Keyboards at Christmas is an elegant instrumental concert held in Knoxville every year to kick off the Christmas season.
Music is played on five grand pianos, an electronic keyboard and various other instruments. In many pieces, all five pianos are played simultaneously
In past years, the concert has also featured a youth choir, a gospel quartet and other vocalists.
This concert benefits “Mission of Hope” which is a charitable organization that provides food, hygiene items, clothing, toys and school supplies for impoverished Appalachian children and their families, especially during the Christmas and Easter holidays.
In addition to providing these items, this organization also assists in helping families repair their homes or help them relocate to new homes. They provide scholarships for children in the area and helps find jobs for the unemployed.
The program has attracted the generous support of local businesses. These sponsors cover the costs associated with producing the program so that all tickets sales can be donated to Mission of Hope.
According to Donna McNeilly, the Director of Keyboards at Christmas, this group of local musicians “has been privileged” to donate over $121,000 to Mission of Hope during the last five years.
Despite all the hard work and resources required to produce the program, the effort is worth it, according to McNeilly.
“Knowing how many children have been given toys and school supplies is a tremendous blessing to us,” McNeilly said.
Mission of Hope works year-round to assist the Appalachian residents who are less fortunate by providing goods and resources, basic education, health care and home repair needs.
Mission of Hope’s mission statement and goal is: “To take Hope to the people of Appalachia through evangelical Christian charitable ministries.”
Volunteers are welcome at the Mission of Hope office in Knoxville, especially during the Back-to-School and Christmas seasons. These volunteer opportunities include administrative helpers, truck loaders, sorting and packaging, barrel pick up and many other positions.
Sidney Sherrill has volunteered with Mission of Hope for many years, and it has made a huge difference to her.
“The people there have had a big impact on my life and it has opened my eyes to the needs of people living so close to us,” Sherrill said. “My favorite part of Mission of Hope is getting to deliver Christmas toys to the kids and seeing the looks of pure joy on their sweet faces.”
In addition to these opportunities, anyone can donate toys, gloves, clothing items, hygiene products and packaged goods for families and children wherever there is a Mission of Hope blue barrel.
Mission of Hope has ministered to many different counties in Kentucky and Tennessee, as 80% of the residents living in this area are no longer able to find work in the coal mining industry.
This year, Keyboards at Christmas was held at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium on Sunday, December 1st.
Edited by Maddie Torres and Grace Goodacre
Featured image courtesy of Knoxville Coliseum