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Benefit to aid the Children's Chorus

By Lori Szepelak


SOUTH HADLEY Daffodil and tulip bulbs were lovingly and carefully packaged on a recent Sunday afternoon for a fund-raiser to benefit the South Hadley Children's Chorus.

Catharine "Cathy" Melhorn, choral director, described working side-by-side with the children and their parents during the party as reminiscent of an "old-fashioned intergenerational quilting bee" during an interview with Reminder Publications.

The bulb-packing party was conducted at the home of Elise Hayden-Ferdman and Vladimir Ferdman, parents of Jonah, 12, one of the members of the chorus. Melhorn noted that 1,200 Dutch Master daffodils, 400 Red Oxford tulips and 400 Yellow Oxford tulips were placed in brown lunch bags, pre-punched with breathing holes, and labeled with planting instructions.

"This bulb sale represents our first-ever major fund-raising activity, necessary now that the chorus has grown in both membership and the scope of its activities," Melhorn said. "We're pleased that we can offer a product for sale which is both beautiful and long-lasting."

She noted that each chorus member has been given about a dozen bags to sell, and the hope is to raise $1,000 which represents one-ninth of the chorus' annual budget. The chorus depends on partial funding from the adult South Hadley Chorale, a grant from the South Hadley Cultural Council, parent fees and a few generous local "angels" and corporate patrons.

The chorus currently enrolls about 35 children ages seven to 13 from South Hadley and other area towns, some of them on partial or full scholarship according to need.

"The money raised will help to fund choir scholarships, purchase music, defray concert expenses, in short, will help to keep our songs coming," Melhorn added.

Packages of four daffodil bulbs or six tulip bulbs will be offered for $5.

For eight-year-old Tessa Sweeney who participated in the bulb-packing party, she enjoyed getting together with her chorus friends to help pack the bulbs to raise money for the chorus.

"What she most enjoyed, however, was heading out onto our street with the bulbs when we got home from the party," her mom Donna Sweeney said. "She sold out quickly to our generous neighbors. Our street is going to be in bloom next spring with beautiful tulips and daffodils."

"I think counting out and putting bulbs in the bags was the best part, those sticker labels were too tricky to line up," Mikayla Willard, 10, a second year member of the chorus, said.

"I think the best part was cutting and trimming the bags," her sibling helper Mason Willard said.

Since at press time Melhorn did not have details for a central location for area residents to purchase bulbs, she can be contacted at 548-1098 for more information, as well as Elise Hayden-Ferdman at 259-6800.

As the fall season gets underway and children settle into their weekly routine of music lessons, Melhorn couldn't be happier.

"One sibling pair said before the rehearsal that they had just come to 'try it out' and registered fully before they left, saying they had had so much fun," Melhorn said, adding, "that's music to my ears."