Piano teacher Anne Arksey of Midhurst wanted to teach her students that music can make the world a better place.
The retired school principal came up with an idea to raise funds for Barrie Out of the Cold and give her students a good reason to practice.
Arksey decided to launch a voluntary practice-a-thon and 28 students ranging in age from 3 to 15 jumped at the chance.
"I got this brain wave just before Christmas. Here in Barrie it was so cold. It was like minus 30 for a week and so I thought those poor people. Communities should really be helping them," Arksey said. "Students thought it was a great idea and so did the parents."
Barrie Out of the Cold provides accommodation and meals from November through April to people experiencing homelessness. Emergency shelters operate out of five churches who donate space and access to kitchens and are run by more than 1,000 volunteers.
The practice-a-thon went from Jan. 9 to 31. Students were given a calendar to mark down how many minutes they tickled the ivories each day. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, parents, neighbours - people they knew - were sponsors who either gave a flat donation or paid students for every minute they practiced.
"It was a win/win situation since the students were excited to practice more after Christmas to help others less fortunate," said Arksey. "It makes them understand that they can help others through their music. You don't have to be a highly educated performer to help others through music."
Arksey had a long career in the Simcoe County District School Board teaching and as a school principal before retiring 8 years ago. Her career as a piano teacher has come full circle. In university, she taught music to pay her tuition and now does it for the love of piano and to keep her hand in education.
Her passion and the compassion of her students allowed her to present a $723 donation to Barrie Out of the Cold.
"I'm very, very proud of my students for getting involved in this project and recognizing that their music can help others," she said.
For more information, to donate or volunteer visit Barrie Out of the Cold - Protecting Barrie's homeless from the cold.