HILLSBOROUGH, NJ - The talented vocalists behind Lend-a-Voice!, which produced a stirring patriotic video to help fill the void left earlier this year by the cancellation of Memorial Day events and parades, have shifted direction and are helping non-profit organizations hard-pressed by the COVID-19 pandemic to raise funds for their programs.
"We have been releasing sing-along fundraisers with different local organizations to help raise money for their program," explains Kelly Irwin, a junior at Hillsborough High School and co-founder of Lend-A-Voice!
The first video is a Moana themed sing-along and raised money for GiGi’s Playhouse in Hillsborough. The second and most recent sing along is for Sarah’s Fight for Hope foundation, and it was Frozen themed.
Fundraising links are included in the description of the video and are alluded to in the video as well, according to Irwin.
"We are just hoping to spread more word about the videos, so we can raise as much money for the organizations as we can especially since September is childhood cancer awareness month," Irwin said.
Here are the links to the videos:
GiGi’s Playhouse fundraiser:
Two more videos are planned for other organizations and are now in production.
It's been a busy year for the six teens, all of whom are members of the Hillsborough High School Choir.
Lend-A-Voice! started last year prior to the holiday season. The group visited nursing homes in Hillsborough performing Christmas carols, and according to Irwin, they were well-received. The plan was to continue performing at nursing homes and other venues throughout the year, but that got sidetracked by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Quarantines at the nursing homes were a problem, so the group switched gears and directed their efforts to veterans, veterans organizations, and anyone who'd like to provide an email or Facebook address of a veteran or veteran's family. Lend-A-Voice! sent their link to all those who requested it, according to Irwin.
Further information is available at: email@example.com
Featured in the Moana/GiGi’s Playhouse video are Julia Parks singing “Les Poissons”, Liam Beltle singing “Under The Sea”, and Irwin, singing “Part of Your World.”
Featured performers In the Frozen/Sarah’s Fight for Hope video are Parks singing “Lost in the Woods,” Elena Waddleton singing “For the First Time in Forever,” Beltle and Irwin, singing a duet of “Love is an Open Door,” Simren Patel singing “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”, and Sabrina Schubert singing “Let it Go.”
Information provided by the charities:
"GiGi’s Playhouse of Hillsborough opened its’ doors to the community on Jan. 11, 2015. Since that day we have welcomed over 380 families from throughout New Jersey and parts of Pennsylvania who have made us a part of their lives. As the only location in New Jersey, we have made a lifetime commitment to offer support from diagnosis through adulthood, to build confidence, and to send a global message of acceptance for all, while changing the way the world sees Down syndrome.
"GiGi’s Playhouse offers free educational and therapeutic programs to individuals with Down syndrome starting at infancy, all the way through adulthood. We are 99% volunteer run with only 1 employee and always welcome new program participants and volunteers."
Sarah’s Fight for Hope:
"There was always something special about Sarah since birth. She was charismatic, she lit up a room with her presence. She was funny! She laughed at everything, in a contagious way. I miss that so much. Sarah was kind and always went out of her way to make you feel happy. She liked to take care of others, especially kids. Sarah loved children and hoped to one day be a teacher or have a big family.
"Sarah was diagnosed on April 27, 2016 with T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) at the age of 14. "Your child has cancer", words you never want to hear as a parent. She was treated at Goryeb Children’s Hospital and The Valerie Center in Morristown, NJ.
"Sarah fought hard for 12 months. We enjoyed our “good days” every chance we could! Sarah’s battle was not easy but what life-threatening disease is easily fought. She was valiant in her battle. Brave beyond reason. She wore a smile up to the end and put others first until her last breath. She is our Hero.
"Sarah gained her wings on April 18, 2017, at the age of 15, after relapsing with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).
"This bright soul is now our inspiration to give back and help others. In her memory and to honor how she lived, we will take our grief and transform it into something positive for other pediatric cancer families. HOPE.
"Sarah’s Fight for HOPE is a pediatric and adolescent cancer 501 (c) 3 charitable organization committed to providing hope and help to children battling cancer and their families.
"We serve families who reside in New Jersey, with a child (newborn to 19) who has been diagnosed with and is actively in treatment for cancer or another life-threatening illness."