This was written by Gary Vella, a fellow animal lover. I thought I would share it with Tucson Tails readers. It was written in December but is timeless.
“This communication admittedly has parental pride drooled all over it, so bear with me as I share a heart-warming item that took place over the holidays. This is a story about two middle-school girls helping animals.
Our daughter, Coral, who’s nearing the age of 13, has been playing violin in the Civano Strings Class for five years now and has become quite accomplished for her age. Zoe, already 13 years of age, is one of Coral’s best friends, has also been a violinist in the same class for several years, and plays quite well too.
For the past year, I’ve been encouraging Coral to perform on Fourth Avenue’s sidewalks — European term: “busking” — to see how well she’d do. As the December holidays approached, I suggested that her first venture should be done for an animal charity. As the discussion progressed, it was decided that Zoe and Coral would perform as a duet. They’ve played many songs together in their class and have performed together many times in the strings concerts in Civano.
It was also decided that the benefactor charity would be the Tucson Wildlife Center (TWC). I contacted SPEAK member Lisa Bates, who is also the Director of TWC, for permission to raise funds for their organization, and later picked up some TWC brochures to have on hand at the busking session.
On December 22nd — 6 days after Hanukkah, 4 days before Kwanzaa, 3 days before Christmas Day, the second day of Winter Solstice, and a partridge in a pear tree (Oops! I got carried away.) —, Coral and Zoe took their talents to “The Strip” (4th Ave.).
This was the first time either of them had played publicly without the accompaniment of the rest of the strings class. A violin case was left open for cash tips from passersby and a card table was set up for the TWC brochures with a couple of signs stating that “Today’s proceeds go to the Tucson Wildlife Center.”
The concert began at 1 P.M. on the sidewalk in front of The Surly Wench tavern. Lisa Bates showed up with some more brochures a half-hour into the performance because she wasn’t aware that we already had some. At 2 P.M., the tavern opened their doors so we moved the busking session across the street to the sidewalk in front of Antigone Books.
In addition to standard fiddle songs and other violin tunes, the girls also played a number of holiday songs; mostly Christmas oriented, plus a couple of Hanukkah songs. When they weren’t playing as a duet, one of them would play solo, or one would play a holiday song while the other would sing along, and sometimes they would put their instruments down and just sing holiday songs together. They kept the performance rolling for 2 hours and 20 minutes and by the time they had finished they had raised $84.86 for Tucson Wildlife Center.
Lisa had decided to stay for the entire session and she took a few moments to visit the bookstore. Amongst Antigone’s many unique gifts, there was a sizable pig hand-puppet. Lisa has successfully used similar items (i.e., owl hand-puppets) at TWC as “surrogate nursing mothers,” cutting a hole through the belly area to insert a feed bottle from the inside. However, this was the first time she had come across a pig puppet.
She took $22 of the on-site proceeds and bought the pig-puppet, explaining that she planned to dye it brown and tweak it in any way she could to resemble a javelina. That would provide an opportunity for TWC’s javelina babies to be able to nurse. How’s that for putting fresh donations into action?
The ironic and valuable side to this story is the fact that, in our culture, and being 3 days before Christmas Day, the natural assumption was that this was a Christian venture centered exclusively around that holiday. In fact, the music — including all the holiday songs — was being provided by a Jewish girl (Zoe) and a Pagan girl (Coral), who celebrate Hanukkah and the Winter Solstice respectively.
In a world unnecessarily divided by religious differences, isn’t it a welcome moment when two talented girls can ignore all the arbitrary fences between peoples and do something that benefits someone other than themselves — especially at a time of year when it’s typical for kids to be totally absorbed in “what (gifts) they’re going to get.”
I think this is a sterling example, even though on a small level, of how the world can work in harmony; and isn’t that what the holidays are all about?
Happy New Year, everyone!
In harmony (and on behalf of proud mom, Jane Parent),
Gary Vella (proud dad)”