South Hadley; Wilson’s Department Store, 258 Main St., Greenfield; World Eye Bookshop & Magical Child, 134 Main St., Greenfield; Holyoke Sporting Goods Co. 1584 Dwight St. #1, Holyoke; Children's Museum at Holyoke, 444 Dwight St., Holyoke. 

Donations to the Toy Fund may be dropped off at or mailed to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, P.O. Box 299, Northampton, MA, 01061, or made through Gazettenet at www.gazettenet.com.

Checks should be made payable to the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund.

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at jvoghel@gazettenet.com.

Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

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Northampton, MA 01061


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