Benefit concert in Ontario a benefit for local families

Inside Becki Holte’s Boots to Roots Salon in Vale there is a Help Them to Hope “giving tree” featuring gift ideas for retirees at a local nursing home. (The Enterprise/Yadira Lopez)

The annual Help Them to Hope campaign is putting on its yearly concert, now in its 29th year, on Sunday, Dec. 1, at the Four Rivers Cultural Center. The program starts at 3 p.m.

Admission is a donation of cash or canned food to help more than 800 struggling families in Malheur, Payette and Washington counties for the holidays.

This year’s performers will include the Treasure Valley Swing Band, vocalist Obadiah Neasham from Adrian, the Walker Family from Weiser and Portland-based electronic music artist John “Skippy” Lehmkuhl.

Other performers are local pianists, cellists and French horn players along with vocalists and taiko drummers.

“It’s all volunteer work, nobody is paid,” said Fran McLean, organizer for the annual Help Them to Hope campaign, now in its 49th year.


The campaign is an effort to help families in need for the holidays, said McLean.

McLean still remembers a father who broke into tears a few years ago after receiving donated bicycles for his children.

“He said if it wasn’t for you guys my kids wouldn’t have anything for Christmas,” McLean recalled. “There a lot of stories like that out there. It’s just tight on some families.”

McLean said last year’s concert raised over $2,000 and several pickup loads of food.

The concert is not the campaign’s only fundraiser.

Inside Becki Holte’s Boots to Roots Salon in Vale, a Help Them to Hope Christmas “giving tree” bears tags with gift ideas for residents at Pioneer Place.

One tag asks for warm, soft pajamas for a woman. Another requests a men’s sweatshirt of any color.

Holte’s salon is one of two giving tree locations in Vale. Dozens of other locations are scattered across the Treasure Valley and feature tags with the age, gender and a gift for children. Anyone interested in donating a gift can simply sign up at the location and bring it unwrapped or in a gift bag by Dec. 13.

Drop boxes for toys, food and clothing are also available at dozens of locations.

The campaign delivers as far away as Jordan Valley and each year takes busloads of Christmas gifts and items to families in the region.

The donations will be picked up by volunteers and stored at a warehouse, said McLean.

The fundraiser started as an Elks Lodge effort that donated a handful of gift baskets to local families nearly five decades ago, McLean explained.

“We took it over and it just grew and grew and grew,” he added.

McLean said each year the campaign fills a warehouse full of toys, food and other items that go to needy families. Last year they donated several hundred bikes to children.

He added that the biggest issue each year is recruiting volunteers to deliver the items. Anyone interested in volunteering can call McLean at 541-709-1720.

“After the first of the month, we’re going full blast,” said McLean.

Have a news tip? Reporter Yadira Lopez: [email protected] or 541-473-3377.

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