Red pews, blue stained glass and gold chandeliers set the mood Sunday afternoon for the annual Empty Stocking Fund Benefit Concert.
For the 20th year in a row, the all-volunteer Augusta Concert Band opened the Empty Stocking Fund season with a free concert at First Baptist Church of Augusta on Walton Way.
The seasonal charity, begun by The Augusta Chronicle in 1930, raised $115,126 last year and helped more than 1,800 families. During the past decade, Augustans have donated more than $1 million to help those less fortunate.
Three guest conductors took to the podium.
John Harriman, a former president of the band and the trumpet section leader, led the band in Appalachian Carol, among other songs.
Jim Tau, the band director at Lakeside High School, took to the stage for And the Mountains Echoed and An Irving Berlin Christmas.
David Silver, the band director at Lakeside Middle School, conducted the band for a variety of pieces, including Three Moods of Hanukkah.
Jim and Linda Johnson of Evans were seeing the benefit concert for the fourth year.
“The music is always lovely,” Linda said. “What a way to start the holiday season. I hope it continues. I would like to bring the grandkids.”
Shelby Parnell of Beech Island brought her mother and daughter. She gave her daughter some money to donate.
“My mother always taught me to give back during the Christmas season,” Parnell said. “I hope to instill the same in my daughter.”
Master of ceremonies and WRDW-TV news anchorman Richard Rogers was excited to be getting in the spirit.
“It really is the most wonderful time of the year,” he said.