Written by: JD Crowe

Canadian Showtime Chorus® is always looking for ways to give back to the community and one of our members’ came up with an incredible idea! We are barbershop singers, we are women, we have hair! What could be better than to partner with a local organization, Hair Donation Ottawa, whose mission is to raise funds for cutting edge child and adult cancer research and empower kids with hair loss by providing them with free wigs. The ultimate objective of this valiant organization is in support of “Cutting Edge Adult and Childhood Cancer Research at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and The Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) Research Institute.”  

Back in the Fall of 2016, one of our members met with the President and CEO and Founder of the organization, Helene Hutchings, to pitch her idea. Helene loved it and visited the chorus to share her story with us. A cancer survivor herself, she is a passionate, energetic and dynamic community leader with a servants’ heart! She talked about why she decided to start Hair Donation Ottawa and shared her personal journey and her battle - and win - over cancer. There was not a dry eye in the house! Helene's story struck a chord with us as several of our members have battled cancer and won but sadly, a few didn’t. As Helene talked, we heard that several of our members or their relatives have donated hair to Hair Donation Ottawa in the past! This appeared to be a match made in heaven.

This has been our journey so far and its’ been a rewarding one!

Our first initiative was meant not only to raise funds but also raise awareness. This first “Hair Raising Experience – Hats for Hair Part 1” involved this Sweet Adelines’ vast collection of 64 (yes 64!!) hats for a photo shoot – quartets, best buddies, contest roomies, coaches…any and all pairings were welcome – for a small donation, photos were branded with our own chorus logo, as well as Hair Donation Ottawa and members were invited to share their photos with friends and family, by email, and on social media networks with a link to our team fundraising page.

Our chorus management team, in addition to supporting all the various “hair raising experiences” supported fundraising efforts by donating a portion of the proceeds from our weekly 50/50 draws for four months.

Our quartets got into the spirit with various community sing-outs – our City of Ottawa supported this effort by providing free space in our beautiful City Hall. Quartets scheduled their sing-outs, and related fundraising efforts around National Barbershop Quartet Day (April 11).

One of our members, who takes care of our costuming and branded clothing held an impromptu clothing sale – she called it “Clean up the Cupboard” sale…

Two vendors at a Christmas Craft sale held in Ottawa kindly provided donations of their crafts to support the cause – the first, in keeping with our “Hair Raising Experiences – Hats For Hair Part 2” involved a local hat maker – Mad Cap Hats, donating some of their unique and hand crafted summer hats for an online auction, which took place online for several weeks.

The second were hand-painted watercolour note cards donated by local artist Cori Lee Marvin, which were gifted to those making donations at the quartet sing-outs.

And our sponsor, East Side Mario donated some gift certificates that we used to sweeten our 50/50 draws and increase sales and fundraising…

We also had some family members / colleagues get on board with fundraising by donating their hair to be used for wig making for cancer patients …

And all the hair that could not be used is not wasted – it is repurposed and used for environmental cleanups.

To culminate our fundraising efforts, on Sunday, April 30, 2017, Hair Donation Ottawa held its annual large-scale hair donation and fundraising event at Algonquin College! Both Canadian Showtime Chorus and KeyRings Quartet performed at the event.

All in all, Canadian Showtime Chorus and our team raised over $4,000 over a four-month period for this important cause – and in the process, had a lot of fun opportunities to team-build, create a feel-good giving opportunity, support our community, all while sharing our love of music.

We are Sweet Adelines and we can make a difference in the fight against cancer!