Stevenson musicians perform at nursing homes, fundraisers as Music for Charity
They are young teenagers from Stevenson High School and its surrounding middle schools, but this much they know: the impact of playing music during the holidays continues to grow.
As a group, they call themselves "Music for Charity." Earlier this month, they played for senior residents of HarborChase of Long Grove and for those at Springs of Vernon Hills Alzheimer's Care Center.
"The senior residents were very engaged with our music, and we could tell they had a good time," says Collin Fan of Buffalo Grove, a freshman at Stevenson who plays piano and leads the group.
Other members include Shaurya Khati on trumpet, Eric Liu on viola, Wooba Song on saxophone and Bill Zhu, who plays violin, all of Buffalo Grove; as well as Aayush Kashyap of Long Grove on saxophone; Enoch Jung of Lincolnshire on oboe; and Catherine Ji of Wilmette on violin.
This enterprising group of musicians date their newfound mission back to July, when they played their first gig at the Village Tavern in Long Grove as part of a fundraiser for Feed My Starving Children.
Officials from the nonprofit organization attended the event in Long Grove and invited the teens to play for its Hope-Filled Holiday event earlier this month at the Schaumburg Convention Center.
Sarah Pressly, former development adviser for Feed My Starving Children in Libertyville, described being moved by seeing children doing what they could -- make music -- to help feed other children.
"They clearly enjoy their music," Pressly said, "and the fact that their work saves kids just like them around the world, kids who may now have a chance to make their own music, well, it's really a privilegeáto know them.
"Their parents are amazing too," she added, "supporting these kids and driving them to the various locations where they play. I am so grateful for their compassionate hearts and their love."
The three-day, mobile-packing event drew nearly 6,000 volunteers and produced more than 1 million meal packets for children in Third World countries. Fan and his fellow musicians believe this was the first time Feed My Starving Children had invited musicians to perform live music for the holiday packing.
"We were excited about the opportunity to make people's volunteering experience fun and enjoyable and, at the same time, help FMSC to do fundraisers," Fan says.
"Our performance was aimed to inspire people to not only be more motivated and in a more cheerful mood, but to also donate money to FMSC, which would ultimately allow the organization to provide meals for even more children."
The students were so encouraged by the response that they started contacting local senior centers to see if they were interested in having live music.
"We wanted to bring more holiday cheer to people," Fan says. "We contacted local retirement homes, and quite a few places were excited to have us."
HarborChase of Long Grove and Springs of Vernon Hills were the first to respond, and the group played at each on successive days, but they plan to do more.
"We aim to recruit more of our old and new friends," Fan says, "to grow and have a larger impact on the world and our community."