The Gillette & Chen Music Academy in Fort Dodge has always been a place for young people to explore their interests in the performing arts.
A recital held today at Crossway Church will allow students from the area to showcase their talents with an added incentive: raising money and awareness for those in need.
Private teacher Melissa Gillette and 20 of her young performers will host a benefit for the 501(c)(3) charity “Mary’s Meals,” which provides school lunches for children in impoverished countries.
The concert is open to the public, and begins at 10:30 a.m. It will feature fiddle music and classical pieces from Gillette; her husband, Mark; and Gillette & Chen Music Academy students from around the area.
Freewill donations will be accepted at the door of the church located at 3058 10th Ave. N.
“I went to a conference in Des Moines last September, and was so impressed and motivated by a video presentation by the founder of Mary’s Meals,” Gillette said. “It really spoke to the heart of what a charity like this is supposed to do: helping school children in underdeveloped countries realize a better life.
“A lot of times, children have to work just for their families to eat. We would like to try and make a difference in our own way and help in the fight against poverty.”
Gillette approached her young musicians about transforming their spring recital into a benefit concert. The idea was met with unanimous support.
“They were very enthusiastic about it,” Gillette said. “Now it’s not just an opportunity for them to perform for their parents and family members, but it serves a greater good. There’s more meaning behind it. And it gives our kids a better sense of appreciation and perspective.”
Gillette added that the goal is to “raise enough to feed a classroom for an entire year.”
“Like everything, the more people who know about this, the better,” Gillette said. “It takes a community effort: kids and adults alike.”
Gillette admitted “it’s the first time we’ve ever tried something like this, so we’ll see how it goes.” There is an online link to donate for those who are unable to attend Saturday’s performance.
“We’re hoping we meet or even surpass our goals,” Gillette said. “We’re about halfway there so far. We would love for the public to come and listen to good music from local students while supporting a worthy cause.”
For more information or to donate, please visit https://www.marysmealsusa.org/en/fundraising/project/melissa-gillette/music-for-marys-meals-3.