Contributed photo                                Construction of an orphanage in Tanzania in 2013 that was helped by the Central Alberta Homeschool Choir’s annual See Amid the Winter’s Snow concerts.

Contributed photo Construction of an orphanage in Tanzania in 2013 that was helped by the Central Alberta Homeschool Choir’s annual See Amid the Winter’s Snow concerts.

Central Alberta choir’s annual Christmas concert supports Tanzania orphanage

For more than a decade, performances by the Central Alberta Homeschool Choir have supported an orphanage in Tanzania.

It started when choir director Debbie Zepick’s son returned from Mwanza, Tanzania where he had met with a local family who had started an orphanage.

“They had support, but it had been pulled out from underneath their feet,” said Zepick. “I thought can we do something to help them. We were doing these concerts and what we’ll do is put the money, through a free will offering, towards the orphanage.”

Since then, just through donations to the choir during its Christmas time See Amid The Winter’s Snow performances, the choir has raised enough money for the Tanzanian group, the Christian Life Centre, to purchase land and buildings.

Before the concerts had been a fundraiser for A Better World, a Central Alberta-based international development organization.

This year, the money won’t go towards a new building or a land purchase. Instead, it will go towards helping the orphanage with some operating costs, but also purchasing some instruments. Over the years, they’ve raised “thousands and thousands” of dollars.

“They have an old Casio piano that when you play it, you have to lift the keys before you can play it,” said Zepick.

The choir is preparing for three Christmas concerts this month in Lacombe, Ponoka and Camrose. Zepick leads two choirs, one in the Lacombe and another in Camrose. The concert brings the two groups together for a large performance.

The students, who are all home-schooled, come from Red Deer, Rocky Mountain House, Lacombe, Ponoka, Camrose, Killam, Viking and even Airdrie. They have about 200 youths participating, with about 100 in the junior choir, aged six to 11, 75 in the senior choir, aged 12 to 18, and the rest in the Rosedale Valley String Orchestra.

Zepick said the concerts have a bit of an African flavour to them, because of the Tanzania connection, but also includes some Celtic influenced music and some of her own.

The concerts run from Dec. 15 to 17. The first show is at the College Heights Church in Lacombe, 6910 University Dr., Dec. 15 at 7:30 p.m. On Dec. 16, it is in Ponoka at the First Baptist Church, 5109 57th Ave., at 7 p.m. It ends Dec. 17 in Camrose at the Jeanne and Peter Lougheed Centre, 4501 50th St., at 4 p.m. A free will offering will be taken at each venue.