Emily Brandt and Travis Whiteman are warming up their instruments to serenade Stirling this Friday.
The singing and guitar-playing duo is putting on their “Christmas Carols for Charity” Friday night. This is their first time holding the fundraiser in three years. People can drop off a donation of their choosing to have the pair come to their front doorstep or gather with friends and neighbours to enjoy a classical carolling performance.
“We started it in 2020 because there wasn’t much going on in the community to lift everyone’s spirits,” Brandt explained. “We thought, ‘Hey, we should bump everyone’s spirits and just go around and sing Christmas carols.”
The goal of the fundraiser is to help a local family in financial need feel supported by their community. Brandt said this year’s family had not yet been chosen and it would be up to them if they chose to stay anonymous or not. But when they were able to help a family in 2020 with a donation of roughly $1,200 just one week before Christmas, they knew they were doing something worthwhile.
“We had heard around town about a family with three children that was struggling,” she said. “They were over the moon. They chose to stay anonymous but I can tell you they were very happy.”
Brandt said this year’s spots didn’t fill up quite as quickly as they did during the pandemic, but they are almost sold out of performance spots for Friday night. Other opportunities have also arisen with the end of social distancing: local coffee shop and bakery Farm Girl Cafe is opening its doors to the carolers so anyone can come and listen between 5 and 6 p.m. before they head off to other homes.
“We’re going to kick off the night at their cafe so local people can come and stay warm and out-of-towners can hear us too. We’ll have a donation box by the door for anyone to give to.”
Brandt said they have received support from local clubs who have been invited to the cafe to help launch the carolling night: “We’ve got donations from some hockey teams and the curling club and this will give a chance for them to come and see us and drop off their donations.”
Brandt and Whiteman will also be visiting the Stirling Manor and Stirling Towers. Brandt said singing for the senior community has been a highlight of the charity venture.
“I remember there was a gentleman on Church Street,” she recalled, “It was his last Christmas and I think we all knew that but didn’t want to say it. We took a picture with him and he was just smiling ear to ear.
“We found out later on he had passed away and we took that picture and gave it to the family and said: ‘We hope he’s around us somewhere as we do this again this year.’”
The duo is still accepting donations for the night, which can be e-transfered to email@example.com, and those interested in getting one of the last performance spots available can text 613-827-3540.