The country and Americana artist has organized Saturday’s benefit show in Caledonia, with more than a dozen West Michigan acts performing and raffles to support Mel Trotter Ministries.
To say that Kari Lynch has a soft spot in her heart for the homeless would be a monumental understatement.
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The country, Americana and alt-rock artist who first made a splash in West Michigan before moving to Nashville has organized “A Very Merry Jingle Jam” benefit concert every year since 2012, raising about $15,000 and loads of supplies for Grand Rapids’ Mel Trotter Ministries to help the agency provide food and shelter to the needy.
“Housing and rehabilitating our fellow unhoused humans is a mission that feels like an achievable goal where real and lasting changes can be made,” she said, noting that winter and the holidays are especially tough for “vulnerable members of the community who are not only dealing with the heaviness that can come with the holidays when you don’t have a stable and safe living condition or a solid support system, but who are also dealing with hunger, limited access to resources and little to no protection from cold and dangerous weather elements.”
Hence, the 11th “Jingle Jam” unfolds from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday (Dec. 16) at Caledonia’s Butcher Block Social, 9900 Cherry Valley Ave. SE, with a who’s who lineup of regional artists.
This year’s charity extravaganza will feature music by Kari Lynch Band, Kyle Rasche, Sarena Rae, Mark Sala, August (duo), Hannah Rose Graves, Astro Jackson with Mat Churchill and Shelagh Brown, Matt Gabriel, Bruce Matthews Band, Sean Copenhaver, Steffan Copenhaver and Travis Atkinson.
Admission is free, but donations are strongly encouraged and raffles will take place for a variety of prizes, all to raise funds for Mel Trotter Ministries. Donations of tangible goods, winter coats and attire, and other needed items listed here also will be accepted.
This is the first in-person Jingle Jam since 2019, after live-streaming the benefit for three straight years due to COVID. Lynch said she chose the new location, the 300-capacity Butcher Block Social, because she knows the owners (Justin and Kelly Heyboer) and wanted a warm and comfortable space for the all-ages event.
BUILDING ON ‘A STRONG SPIRIT TO GIVE BACK’ AT HOLIDAYS
“I think Christmastime and the holidays often bring out the best in people and a strong spirit to give back,” Lynch said of assembling the annual benefit show.
“It doesn’t feel like an obligation, but rather a responsibility that I get to have as a musician and songwriter who has been given some unique tools and gifts that allow me to give back in creative ways. … The Jingle Jam feels like a way in which we can all be a part of a solution to actually help people in a substantial way.”
That’s possible, she said, due to the generosity of “so many wonderful and talented friends in the West Michigan music community” who donate their time and talents to Jingle Jam every year.
“My goal in booking the acts for the Jingle Jam is always to book musicians who I believe sincerely want to be a part of this event and who believe in the mission, and also to book a balanced lineup … and have different genres across the board,” said Lynch, who hopes to record new music in 2024 as well as work on a film project.
“I am particularly excited about this year’s lineup because I feel like it does cover a lot of bases and everyone is so talented.”
As for the future of Jingle Jam, Lynch – who returns regularly to West Michigan for performances in her “home” territory — said the sky is the limit.
“My goal in the coming years is to find match sponsors and just keep finding new ways to elevate the Jingle Jam, while retaining the elements that make it such a special and grass-roots event,” she said.
“I look forward to the day when we can raise $15,000 or more at just one Jingle Jam and then keep going.”
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