Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Local teen holds concert for orphanage trip


As Savannah Meares took her place behind the keyboard, a few people started trickling into the Good Cup coffee shop on the Mesa, joining the scattering of customers already inside.
As she cleared her throat, gently rested her fingers on the keys and started to sing, a steady stream of people began pouring through the doorway. By the time she started her second song, every seat in the place was filled and folks started lining up along the walls.
Even so, it may seem like a pretty basic coffee shop performance until you find out that Meares is raising money for a goodwill trip to an orphanage in Mexico. And that she’s only been playing piano for a few years. And that she is 14 years old.

“I’m pretty nervous, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be OK,” she said as she set up her equipment.
If the audience had any inkling of nervousness, she drowned it out with her lilting, unwavering voice and steady hands. With only a few prior performances under her belt, the Santa Barbara Middle School student undeniably rocked the house.
More importantly, however, Meares added to the fundraising effort she and her fellow students have been focused on for weeks, holding bake sales and appealing to the community for donations of warm clothing, sleeping bags and money.
This Sunday, the entire ninth grade class will journey to Tijuana, Mexico, to the City of Angels Orphanage.
“We’re going to hang out with the kids, plant a little garden and help them paint,” Meares said. While the school will be paying for gas and housing at the orphanage, she added, “We have to make the money to help the children.”
John Seigel-Boettner, a social studies teacher who will help chaperone the trip, said a holiday feast is planned for their arrival Sunday evening. Also in the works is a fiesta complete with a piƱata, dancing and games. During the day, activities will turn a bit more hands-on.
“We’re bringing down door handles and door knobs and lumber and plywood, and we’re going to be painting,” Seigel-Boettner said.
In addition to spending time at the orphanage, the group plans to travel to a nearby barrio to hand out food and clothing.
“We’ve been trying to do this for a long time,” Seigel-Boettner said.
With one classroom already filled with heaping piles of donated clothing and another bake sale in the works, he said they might have some issues trying to pack everything into their vans. Even so, Meares appealed for more donations.
“A lot of people have old stuff in their attic they never use, like sleeping bags and jackets,” she said, adding that donations can be dropped off at the school office at 2300 Garden St.
Seigel-Boettner said the concert, bake sales, and other fundraising efforts will instill a sense of giving in the students that he hopes will stay with them forever.
“Parents could drop them off and open their wallets, but this is coming from them,” he said, gesturing at Meares.
As the concert drew to a close, one audience member leaned over to whisper to another, “She’s amazing,” receiving a vigorous nod in return.
And in the midst of a rousing round of applause, the donation basket made its way around the room, filled to the brim.


Anonymous said...

Das Williams' comment, "Some girls...could do a lot worse." What exactly did he mean by that? In what context was it made? On its own, it seems like a strange thing to say and even stranger to actually print it. Just wondering?

Anonymous said...

One wonders why these middle school kids are going all the way to mexico to the "orphanage" when there are so many homeless and needy people right here in santa barbara. Perhaps the local homeless and poor children don't play as well in the press? Or maybe the parents of the Middle School do not want to acknowledge that poverty is right in their priviledged back yards?