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The first Christmas party of the year took place last night (Nov. 19) in Nashville when the legendary Charlie Daniels hosted his annual "Christmas 4 Kids" concert at the Ryman Auditorium. The event raises money for the organization, which provides 400 children from 29 different schools a new winter coat and a daylong shopping excursion.
Newcomer Caroline Kole kicked off the evening, but the purpose behind the performance was not lost on the 15-year-old. She told Country Weekly, "They're providing a Christmas for hundred of kids who wouldn't have one otherwise. That's pretty spectactular to me."
"Christmas 4 Kids" veteran Phil Vassar was also part of the holiday festivities with his two daughters, his sisters and his mom in tow. And he's been able to see the payoff from the event. "I've been there to see the kids when they're getting their toys and they're on the buses," says Phil, who just released his own Christmas album, Noel. "To do this with Charlie Daniels, who is one of my heroes and just one of the greatest men I know . . . I just love him and this event."
Charlie Daniels beamed from the backstage area, posing for pictures and greeting his guests before his set. "This is my 11th year," he told CW with his signature humble pride. But he also adds, "This should not be credited to me as some great humanitarian thing I'm doing. This is my duty to do things like this because you give what you've got and my gift that God gave to me is music and entertainment." But it isn't just about raising money or providing Christmas gifts. Charlie adds, "It's a matter of doing something you know you ought to be doing and helping some people that need some help. And raising awareness, hopefully, that there are people like this in the community and if we can give somebody a helping hand, we should do it."
Rodney Atkins, also a veteran of "Christmas 4 Kids," beautifully explained what taking part in the event year after year meant to him. "You think you come to town and pray to have hit songs and be successfu, and then you realize that it's actually to do this. This is satisfying. . . . You're making a difference in these kids' lives," he says. "That's as good as it gets. I'm grateful."
A couple of high-profile couples also made an appearance at the show—country superduo Thompson Square and the North Pole's Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Look for more on Charlie and his Christmas album, Hallelujah: It's Christmas Time Again, in an upcoming issue of Country Weekly.