Community Voices

Giving back, reading celebrations and music galore for the holidays

Some of Gulliver Schools’ third graders and their teacher welcome Coral Gables Fire Department fire rescue teams at a successful canned food drive for the Grove Outreach food bank.
Some of Gulliver Schools’ third graders and their teacher welcome Coral Gables Fire Department fire rescue teams at a successful canned food drive for the Grove Outreach food bank.

Giving to others was good this week when the third-graders at the Gulliver Schools Academy campus lined up, each with a bag of canned goods for families in need.

There was also fun when firefighters with the Coral Gables Fire Department rescue teams visited the school to receive the hundreds of collected cans. The firefighters helped the students deliver the goods to the Grove Outreach food bank in time for the holidays.

“Providing students hands-on opportunities to engage in experiences that teach empathy and community stewardship is important to the development of all Gulliver students,” said Rachel Griffin, Gulliver Lower and Primary School Principal in email. “We are proud to be working with community partners to achieve these goals.”

According to Feeding South Florida, “710,370 people in South Florida do not know where they will get their next meal.” In a partnership with Feeding South Florida, Grove Outreach has helped those who are hungry in our community for over 23 years. You can pitch in too by giving your time or donations at

Reading celebration

More than 10,000 children across Miami-Dade and Monroe counties participated in the world’s largest reading event on Oct. 19 — the national Read for the Record campaign. This year’s book was “Quackers” by Liz Wong.

The Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe hosted the series of interactive book readings across both counties. The non-profit also helped give more than 3,600 copies of “Quackers” in English and Spanish to children for their home libraries.

“We are excited to once again participate in this national event that celebrates the power of reading,” said Evelio C. Torres, president and CEO of the ELC of Miami-Dade/Monroe in a release. “Throughout the years and via our participation in this event, we’ve helped expand thousands of in-home libraries for our community’s youngest residents.”

ELC turned the one-day national effort into a week-long community reading celebration through partnerships with local organizations including History Miami, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami-Dade Public Library Systems, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Children of Inmates, United Way – Reading Pals, Miami-Dade Family Learning Partnerships and Stop Parenting Alone. To get involved, visit

Free caroling

For 30 years, the Merrick Festival Caroling Competition has been a fun way to support young singers and celebrate the holidays. The public is invited to enjoy the music.

Starting Nov. 29 through Dec. 3, middle and senior high school students in public, private and parochial schools of Miami-Dade and Broward counties will perform free holiday concerts in front of the large poinsettia tree on the steps of the 550 Biltmore Way Building in Coral Gables. All performances are 7-10 p.m. The Dec. 3 Sunday performance is 3-6 p.m.

The students will compete for cash prizes. The awards show will be at 7 p.m. Dec. 5 when the winning groups will accept their prizes and perform once again. For more, visit or call 305-491-4180.

Free night at the museum

Celebrate the arts and 10 years of the Knight Arts Challenge at free performances with free admission at Pérez Art Museum Miami and Frost Science. The events require an online RSVP at

“Bringing Art To Life” is 7-10 p.m., Dec. 4 at Knight Plaza, 1103 Biscayne Blvd. In addition to admission, there will be performances by Knight Arts Challenge winners Spam Allstars, Locos Por Juana and Afrobeta, plus DJ sets by Lolo Reskin of Sweat Records and DJ Le Spam.

Guests can also enjoy a literary alley plus pop-up performances by local dance companies, choral groups and a projection of New World Symphony’s Miami-made piece, “Project 305.”

The Knight Foundation funds the best ideas for the arts, with free cultural events in November and December.

There will be a Cultural Marketplace from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Dec. 3 at Pinecrest Gardens, 11000 Red Road, Pinecrest. The Sunday Farmers Market will include artist booths, maker fair workshops, musical performances and Pinecrest Gardens’ latest installation by environmental artist Patrick Dougherty.

Free holiday concert

Celebrate the season when the Kendall Orchestra presents the free Holiday Celebration Concert at 6 p.m., Dec. 3 at Kendall United Methodist Church, 7600 SW 104th St., Pinecrest. Music will include “Christmas Eve Sarajevo 12/24,” “Dry Bones,” “The Festival of Hanukkah,” “Christmas a la Big Band,” “A Classic Christmas,” “Ashokan Farewell,” and an audience sing-along of Leroy Anderson’s “A Christmas Festival.”

The multi-generational (ages 15-86), multi-ethnic, multi-denominational, all-volunteer Kendall Orchestra started in 1986. Thom Proctor has been its director since 2005.

“This orchestra is an amazing group of dedicated musicians, some of whom started playing their instruments in the ’70s, and others have been playing for 70 years. Players also perform with the Greater Miami Symphonic Band, Miami Lyric Opera, Miami Symphony, New Horizons Band, Miami Wind Symphony, and among other musical groups in South Florida,” Proctor said in email. Call 305-667-0343 to learn more.

If you have news for this column, please send it to Christina Mayo at