If you think downtown bars are only for late nights, booze and philandering, one James Street North outfit is out to change your perception this holiday season.
"Bars often get a negative look, but we're passionate," said Lou Molinaro, one of the owners of This Ain't Hollywood on James Street North. "We have hearts. It's a karma thing."
To that end, Molinaro has helped organize "Strumming for Hope," a breakfast benefit on Monday morning in support of the Interval House of Hamilton.
Instead of a late night show, performances start at 7 a.m. — and Molinaro is hoping people will stop in before work with their kids, scarf some breakfast and enjoy local music.
Max Kerman of the Arkells is set to perform, along with Terra Lightfoot, Canadian Winter, All About Maggie, Adam Bentley of the Rest and a host of other local artists.
Interval House provides care and shelter for abused women and children so that they can escape violence. Clare Freeman, the shelter's executive director, says she's incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support from the local community for the benefit.
"I love Hamilton's ability to get involved," Freeman said. "The city bands together much better than other communities when people need help."
Interval House supports over 150 families during the holiday season, Freeman said. They're encouraging people to bring in non-perishable food items or cash donations, as it takes about $380,000 per year to keep the organization going.
And while toys and gifts for young children are great, Freeman stressed the importance of things like deoderant and gifts for pre-teens and teens as well, like gift cards.
"It's awful to think about a 12 year old who has to go back to school with nothing from Christmas," she said.
Both Mulberry Street Coffeehouse and Jack and Lois are helping out with the food, so Molinaro is encouraging people to come out and support local business — as well as people who are having a rough time this holiday season.
"It's tragic when you think about this shelter with abused women and children and that's where they're spending Christmas."
Strumming for Hope takes place at This Ain't Hollywood at 345 James Street North from 7 a.m. until 11 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 17.