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Fred Grant Squares drum up support for Christmas Cheer

'Christmas Cheer is all about the kids,' says Jeff Garner, the Squares’ new bass player

The Fred Grant Squares drummed up donations to Christmas Cheer on Saturday during their Rock’n’roll Matinee at the Queens Hometown Pub in downtown Barrie.

At the end of the four-hour event, $9,000 had been ‘fun-raised’ for Christmas Cheer.

A large single donation came from the Jack Garner Foundation, a cool $1,000.

“Christmas Cheer is all about the kids,” said Jeff Garner, the Squares’ new bass player, and Jack’s son. “My dad loved anything to do with youths and education and sports and definitely mental health.”

Jack Garner died in October at age 87.

“We are very lucky to have this support,” said Natasha Halikas, media co-ordinator with Christmas Cheer, as the matinee was about to begin.

To a packed house of Fred Heads at the Queens, the Fred Grant Squares played a mixture of Christmas tunes and rock songs, with Ian Ross sitting in on guitar for the scheduled afternoon show, which was also to feature a set by Lookout Nelson.

Scott Harradine of the Squares said it was the eighth time the local band played to raise funds for Christmas Cheer.

But there’s more work to do.

“We have a long way to go,” said Halikas, noting Christmas Cheer has a $250,000 goal this year but was sitting at $65,000 donated early Saturday afternoon, before the $9,000 came in. “Well have donations coming in later, but we need them to come in early. It’s really important, to purchase the items we need.”

Christmas Cheer is accepting cash donations only this year, which can be made directly through its website,, or by texting the word: CHEER to 30333, with the donation amount added to your wireless phone bill.

Christmas Cheer has anticipated that the need in 2021 will be much higher than in previous years, as the cost of living has greatly increased since the pandemic hit and with the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) now coming to an end for many.

Barrie & District Christmas Cheer depends heavily on the generosity of the community, local business owners and corporate sponsors in order to ensure that nearly 1,700 families in Barrie, Innisfil, Angus, Oro-Medonte Township and surrounding area have a Christmas.

Bob Bruton

About the Author: Bob Bruton

Bob Bruton is a full-time BarrieToday reporter who covers politics and city hall.
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