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Jazz helps disaster survivors

Sometimes fundraising for disaster survivors takes a creative turn.

BY JULIE SABATIER | KANSAS CITY, Mo. | January 14, 2003


"This year, people were asking not only who was going to be in the show, but who was going to benefit."

—Dr. Bob Hill


Sometimes fundraising for disaster survivors takes a creative turn.

For the past seven years, Community Christian Church has hosted a Jazz Carolfest in Kansas City, Mo. to benefit Week of Compassion (WOC) relief initiatives in the U.S. and abroad.

Week of Compassion is a giving program administered by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

"The event has become a fixture in the holiday celebration in Kansas City," said Dr. Bob Hill, senior minister of Community Christian Church.

Hill and musician Tim Whitmer collaborated on the effort, writing their plans on the back of a business card. "We said, 'What could we do? What could we offer as a gift to Kansas City?' So we came up with the idea to do the Christmas music in a jazz idiom," said Hill.

This season's Carolfest, which took place in early December, benefited WOC's work battling the food shortage in southern Africa. Hill estimated 850 people attended the event, raising some $10,000.

Jazz is no stranger to the Christian community in Kansas City. Whitmer has led a traditional jazz worship service each August for 15 years. He has also helped to lead the jazz-infused Easter sunrise service.

The Carolfest features 20 of the top area jazz musicians, including The Scamps, whom Hill describes as, "the elder statesmen of jazz." Citing some of his favorite portions of the show, Hill said, "It is awesome to hear a smoky-voiced torch singer doing 'Ave Maria' and it's beautiful to hear a jazz harpist do a version of 'Silent Night.'"

In the past, Carolfest proceeds have gone to aid Bosnian refugees, flood survivors worldwide, people who suffer from AIDS in the U.S. and Africa, and many other causes.

"We have people who have been to every [Carolfest] and they always look forward to it," said Hill. "This year, people were asking not only who was going to be in the show, but who was going to benefit. They very much enjoyed giving to help others."


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