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Christmas Carol Sing brings in 29th year with Larry Ford

By Staff | Dec 12, 2019

A simple gathering of the community, which centers around singing Christmas carols, and collecting donations for Community Cooperative, will be held for the 29th annual year this December.

“It’s a blessing that everyone comes. The long-term benefits are there for the community, which is why we do it,” said the Rev. Dr. Paul deJong of First Presbyterian Church. “All the Christmas decorations are up. It’s a feel good experience for all the right reasons.”

The 29th annual Christmas Carol Sing, sponsored by Galloway Family of Dealerships, will be held at 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17, at First Presbyterian Church, 2438 Second Street in Downtown Fort Myers. The doors open 30 minutes prior to the event.

The 1 and 4 p.m. shows typically have a line out the door, while the 7 p.m. is typically lighter in attendance.

Although admission is free, organizers ask attendees to bring at least two cans of non-perishable food, or monetary donations, for Community Cooperative’s The Soup Kitchen.

“If people are truly hungry desperation sets in and that desperation can lead to actions that aren’t helpful for the rest of the community,” deJong said. “By simply being able to keep people from being hungry, it is a positive thing for the community.”

The annual Christmas Carol Sing is simply the community coming together to sing songs at Christmas time when traditions mean a lot to people, he said.

“We sing songs that people know and love. We have talented people from the area. The exciting thing (this year is the) first time a nationally known musician is going to be a part of it,” deJong said. “The local talent is fabulous. We have a Grammy award winner being a part of it this time.”

The concert will feature Gaither Homecoming Soloist and Grammy Award winner Larry Ford.

“We are honored that Larry Ford has agreed to perform at this year’s Christmas Carol Sing. He will sing several Christmas Carols and help lead the audience in singing carols and hymns that everyone knows and loves,” Carol Sing Founder and Organizer Sam Galloway, Jr. said in a prepared statement.

The 90-minute performance also will feature the First Presbyterian Church Choir, soloists John Goulet, Linda Digman and Beverly Cox, as well as the Spiritual Voices and other special guests.

“Santa Claus will be there for the young at heart, which hopefully includes all of us,” deJong said.

Although the music is a highlight of the event, deJong said the real purpose of gathering is to support The Soup Kitchen. He said they typically gather a couple tons of food for Community Cooperative.

“If anybody can’t provide anything, come anyway. It’s a joy to be together and give thanks,” deJong said, adding that “It’s nice to bring a tangible item. Any dry good, canned food is going to go straight to the food kitchen and given to a family in need.”

He said that monetary donations will go to Community Cooperative, which has great buying power for items needed. “Anything will be given to those in need right here in Fort Myers.”

Community Cooperative provides more than 15,000 meals each month through the nonprofit organization’s Community Cafes and Meals on Wheels programs. It distributes more than 500,000 pounds of groceries through the Mobile Food Pantries, as well as serves 6,500 individuals and families with homeless and comprehensive case management services through its Social & Education Resource Centers.

deJong said he enjoys the annual Christmas Carol Sing because, for him, it is the start of Christmas.

“Everybody leaves with a smile on their face. They come to me saying thank you, pastor for hosting this,” he said. “You are contributing to something that is worthwhile. That is a unique combination . . . having fun and giving something so beneficial to so many people in the community.”