A lot of us, in recent years, have been making a focused effort to align our minds and actions more with the spirit of the Season of Giving than the Season of Getting. There are many ways in our community to push toward that, but one of the longest-standing ones: Fannie Battle’s annual Caroling for Kids campaign, which started in 1916, and in 2014, still helps that East Nashville organization continue its mission to provide affordable and high-quality child care to at-risk children.
This year’s Caroling for Kids kicks off on December 1 and runs through Christmas Eve, and neighbors are invited to contribute in a variety of ways, from organizing a caroling group to shopping or dining with Fannie Battle Caroling Partners. The entire campaign is a fundraising effort, but by encouraging groups of neighbors to share time-honored Christmas chestnuts, it’s also a fine promoter of yuletide cheer.
Just ahead of the start of this year’s Caroling for Kids, we reached out to Fannie Battle development director Melanie Shinbaum to talk a little about what the fundraising effort entails and how we can all get involved.
The East Nashvillian: Caroling for Kids started way back in 1916, and today, carolers are still sharing classics like “Silent Night” with neighbors through the holiday season. Do you imagine Caroling for Kids was very different back then, or do you see this as a tradition that’s carried forth relatively untouched?
Melanie Shinbaum: “The tradition of families caroling for the benefit of our children here at Fannie Battle Day Home is likely much as it was when founded almost a century ago by those thoughtful and generous Fannie Battle volunteers. Our volunteer carolers, as when it started, still invest their precious holiday time with us for the very same reasons: helping children and families who need it.
“Nashville is such a caring and generous community, and because of that kind-hearted spirit, we are able to continue to fulfill our mission of helping working families. Today's carolers really like the old-time tradition of caroling since it has become somewhat of a lost holiday custom — and what better way to bring some holiday tradition to your season's festivities than by also supporting one of East Nashville's longest nonprofit organizations?”
Caroling isn’t the only way neighbors can help Fannie Battle — can you tell us a little more about other options, like hosting a “Party With a Purpose” or virtual fundraiser?
“While the tradition of Fannie Battle Caroling for Kids revolves around volunteers caroling door to door, we know that might not fit with everyone's holiday plans or interests (or vocal abilities). Therefore, you can host a ‘Party with a Purpose’ by simply turning your regular holiday party into a benefit for Caroling for Kids — just ask your guests to bring a donation for Fannie Battle Day Home instead of bringing a traditional ‘hostess gift.’
“Offering a virtual fundraiser is something we started last year by creating a Crowdrise.com caroling fundraising page. All you have to do is join our Fannie Battle Caroling for Kids ‘team’ and share via social media or email with your friends, family and coworkers by asking them to make a gift towards our work with at-risk children — super easy and has turned into a very successful effort for us. People love the ease of online crowdfunded efforts, and as a nonprofit, we know it's a great way to help get the word out about what we are doing over here on Chapel Avenue daily with some of the most amazing children you'll ever meet.”
Do you find that year to year, East Nashville in particular plays a big role in Caroling for Kids efforts?
“Absolutely. The overwhelming support of our programs by East Nashville is something we are so appreciative of both during Caroling for Kids, but also year-round through other efforts such as Yum!East (which will be on June 4 this year, by the way).
“The East Nashville MOMS Group is just one of our many awesome East Nashville groups — they are even working to combine their group's efforts with a local scout group so they can increase the impact of their efforts. We are also excited to have some companies who are sending out caroling groups of their employees as an easy volunteer and team-building opportunity.
“Another way to help is by grabbing a tasty meal over at The Wild Cow on Thursday, Dec. 4. For the second year, they have made Fannie Battle Caroling for Kids their December Charity of the Month, and 10 percent of all sales that day will be generously donated to our work.”
By taking part and caroling (or participating in another way), what kinds of things are we helping Fannie Battle do?
“So very much that makes a monumental impact in the lives of appreciative children and families: preparing children to start school ready for success; offering enrichment opportunities such as art and outdoor day camp; providing physical fitness programming to teach healthy fitness habits; serving literally thousands of meals and snacks throughout the year, both to children and families; offering year-round tutoring to all 68 school-age children we serve. These are just a handful of the things happening on a daily basis with the 120 children we serve. Feel free to join us for a tour any time as we love to share our center with our great neighbors.”
Caroling for Kids starts on December 1 — do we need to organize our efforts by then, or can we jump in throughout the month (before December 24)?
“You can join in at any time! While some groups have been planning for a while, that's certainly not necessary. If you are interested, just send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org; we'll drop off materials right to your front door and one of our caroling volunteers can coordinate pick-up of your collected donations afterwards.”
Fannie Battle’s Caroling for Kids runs December 1 through December 24. If you’re interested in taking part, reach out to email@example.com or visit the Fannie Battle website to get more info. The Fannie Battle Day Home for Children is located at 108 Chapel Ave. in East Nashville.