Local media stars lend talents to Make-A-Wish CDWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
In 2011, the first “Holiday Wishes” CD was released. With 100 percent of the proceeds going to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, local celebrities gave generously of their time and talent in an effort to raise money for a wonderful cause. Luminaries such as Pat Dailey, Crystal Bowersox, Alyson Stoner, Sheri LaFontaine and Jamie Farr all contributed.
“I am so honored and proud to be able to do positive things for my hometown,” Farr said in a 2011 interview with Toledo Free Press.
That kind of generosity — by artists and the public alike — led to an album which grossed more than $25,000 for Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. This year, another outpouring in the spirit of giving has led to the creation of “Holiday Wishes 2,” a two-disc, 44-track collection featuring an even wider array of area talent. The CD was produced by Toledo Free Press Editor in Chief Michael S. Miller.
“We all find different ways to help,” said Jerry Anderson, WTOL-11 news anchor. “The holidays, to me, are a great time of family and reflection. And to me, it always refocuses [me] on the things that are most important in my life, which to me are faith and family.”
Anderson performs a reading of the Edgar Guest poem “At Christmas” on “Holiday Wishes 2.” Though this is his first year directly contributing to the project, he helped promote the original CD with coverage on his show “Leading Edge,” and was eager to directly participate this year.
“I think it was as casual as, ‘Hey, would you be interested in doing a reading for the CD this year?’ And I was thrilled to say yes. I mean, my partner Chrys Peterson sings on the record every year, and she’s a really accomplished performer. And I certainly don’t have that kind of skill,” Anderson said.
Also skilled behind the microphone is WSPD morning host Fred LeFebvre, who lends his voice to “Holiday Wishes 2” with a reading of “The Boy Who Laughed at Santa Claus.”
“Miller got ahold of me this year and asked if I’d get involved, and I said yes right away,” LeFebvre said. “I wasn’t even sure what he was going to have me do. And then when I found out it was an Ogden Nash poem, that made it even better, because those are always a lot of fun.”
Miller said opening the project to readings expands the types of contributors he can pursue.
“In addition to serving a great cause and being a lot of fun, this annual series can serve as an archive of Toledo history,” he said. “To have tracks by legends such as Jamie Farr and Dennis Staples, and contemporary media talent like Harvey Steele, Rick and Mary Beth from The River and now Jerry and Fred, is to preserve Toledo’s culture and legacy.
“Jerry, Fred and our media participants have been incredibly gracious with their outreach and helping us spread the word about the CD, and we can’t thank them enough,” Miller said.
LeFebvre recorded his piece in the same studio from which he broadcasts daily on WSPD, though he said his performance on the CD was a deliberate attempt to present another side of himself than his regular listeners usually hear.
“I was going for not so much a dramatic reading, but more of a fun type thing. Not the radio voice that people normally hear, but there’s a little bit of personality in there that I think people will enjoy when they listen to it,” he said.
Anderson, meanwhile, recorded his piece just down the same hall —at the 101.5 The River studio at Clear Channel headquarters. His moving reading of “At Christmas” is all the more impressive given that he didn’t know the piece before getting involved with “Holiday Wishes.”
“I wasn’t familiar with ‘At Christmas,’” Anderson said. “The message in it was just so on point. There’s just something about this time of year that should bring out the best in people. Petty differences don’t matter. When you’re thinking more of others than you are of yourself, you’re less selfish and you’re more giving.”
Of course, the spirit of giving can be heard in every track of “Holiday Wishes 2,” with the money raised going toward a cause that both Anderson and LeFebvre say they were honored to support.
“What I like about this one — the Make-A-Wish, and some of the other ones that we do — is, No. 1, they’re local. I like it when the money stays here,” LeFebvre said. “I like it when the organization has a great reputation, as Make-A-Wish does. And when you know the majority of money is going for what it’s intended for, not for administrative services and things like that.
“Plus, the stories that they have to share, after they take a kid out and give them that wish — that’s just amazing. That’s what Christmas is about.”
“To me, it’s what we should be doing — like the poem says — we should be doing all year long,” Anderson said. “To do something that was just fun to do, had meaning for me, and then to be connected to this tremendous group of talented people — I’m the least of all of them — these tremendously talented people on the CD.
“And the bottom line is, there’s going to be wishes granted, there’s going to be smiles on people’s faces, there’s going to be times that the individuals and their families are going to forget about their circumstances for a while, when a wish is granted. It’s just very humbling and satisfying to think that you in some little way might be able to help somebody else.”
“Holiday Wishes 2” is available at all area Panera Bread locations and select stores at Levis Commons, including Lily’s, Second Sole, The Flying Joe and the Levis Commons management office.