Crowds of people carrying armloads of food donations arrived hours early on Friday for Sounds of the Season, CBC Toronto's annual holiday charity event. Some arrived at the CBC Broadcast Centre as early as 2:30 a.m. to get a seat for the special broadcast of Metro Morning, which started at 5:30.

By 9 a.m., the Broadcast Centre was packed and Sounds of the Season had already raised $198,000 and 2,500 pounds of donated food. As of  9:00 p.m., $354,000 and 5,800 pounds of food had been donated.

By Monday, December 9, the total had reached $373,823.

This year's edition of Sounds of the Season — which benefits local food banks — began with a special edition of Metro Morning hosted by Matt Galloway before a live audience from the Glenn Gould studio.

The special broadcast included live performances by Serena Ryder, Nikki Yanofsky, Walk Off The Earth and others. 

Yanofsky, who performed a well-received rendition of Let It Snow, said she was happy to be part of the event for the first time.

"It was pretty energetic for such an early crowd," she said after her performance. "My song woke them up, so I was happy about that."

Yanofsky said the event's cause spurred her to be part of Sounds of the Season.

"People kind of take things for granted and forget that we're lucky to be sitting down at a table with our family," she said. "Not everyone gets that opportunity, hopefully we're giving people that opportunity."

'We can't operate without this help'

Gail Nyberg of the Daily Bread Food Bank spoke on stage and said GTA food banks handled one million visits last year; about one third of those clients were children.

She said Daily Bread operates without government grants and relies heavily on food and money donated during the holiday season.

"We can't operate without this help," she said. "I just hope people continue to give and understand that they're helping their neighbours."

Special programming will continue all morning on CBC Radio One, including special editions of Here and Now and Big City, Small World.

On television, Friday's broadcast of CBC News Toronto with Dwight Drummond and Anne-Marie Mediwake will be produced live in the CBC Atrium starting at 5 p.m. Joining them will be Canadian astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield and high-school singing sensation the Wexford Gleeks.

There is also a silent auction, with dozens of items up for grabs with proceeds going to local food banks.