Teen-organized concert gives $1,000 to shelter

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 27, 2000

Two Natchez teens found a way to raise money for a local charity while presenting community youth with a unique Christmas gift.

Through the efforts of organizers John Killian and Ashley O’Brien, &uot;HoHo-a-GoGo&uot; – a punk rock concert held Friday at the newly-renovated city auditorium – raised more than $1,000 for the Sunshine Shelter.

The event drew more than 200 area youth and featured five bands, including Killian’s Product and Christian group Carried Not Forsaken.

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Killian and O’Brien said they chose the Sunshine Shelter, an emergency shelter for abused and neglected children, because they believe it often gets lost among the mix of local charities.

&uot;Everybody knows about the (Natchez) Children’s Home and other charities, but people don’t know anything about the Sunshine Shelter,&uot; Killian said.

That ignorance hampered the pair and other volunteers when asking businesses to sponsor the concert.

&uot;A lot of people wouldn’t donate because they had never heard of (the shelter), and they didn’t think we were legitimate,&uot; Killian said, adding that businesses are still welcome to send in their donation forms to the shelter.

O’Brien said others were suspicious of teenagers asking for money for an event and a cause with which they were unfamiliar.

But the two overcame the setbacks and planned the event in less than a month, along with the help of Adams County Christian School, JM Electronics and Walter Tipton, city tourism director.

The ACCS senior class donated more than $800, which helped cover the cost of insurance, and the $500 rent for the auditorium was paid for out of money made from ticket sales.

O’Brien said she was surprised by the turnout for the concert, which far exceeded her expectations.

&uot;Seriously, I was just hoping to make enough to pay for the building and we made twice that,&uot; she said.

She was also pleased by the diversity of the crowd, made up of teens from all local private and public schools and a large representation from Vidalia, La.

&uot;It was something for people our age to do,&uot; that didn’t involve alcohol, she said. &uot;Because there is absolutely nothing for us to do.&uot;

With only a month to plan, Killian said the event proved to be much more work than anticipated, but &uot;it was worth every minute of it. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.&uot;

And that’s just what he hopes to do. Inspired by the success of last week’s concert, Killian and O’Brien are already talking about organizing another, larger concert in the spring or early summer.

Killian said Product plans to use the concert to kickoff a summer tour.