Hope Twinkles in the Collegedale Commons

On Nov. 10, Southern’s School of Music performed a 10-hour play-a-thon in Collegedale Commons, where 130 musicians, parents and other adult friends came together to play music from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. to raise money for Grand Bahama Academy, a school destroyed by Hurricane Dorian.

The event, which began with the youngest students playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, is meant to allow both students and the community to contribute to a greater cause and come together. Throughout the 10 hours of music, over 130 people took turns playing together, accumulating well over 150 hours worth of performances.

The fundraiser collected $3,770, with one anonymous donor pledging $10 for every hour of playing time accumulated, bringing the total to over $5,250, with more donations yet to be collected. The use of Collegedale Commons was another form of contribution, providing valuable space and allowing the event to remain public. 

The Hope Twinkles play-a-thon began three years ago to raise money after Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria.

“My students wanted to do something as well. So, this was where the idea was born to get sponsors for playing…They went into the community and got sponsors from people I never would have dreamed of asking,” said Ellen Francisco, Hope Twinkles organizer and adjunct music professor.

The first group of students raised nearly $4,000  from the play-a-thon, sending the money through ADRA to fund clean water to be sent to the devastated areas. The following year, the fundraiser returned to raise money for the Redwood Academy which was destroyed by the Paradise Valley fire.

The money, raised by the musicians, went to keep the school afloat, providing for the tuition of students and payment of faculty who continue to attend despite the wreckage.

According to Francisco, the sponsors for the play-a-thon are mainly family and friends of the students, with some preferring to remain anonymous but continuing to support yearly. The event is open to the public, meaning that on-the-spot donations were also available. 

“I think that an event like this is really cool because it extends this kind of music to a wider audience, but it also brings kids, who might not even know each other, together to play,” said Erica Robinson, a music education major who participated in the event. “That’s something that’s really powerful, I think, seeing a bunch of kids come together and then also to come together for a common purpose to help kids on the other side of the world.”

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