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About 3,000 members join unique P.E.I. benefit concert since Sunday

Christopher Cross resident Malcolm Pitre is matching up donors and song requesters on sheets of bristle board as a means of keeping track of the progress on his Christopher Cross Requests Facebook page fundraiser.
Christopher Cross resident Malcolm Pitre is matching up donors and song requesters on sheets of bristle board as a means of keeping track of the progress on his Christopher Cross Requests Facebook page fundraiser. - Eric McCarthy

CHRISTOPHER CROSS, P.E.I. - A West Prince fundraiser is giving new meaning to the “all request show”.

A virtual benefit concert on Facebook is giving group members a snapshot of some of the homegrown musical talent in the region as well as the generosity.

Christopher Cross resident Malcolm Pitre launched a Christopher Cross Requests Facebook group last Sunday, hoping to raise some funds for an Alma, P.E.I., couple, Gary and Kim Beaton. For a donation of $5 or more, group members can nominate a singer to videotape themselves singing a song of the member’s or the singer’s choice.

“Somebody makes a request and, hopefully, the person accepts it and uploads their video on Facebook,” Pitre explained.

“People are kind of tagging people so that person sees that they have a request coming.”

The group started Sunday with about 300 members and has exploded to more than 3,000 by Thursday.

“It took off,” Pitre said. “That’s all I can say. It took off.”

The initiative has already raised more than $3,000 for the Alma couple and their 12-year-old-daughter, Jayden.

Kim Beaton is 10 months into a year-long schedule of chemotherapy treatments after being diagnosed with breast cancer last March, and her husband is struggling with Alzheimer’s disease.

Gary Beaton graduated from the resident care worker program when he was 50. He subsequently went to work at Maplewood Manor. He took sick leave from his job there in the spring of 2015 and was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s soon after. The 58-year-old is now a hospital in-patient awaiting manor placement.

“I’m overwhelmed,” Kim said of the response Pitre’s initiative has created.

“Malcolm has been very generous. He always helps out when someone is in need or someone is sick,” she said. 

She said she is also touched by the messages of support many donors are posting on the Facebook page when making song requests.

At a glance:

  • What: Christopher Cross Requests, a Facebook group to raise funds for the Beaton family of Alma
  • Group name: Christopher Cross Requests
  • Post a request for a musician to post a video performance of a song
  • It’s helpful to tag the performer
  • Make an eTransfer donation to: garybeaton8@gmail.com
  • Sit back and watch the videos

When he formed the group, Pitre was accepting the eTransfers for the donations. On Wednesday he transferred the first $2,000 to the Beatons and put out a message encouraging donors to send subsequent eTransfers directly to the Beatons at: garybeaton8@gmail.com.

“It’s a connection. The music is what draws them. People want to help, also. Add the two together… This is what’s going on, I’m thinking,” said Pitre, who admitted he is surprised by the response.

Some donors are giving $20, $50 even $100. On Wednesday, a trio of Rodney Arsenault, Lisa Carragher and Abby Peters recorded three songs at St. Simon and St. Jude Church but only posted two of them. A challenge went out that if they received $200 by that night the third song, Vince Gill’s “Go Rest High on the Mountain”, would be posted. The challenge was answered within two hours and, in total, seven donors each put up $50 to have the video posted.

Veteran West Prince singers like Joey Doucette and Kurk Bernard were nominated numerous times and they willingly obliged. Other well-known area singers who responded to requests include Julie Arsenault, Bruce Jones, Cory Gallant, Alyssa Harper, Moe Hashie, Ben Chase and Clint Doucette. Many up-and-coming musicians are also getting to share their music with a wider audience.

“I think this ‘requests’ fundraiser is absolutely brilliant! What an awesome way to expose so many artists. I love hearing all the talent and the deserving cause behind it! WTG Tignish and surrounding areas!” Moe Hashie posted to the group.

“It’s fun. It’s fun to watch music,” Pitre said. “I love the videos. You can listen to radio, but to me, a video is a lot more. You can see the emotion. You’re in people’s homes.”

Pitre is toying with the idea of having all the submitted videos converted to DVDs to present to the Beatons.

Asked if he thinks other fundraisers will copy the “requests” idea, Pitre responds, “Let’er pound.”

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