It’s not too soon to start thinking about Christmas — a benefit concert planned for Saturday will give local music fans good reason to get into the spirit early.
Headlined by T Graham Brown & Runaway Train, all the proceeds from the $20 tickets will go directly to buying gifts for local children through the Surry County Sheriff’s “Give a Kid a Christmas” program.
Shelton Vineyards donated the venue for the Oct. 17 show, which begins at 4 p.m. at the vineyard.
A country music singer with several top charting songs, Brown was a 2015 Grammy nominee. Guest Chelsea Sorrell was one of the 12 female finalists of the 2012 season of American Idol, and local band Dirt Road Revival also will be performing.
Sponsorship by Shelton and several other local businesses covered the administrative costs of the event so that all of the proceeds go to the Christmas fund, said Sheriff Graham Atkinson, event organizer.
Tickets can be purchased from sponsors Shelton’s Vineyards, Surry Drug, Dobson Veterinary Hospital, Marion’s Jewelry, 13 Bones, Speedy Chef in Elkin, and Foothill Ford.
Tickets can also be purchased at the Surry County Sheriff’s Office.
Mickey Wall, a Surry Central High School graduate who now lives in Greensboro, volunteered to plan the event after he saw the “Give A Kid A Christmas” in the news.
Wall had gone to high school with Atkinson.
“What he’s doing to try to help those kids is great,” said Wall. “For a little kid to wake up on Christmas morning with nothing to open up, it’s sad. Why wouldn’t you want to help out?”
Wall, a hobbyist concert promoter, called up Atkinsonn and pitched the idea of a benefit.
“I was absolutely shocked. I hadn’t heard from him for years,” Atkinson said. “I was just astounded by how quickly it all came together.”
Atkinson said “Give A Kid A Christmas” started more than 20 years ago when he was a DARE officer and noticed a child wearing the same clothes to school every day.
Teachers told him the child had worn the same clothes every day for two years.
“Some money was collected from a few teachers and a couple of local businesses,” including Walmart, Atkinson said.
They bought the child clothes and school supplies.
“The idea took off from there. How many others were that needed help?” Atkinson said. “Last year we (more than 200 volunteers) served 700 kids and provided 225 food boxes.”
They work closely with the county school system and the Salvation Army to identify which kids need help.
“This is really, truly a partnership between the schools, the sheriff’s office and the community,” he said.
While the numbers of kids helped have increased, Atkinson said they’ve been spending about $100 per kid since the beginning.
Proceeds from the concert may help increase that amount.
“We’ve never done it before so we don’t know what to expect,” Atkinson said, noting that “if people don’t enjoy this kind of music we could still use donations.”
Volunteers are welcome to help fill food boxes on Dec. 5 at 8 a.m. at Surry Central High School, and to shop on Dec. 8 at the Mount Airy Walmart on Dec. 8 at 8 a.m.
“Every year I’m more and more convinced that the good Lord has his hand in this if we just do our part,” Atkinson said.
Terri Flagg can be reached at 415-4734.