This week, staff writer Laura Rysz talks with Cheryl Y. Boga about the Empty Stocking Benefit Concert, which collects donations as admission, including toys to distribute at University of Scranton’s free Community Christmas Day breakfast.
Residence: South Abington Twp.
Professional background: Conductor and director of performance music at University of Scranton for 39 years
Q: How has the Empty Stocking Fund Benefit Concert grown over the years?
A: It seems like each year’s donations and audience enthusiasm surpasses the last. In a few recent years, our academic calendar and concert season calendar resulted in timing that has our student musicians already finished with their semester and on their way home, so we have turned to longtime friend of performance music (and now mayor of Clarks Green) Ken McGraw and his colleagues with Brass and Ivory Orchestra to make the music for this year’s event.
Q: What kind of music or specific selections can guests expect to hear?
A: The evening will include performances of a variety of holiday favorites and an audience Christmas carol sing-along.
Q: How does admission work?
A: The event is open to the public, and all who attend the concert are asked to bring a new toy, new item of children’s clothing, new toiletry items (toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, comb/brush, etc.) or a monetary donation. The collection benefits local children and families in need this holiday season, and donated items will be distributed to those in need by the university’s Center for Service and Social Justice at its Community Christmas Day Breakfast.
Q: How many years has this been a tradition?
A: This year is our 20th annual Empty Stocking Fund Benefit Concert. We “permanently borrowed” the idea (with his blessing) from the late Alan Drake, who was conductor of the Augusta Concert Band in Augusta, Georgia.
Q: Why is community support crucial to this cause?
A: This project could not have been as successful as it has been for the last two decades without the generosity of our community and its continual commitment to help those less fortunate, especially during the holiday season.
If you go
What: 20th annual Empty Stocking Fund Benefit Concert
When: Sunday, Dec. 15, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Houlihan-McLean Center at University of Scranton, 800 Linden St.
Details: The show is open to the public. Admission is a donation a of a new toy, new item of children’s clothing, new toiletry item (toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, comb/brush, etc.) or money. The collection benefits local children and families in need this holiday season.
Laura Rysz is the features copy editor and calendar editor at The Times-Tribune and runs the Talk of the Times column, which focuses on local fundraisers and other events. She also writes Chef’s Table that profiles restaurants around the region. Additionally, Laura curates events online on AccessNEPA.com. Laura is involved in the special Mother’s Day edition and curates occasional features Marry Memories and Times Travelers. She is a graduate of Haddonfield Memorial High School, New Jersey, and earned an English professional writing degree with a minor in mass communications from King’s College, Wilkes-Barre. She also earned a certificate in Social Media Marketing from Rutgers Business School. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9100 x5228.