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Video update: Kelowna benefit concert raises $70,000 for Haitian relief

Monday, February 1st, 2010 | 12:00 pm

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By Kathy Michaels

Kelowna residents gave generously during the day-long concert dedicated to alleviating some of the strain in Haiti.

The Helping Hands for Haiti concert, which was organized by  Kelowna musician Greg Murphy, raked in around $35,000 of local dollars.

That amount will be matched by the federal government, which means when all is said and done, Kelowna has ensured $70,000 will go to the Canadian Red Cross’s Haitian relief effort.

“The amount really exceeded expectations… when we started we were only looking to raise $10,000,” said Murphy, adding that the concert was filled with not only an abundance of musical acts suited to varying tastes, but also touching moments as those who were impacted by the disaster came forward to say their peace or relate what they knew of the country.

Among  the most poignant moments for Murphy was when Al and Ev Hromek, the two Kelowna residents who were buried in rubble when the quake hit, spoke about their experience. Numerous others came forward with generous contributions they’d accumulated in the days leading to the event.

Some Rutland Senior Secondary students brought in a cheque for $2,000 while seniors from Hawthorn Park retirement communities brought in a cheque for $5,000. John Burke of West Kelowna explained to the crowd how he stood outside Save on Foods for Days  taking donations for the cause.

“There was a great ebb and flow of people coming through all day, and there was such great energy,” noted Murphy.

That said, the tragic reason behind the outpouring of community spirit was never far from mind.

“I think we’re all connected as human beings on this planet,” said musician John Lee Sanders, who himself lived through the San Francisco earthquake of 1989. Although he said the quake he experienced in California was nothing compared to the devastation the citizens of Haiti are living through, he wanted to use his music to help in any way he could.

“One of the reasons I became a musician was to get a voice and do positive change for the world,” said Sanders before taking to the stage of the Kelowna Community Theatre to close the show Saturday night.

“I think we have an obligation to do it as artists and writers to make the world a better place. My heroes as musicians were those that got out there and did some change for the world.”

Two million Haitians are estimated to have been affected by the quake which is believed to have killed at least 150,000.

Haiti’s need for financial help will continue, and donations will be welcomed well into the future.

-with files and photos from Chris Stanford

Video update: Kelowna benefit concert raises $70,000 for Haitian relief 5.054

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