$200,000 worth of ‘Christmas Cheer’

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From left, Catherine O'Grady with singer Jill Barber at the Ottawa Jazz Festival's 15th Annual Benefit held Thursday, December 6, 2012 at Library and Archives Canada. (Photo: Caroline Phillips)

It’s nice to know the holiday spirit can ring loud and clear at any hour of the day.

Nearly 1,000 people got up early Thursday to head to The Westin Ottawa for its Christmas Cheer breakfast, now in its 22nd year. The networking event coincides with CFRA’s day-long radio broadcast in support of the Christmas Cheer Foundation.

“The single best thing about the event is that by the end of the day we’re going to be up, I hope, close to $200,000 for charity,” John Jarvis, general manager of the Westin hotel and past chair of the foundation, told Around Town.

Every dollar raised goes to a number of local charities, including the Ottawa Food Bank and other food and food hamper programs. The Christmas Cheer Foundation is chaired by David Rattray, president of Public Accountability Consulting.

Fresh orange juice, fruit, muffins and croissants were laid out with cold cuts and cheese trays on nearly 100 breakfast tables in the main ballroom. As for the entrée, it was dished out by 50 celebrity servers

Police Chief Charles Bordeleasu donned an apron to serve frittata to senior members of the Ottawa Police Services. Meanwhile, veteran broadcast journalist Craig Oliver didn’t let his visual impairment keep him from his serving duties, although he stopped short of pouring hot coffee.

Among the many community leaders sighted in the thick crowd was Ottawa Boys and Girls Club board president Graham Macmillan, who, a little bird told me, just received a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal.

SWINGIN’ GOOD TIME

The public asked for her and the Ottawa Jazz Festival listened by getting sultry songstress Jill Barber to return to the nation’s capital to perform at its benefit concert Thursday.

“She’s the one person people kept saying, ‘Bring her back, bring her back,’” festival executive producer Catherine O’Grady told Around Town Thursday at Library and Archives Canada.

Around Town crossed paths with some of Barber’s fans, including Snookie Lomow, who owns all her CDs and has seen the Vancouver-based, Juno-nominated singer-songwriter perform on several occasions. “I love her voice,” Lomow said before the show.

The unofficial opening act was CBC Radio’s Alan Neal, who sold off a long list of fine wines, getaways via Porter Airlines and dinner, spa and hotel packages to a crowd of about 350.

“Welcome to Library and Archives, while it still exists,” said Neal, whose wit and sarcasm kept attendees laughing throughout the auction.

Present were members of the festival’s board of directors, including its president, Louise Meagher. Metro Glebe owner Jim McKeen gave up his tickets to Pride and Prejudice to attend the jazz benefit. He had his eye on a weekend for two to St. John’s.

Come auction time, McKeen kept his bidding card down as the price for the trip climbed. Only when the bidding nearly reached the trip’s $1,600 value did McKeen raise his number and place what became the final winning bid.

The evening brought in $35,0000.

… AND SPEAKING OF MUSIC

If you’re going to be broke after Christmas you might as well go baroque before.

Around Town dropped into the post-concert reception for the Baroque Christmas Around the World music concert held at Dominion-Chalmers United Church last Sunday, featuring soprano Dawn Bailey and Montreal’s Ensemble Caprice.

The church room was noticeably spruced up for the reception with red poinsettias, bowls full of red ball ornaments and paintings on loan from artist Katherine Jeans.

Ottawa Chamber Music Society (OCMS) board member Ted Mann from sponsor Mann & Partners was in the room with one of his law firm partners, Heather Austin-Skaret. Mann has been known to act in the GCTC’s annual Lawyer Play fundraiser and sing in the Opera Lyra Chorus.

“I have this need to be involved in the arts because it’s part of that creative expression that I love,” explained Mann, who considers himself fortunate to earn a living in law. “Because I have chosen the profession that I have, I have the ability to support the arts, financially.”

OCMS executive director Glenn Hodgins was sighted with a button pinned to his suit lapel promoting Chamberfest’s charity raffle. The prize is a round-trip, seven-night stay for two at the Grand Isle Resort & Spa in the Bahamas, worth $7,500. There are only 100 tickets, selling at $100 each, and ticket sales end Friday.

SHEPHERD OF GOOD HOPE

Shop until you drop (a lot of money) was the motto of a stylish group of women recently seen at Shepherd’s glimmering and spacious new store in the Train Yards, helping to raise funds for Bruyère Continuing Care.

On Monday and Tuesday nights, owner Marlene Shepherd has been closing her new location to host private parties, such as the Fashion FUNraiser for Bruyère. Fifteen per cent of everything sold that night was donated to Bruyère, which specializes in caring for the elderly, chronically ill and dying.

There were hors d’oeuvres from Epicuria and wine from Sandbanks Estate Winery. The ladies watched volunteer models flaunt the latest in fashion and accessories on an elevated catwalk (by day, it converts into a long jewelry counter).

Shepherd’s GM, Sam Poole, peppered her runway narration with helpful fashion tips and advice on what to wear. The fashion plates were CTV’s Leanne Cusack, prominent octogenarian Grete Hale, Marie Joanisse, Elizabeth Kane, Bruyère Foundation board chair Fiona Gilfillan and McGarry Family Chapels co-owner Sharon McGarry.

McGarry showed off a flattering shoulder-exposing two-piece Sympli outfit. Back in October, it was modelled by Dorothy Jackson at a FUNraiser for Project North. Her hubby, retired Scotiabank executive Dennis Jackson, bought the ensemble, in purple, for Dorothy as an early Christmas present. She had it on for the Bruyère event with an Accentrix necklace from Shepherd’s.

The store has been beautifully decked out for the holidays, although Bruyère brought bonus decor in the form of dashing fellas — including Bruyère’s Dr. José Pereira, medical chief of palliative care, and senior executive and CFO Daniel Levac — to escort models on stage.

Carolyn001@sympatico.ca

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