CBC's Christmas Sing-In smashes fundraising record for NDG Food Depot

The 35th anniversary edition of the CBC Christmas Sing-In at the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul in Montreal has helped raise more than $47,000 for the NDG Food Depot.

'It's like a Grinch-vaccine': Carollers fill Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul at 35th CBC Christmas Sing-In

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      The 35th anniversary edition of the CBC Christmas Sing-In has helped push the total amount of money raised for the NDG Food Depot past the $47,000 mark — shattering last year's total $30,517 mark with several more weeks to go in the campaign. 

      "I'm just blown away," Daniel Rotman, executive director of the organization, told Daybreak on Monday.

      "It's an incredible amount of money."

      Rotman said the funds would ensure the depot can provide those in need with access to fresh, healthy food, as well as improve its seniors and youth programs.

      The Christmas Sing-In is the main event of the CBC annual charity drive. 

      CBC Montreal will, however, be accepting donations until Jan. 4, 2016.

      A beloved tradition since 1980, each year the Sing-In presents best-loved carols in spectacular arrangements for choir, organ, brass and percussion, with an audience of 1,500 singing along.

      This year, retired Canadian tenor and CBC broadcaster Ben Heppner co-hosted the main event with CBC Montreal All in a Weekend host Sonali Karnick.

      "It was great – for the community and for music," said Heppner.

      Heppner read Canadian author Don Gillmor's seasonal children's story, The Christmas Orange. 

      The choir of the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul led the audience in classic carols, O Come, Emmanuel, The First Nowell, We Three Kings and God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen, among others.

      Soprano Aviva Fortunata sang the solo Jessy's Carol: This Christmastide, I Saw Three Ships and Gésu Bambino.

      On Friday, we raised more than $35,000 for this year's charity, the NDG Food Depot, thanks to many devoted volunteers shaking cans in the streets. 

      Numbers are updated regularly.

      People line up hours in advance

      Dedicated CBC listeners took their place in line for the Sing-In hours before the event on Sunday, hoping to score the best seats in the house.

      A total of 1,500 people were admitted to the traditional CBC Christmas Sing-In at the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul (Sherbrooke Street West at Redpath Street) and Bourgie Hall at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Sherbrooke Street West at du Musée Avenue).

      Doors opened at 2 p.m. ET, but Bob Burke, the first person in line, was there at 11:30 a.m..

      "It's my Christmas gift to myself," he said.

      Bob Burke was the first person waiting in line to enter the Sing-In. It's his tenth year attending the event. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

      It's Burke's tenth year attending the Sing-In, and he said he's thankful the weather co-operated while he waited in line. He said every year, he leaves feeling energized and ready for the Christmas season.

      "You come here once, and you have to come back," he said.

      Concert-goer Ray Hiltz was back at the Sing-In for a fourth year.

      "I look at it like it's a Grinch-vaccine," he said.

      Hiltz said waiting in line is part of the tradition, and  he always meets interesting people as they wait for the concert to begin.

      He is originally from the Maritimes, and this year he found himself standing next to strangers who grew up just down the road from him in New Brunswick.

      The Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul is filled to capacity for the 35th anniversary edition of the CBC Christmas Sing-In. (CBC/Jason Boychuk)

      The 35th anniversary edition of the CBC Christmas Sing-In has helped raise more than $44,000 for the NDG Food Depot. 1:27


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