Local musicians to raise funds for charity at Dec. 11 Christmas concert

Staff Report

Jim Waddell and members of local Christian rock band Epiphany will come together Sunday, Dec. 11, for their 16th annual Christmas concert.

The free concert begins at 3 p.m. at Grace United Methodist Church, 3555 McFarland Road, Rockford.

Waddell, Epiphany and their children will perform contemporary and traditional versions of several Christmas favorites, both sacred and secular, and an original holiday song titled “If I Were Born on Christmas.” Special guests include Stephanie Waddell and Amy Schultz.

A free-will donation will be taken with all proceeds going to MAPS of Illinois, an organization that provides new socks, underwear, T-shirts and bras to Rockford-area children ages 3 to 18 who otherwise would go without.

Christmas has always been a special time for me — a time for family, and a time for sharing and giving back — and that is really what this concert is all about,” Waddell said. “It provides a vehicle to spend time with ‘family’ — our friends from Epiphany and their families — and to do something we truly enjoy while benefiting the local community.

People should come to share in a spirit of fellowship, to enjoy just a couple hours in celebration of the season,” he added. “We have a lot of fun putting on this concert, and the people who come have fun being a part of it. It is great for families, and a nice respite in the middle of the Advent season.”

Beyond the fun, however, the concert serves an important purpose: raising money for charity. Recent recipients have included Gigi’s Playhouse and Maya’s House.

Incorporated in 1994, MAPS was launched in the home of LeeAnn Mowbry and her daughter, who now lives in Washington state. Since their first distribution in April 2005, more than 152,000 items have been given to children in need.

MAPS estimates that more than 4,500 Rockford-area children go to school each day without basic undergarments. Distribution, made quarterly, has gone to the Rockford and Machesney Park Harlem school districts, Crusader Community Health, Head Start, Remedies (formerly PHASE/WAVE), Blackhawk School Linked Clinic, Children’s Closet, Rock House Kids, the Salvation Army and more.

We chose to help MAPS this year because we like to focus on helping children,” Waddell said.

As our community has struggled over the last several years with a down economy, the need for the services MAPS provides has increased. At a time when parents are facing financial difficulties in providing clothing, food and shelter, underwear is not a priority,” he added.

There are no paid people on the MAPS board or connected with the running of MAPS,” Waddell added. “It is a purely volunteer organization, so most of the money that we raise we can go directly back into purchasing underwear for the children. They distribute only new items because it is felt that this is an issue of dignity for the children.”

For more information, visit http://www.mapsofillinois.org.

Waddell, who has organized his annual Christmas concert since 1995, was honored in 2009 as one of the Rockford Area Chamber of Commerce’s “40 Leaders Under 40.” Epiphany is the winner of the last three Rockford Area Music Industry (RAMI) awards for contemporary Christian music.

For more information, contact Waddell at jhwaddell2@comcast.net.

From the Dec. 7-13, 2011, issue

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