Huron Carole aims to deliver peace, hope and love through online concerts

No team, no dream. That’s how singer-songwriter Tom Jackson describes the collective effort that brings the Huron Carole to life each year. And he believes everyone plays a part in the process, from those who receive assistance from the annual charity concerts to the band and crew who put the production into motion.

It’s a fully realized dream, too. Jackson has raised upward of $230 million in funds and in-kind services through his annual charity concert tour, a staple of each Christmas season since 1987. Health protocols were behind the shift to an online model this year, but the Calgary performer is no less committed to the cause: By the end of this year’s run of virtual concerts on Dec. 20, he will have hosted 40 individual events in the name of the charity.

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“When COVID-19 hit, we had a blank page, and we had to figure out what we were going to do,” Jackson said. “We’re still doing what we always do at this time of the year, but it just looks a little different.”

Social agencies and local and national food banks are the beneficiaries of his fundraising drive, and Jackson and his band will mount their campaign for Victoria audiences on Tuesday via Zoom. Funds raised during the performance benefit the Mustard Seed Street Church, which also receives support from the Times Colonist Christmas Fund. The paper’s goal this year is to raise $700,000 for local charities like the Mustard Seed Street Church and Salvation Army.

Jackson knows better than most the benefits of helping those less fortunate at this time of year. Doing so amid a global pandemic has its challenges, he added.

“The vaccine is rocket science, but what we do is not rocket science. It’s a lot of cliché words that are not so cliché right now: peace, faith, hope, compassion, empathy, and, most importantly, love. If we can deliver that to people who are at home, and bring them joy, bring them laughter, it will help them and it helps us.”

Regular admission ($15 through eventbrite.ca) to the Huron Carole broadcast includes access to the 75-minute performance, but VIP tickets ($30) include both the concert and a 20-minute virtual meet-and-greet with Jackson prior to the show.

The version of the Huron Carole for Victoria audiences will air on Zoom at 7 p.m. on Tuesday. “You can’t come to me, but I can come to you,” Jackson said.

Jackson, who will appear live at the beginning of each broadcast for VIP ticketholders, is excited at the audience the online performance affords him, as it is essentially unlimited.

“There’s the audience that would have normally attended the Huron Carole. Now, there’s 1,000 screens, and if four people sat round that one screen, that’s 4,000 people that can watch and contribute. It’s a new audience that may not have gone to the theatre, so the opportunity is larger.”

mdevlin@timescolonist.com

HOW TO DONATE

To contribute to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund, go to timescolonist.com/donate. That will take you to the Canada Helps website, which is open 24 hours a day and provides an immediate tax receipt.

Or mail a cheque, payable to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund Society, to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund, 201-655 Tyee Road, Victoria V9A 6X5.

Or use your credit card by phoning 250-995-4438 between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., Monday through Friday. Outside those hours, messages will be accepted.

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