Hillbreed benefit concert returns to Sissonville
For the 35th year, dozens of children in the area will wake up Christmas morning to unexpected, but much appreciated, treasures from Santa's musical helpers south of the North Pole in Sissonville.
The toys for needy children will be made possible by the annual Hillbreed concert held at Sissonville High School.
This year's concert by Hillbreed Toys for Kids will take place at 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24 at the school on Sissonville Drive.
As well as leading the bluegrass band Hillbreed, James Harrison of Goldtown, north of Sissonville in southern Jackson County, established the benefit concert three and a half decades ago. His motivation, he said, was to help neighbors in need during the holidays, and he, his family members, their fellow musicians, business owners and the community at large have kept the charitable community effort going annually since.
Harrison's daughter, Susan Wray of Dunbar, said her father began the yearly fundraiser "because he couldn't enjoy Christmas, thinking of all the kids out there who wouldn't have anything. At the time, there were many organizations supplying food, but not many giving toys."
Last year's concert helped provide toys for 104 underprivileged children throughout the Kanawha Valley.
"It's always been that many [children] or more," Harrison said last week. "At one time, a few years ago, we had quite a bit more than that. We bought less, but helped more kids. I try not to get into that part of it; I'm kind of soft-hearted and I don't want people to tell me the number. Mostly, I do the fundraising and let others do that."
Along with Hillbreed, the scheduled performers for Saturday's benefit concert include: George "The Earl of Elkview" Daugherty, Hogan's Goat, Brandi and Robby Good and the bluegrass band Once Blue.
Harrison said the concert has become a tradition of its own, with several of the bands and individual performers from numerous past concerts eager to be a part of it again.
"It's a family thing and a friends thing," said Harrison. "We do it around Thanksgiving when people visit at that time of year. They like to come and hear the music."
Saturday's concert will also offer hot dogs and baked goods for sale, raffles, door prizes and an auction to support the cause.
Also, Santa Claus will visit the Sissonville High auditorium to greet his harmonizing helpers and mingle with all in attendance.
Admission to the concert is free, "but we take donations," Harrison said.
Along with cash donations, "we do take in new toys - something that's not been opened, because you can't give out anything that's been opened. It's too dangerous now, with too much stuff going on out there," said Harrison.
Hillbreed Toys for Kids is a nonprofit organization.
For more information about contributing to the effort or Saturday's concert, visit the Facebook page online.