By Leon Georgiou
IT IS an annual charity concert that is quickly becoming something of a Mount Gambier tradition but what makes it so special is it was conceived and organised by a 10-year-old Mount Gambier girl.
Amelia Clark, now 15, has asked family and friends to join her on stage to perform the concert, with all proceeds raised from the event going to the Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal.
It all started when Amelia helped at the Salvation Army during its 2015 Christmas Appeal.
Seeing people within the community that were less fortunate than her, Amelia felt compelled to try and raise money for others.
“I helped out with the Salvation Army Christmas Appeal and I just wanted to raise money for people that had come in [needing] presents,” Amelia said.
The Christmas appeal passed but Amelia’s desire to help others did not. Amelia reflected, with guidance from her mum, Jacinta, on the skills she had and how she could use them to raise money for others.
Learning a musical instrument at the time and attending dance classes, Amelia decided to hold a concert with the proceeds going to the Salvation Army.
Ms Clark explained they were unable to organise the inaugural concert in time for the 2016 Red Shield Appeal, so they ran it a few months later, around Amelia’s birthday.
The birthday concert stuck, that is until this year, when it was decided to try and run the concert at the same time as the Salvation Army’s 2021 Red Shield Appeal launch.
Speaking with the Salvation Army Captain Judy Shaw, it was evident she was both proud of Amelia’s generosity but also touched by the spirit of charity exhibited by the wider community.
“For a little girl of 10 years old to want to help people is lovely, but to see this concert grow this year into something much larger is overwhelming,” Ms Shaw said.
The Salvation Army will use the donated money to fund a number of its local programs, such as its emergency services catering programs and emergency relief programs – giving funds to individuals or families in desperate need.
Now in its fifth year (the 2020 concert was cancelled due to COVID), the concert has moved into the Wehl Street Theatre, accommodating more performers and a larger audience.
And as it has grown, so to has the support from other community members.
“We’re just really grateful that the performers we’re willing to perform, because obviously, they donated their time and their skills… we can’t have a concert without our performers,” Jacinta said.
“And obviously, we had a number of people that helped back and in the side stage.
“Without the support that we had, our friends and family, [this concert] wouldn’t have been what it was.”
The 2021 concert was held on May 29, with the Salvation Army Band, Melaleuca Choir and a bunch of Amelia’s friends and family banding together.
Some sang, others played instruments, some performed dance routines solo and others in groups.
Mount Gambier businesses donated food for the concert and prizes for a silent auction.
Amelia’s parents paid for the theatre, and together, the Mount Gambier community donated $1900.
Not too bad for a 15 year old, who, seeing others in need, asked herself a simple question: what are the things I am good at and how can I use those skills to help others?