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Warm The Children

Songs warm hearts and hands

TURNERS FALLS — On the first Friday of the month, the swinging sounds of Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Stafford fill the Rendezvous on Third Street and take listeners back to the 1940s.

Singer and guitarist Drew Paton transforms the stage into an old radio show for his original show, the 1940s Hit Parade.

On Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. at the Rendezvous, Paton will offer anyone who brings in a new article of children’s clothing a free drink. Paton will donate the clothing to Warm the Children.

“I love it because it’s local,” Paton said. “It’s so sad we need to do it. It’s going to get cold. I hope we get a lot of people.”

For more than 26 years, the Warm the Children campaign, run by The Recorder, has raised money to buy clothes for about 1,000 children in the community each year. The newspaper partners with Wilson’s Department Store, which buys and distributes the clothes, and anti-poverty agency Community Action, which finds the families in need. Many local people, schools and organizations hold fundraisers to fund the campaign. Paton is just one of those many warm-hearted people.

The Greenfield resident got his start playing on the streets of Boston, Cambridge and Cape Cod. Eventually, Paton moved to western Massachusetts.

Paton didn’t take up his guitar and mic again in public until five years ago.

“I said if I’m going to start playing out again, I wanted to play stuff near and dear to me growing up,” Paton said.

The music Paton loved was the 1940s-era hits.

“I started learning the songs. It was challenging, romantic,” said Paton. “I fell in love with it.”

Paton created an original show, where he dons a suit, hat, uses an old microphone and has 400 slides of the 1940s flashing in the background.

Paton started playing at local senior centers until friends encouraged him to play at other locations as well. Paton was quickly invited to have a regular gig at the Rendezvous.

“I’m happy doing what I’m doing,” Paton said.

His father was a navigator on bombers in the Pacific during World War II. He said the music of the 1940s kept his parents in touch as his father listened to it from the Pacific and his mother heard it from Norwood.

“I think it’s a tribute to that generation,” Paton said. “These people were kissing goodbye on a train platform. They didn’t know if they’d see each other again.”

To donate to Warm the Children, send a check to: Warm the Children, c/o The Recorder, P.O. Box 1367, Greenfield, MA 01302. New clothing may also be dropped off at The Recorder, 14 Hope St., any time during the year.

The Recorder will carry weekly stories about the progress of this year’s drive and the people helping and helped.

If you have stories to tell about Warm The Children or plan fundraisers, let us know. Call 772-0261, ext 268, or write to:

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