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L.A. Beat

A Christmas Carol brings some Christmas cheer to Lethbridge Food Bank

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 The Sunrise Rotary club looks forward to bringing a little bit of Christmas cheer to  Lethbridge’s food banks, with their annual reading of  “ A Christmas Carol.”Arman Bidarian,5, is looking forward to playing Tiny Tim. Photo by Richard Amery

 The fourth annual event at Southminster United Church, Dec. 9 has not only attracted more people every year (464 in 2010) but has also raised more money for each of the food banks ($5,699 in 2010.)
“It’s an unabashed extraction of money from people‘s pockets to give it to the food bank,” drolly deadpanned Richard Tamkin, a complete contrast to Ebenezer Scrooge, who he usually dresses up as during the event. He will be the MC this year.
Several local personalities and actors dress up as the characters from the Charles Dickens penned Christmas classic, and read the story.

This year the readers include Sheila Matson, George Mann, Jordanna Kohn, Kade Hogg  and Jeff Carlson.
 There will also be a variety of live music from Bridge Brass, Con Moto Choir directed by Patti Caven, Olivia Earl, David Elniski accompanied by Eleanor Lawson, Bill Laycock, Adam Mason and David Mikuliak with Sheldon Arvay

Tamkin was inspired to bring the idea to Lethbridge after being part of the CBC sponsored reading of a Christmas Carol, which brought a lot of famous voices together to read the story.
“I thought it would be a wonderful fundraiser for the food bank, so I introduced it to Lethbridge,” Tamkin said.

 Like the original CBC version, the live event was a huge hit in Lethbridge as well, earning $3,000 in the first, year in 2008, $4,275 the next year  and $5,699  last year, with more people coming out for it each year.

 “ I enjoy watching the response from people,” said stage manager Don McInnes.
They enjoy being part of the production, which lasts about an hour-and-a half, though reading Dickens can be challenging.
“It is Dickens, so it is a different language,” Tamkin said.

“It’s interesting because we have starving urchins standing outside the  Southminster United Church,” Tamkin said.
“Well, they‘re not really starving,” Reed amended. People get a kick out of all the characters in costumes, especially Tiny Tim, who goes around asking for donations.
“That little brat  always raises three times as much as I do,” sniggered Scrooge, aka Tamkin.

 But all joking aside, the participants love helping get people into the Christmas spirit a little early with their annual production.
“It’s a great story that really gets people into the spirit. It’s the time of the year  we give money to the food banks. That’s the whole point,” said  Judi Reed, one of the organizers. She observed the proceeds are split 50 50 between both food banks, who appreciate the extra cash.
“That way they can buy exactly what they need,” Reed said.

“And if they pay in cash, they get a substantial discount. They can buy three times as many tins of beans as get donated to them,” Tamkin added.Dave Mikuliak will be playing in the band during a Christmas Carol. Photo by Richard Amery
 Tiny Tim, who is played this year by  Arman Bidarian,5, is looking forward to  saying his line “God Bless Us Everyone.”
 He remembered the story  “About the ghosts.”

“I  like speaking on stage,” he enthused, more excited about getting his picture in  “Lethbridge Magazine.”
His mom, Beth is pleased he is going to be on stage.

“I think I’ll wait until the end to bring him  so he’ll still  have a lot of energy,” she said adding her daughter Roshan is also in the production as one of the orphans.

 Dave Mikuliak, who was one of the readers last year, will be playing a more musical role this year, with  Sheldon Arvay of Lethbridge classic rock band Billie Vegas.

“We’re going to be playing some of the music off  a Christmas album he recorded,” Mikuliak said.

“He plays classical guitar. He’s not only a great player, but he also arranged all of the music too,” he continued.
“And that’s pretty incredible. Some of the music is pretty old to us because his first album came out in 2007 and the last one was 2010,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to it.”

Doors open at 7 p.m., Dec. 9, with the show starting at 7:30 p.m.. Tickets cost $10 at the door, though there will also be special guests including Tiny Tim and Scrooge himself asking for extra donations.

A version of this story appears in the December 2011 edition of Bridge Magazine
— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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