Shots For Tots benefit aspires to impact WB community in multiple ways
Throughout its seven years of existence, a local toy drive and fundraiser has evolved from focusing on children in need during the holidays to helping youths pursue their passions year-round.
The annual Shots For Tots benefit, now in its eighth year and organized by Wilkes-Barre native and community advocate Brittany Boote, is scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 16 at Bart & Urby’s in downtown Wilkes-Barre.
Per tradition, the event will offer patrons a chance to enjoy food, drink and live music while donating a new, unwrapped toy to be delivered to local nonprofit organizations — in the past, St. Vincent de Paul Kitchen and the Commission on Economic Opportunity have received collections.
Over the last two years, the Shots For Tots foundation Boote started has also collected monetary donations to present a scholarship to an arts student from Wilkes-Barre’s Elmer L. Meyers High School.
“It’s grown in so many directions, but with the same initiative,” Boote said of the benefit.
That initiative, she said, is to encourage arts in the community and have a positive effect on local youth in a way they might not otherwise experience, like furthering education or introducing new avenues through which kids can express themselves.
“We’re focusing more on the donations for the scholarship,” Boote said. “We still accept toy donations, but I want to transition to a foundation that can do more than just (help people) around the holidays.”
Boote said she began thinking of new beneficiaries of Shots For Tots when her yearly call to local nonprofits revealed that some receive a surplus of toys during the holiday season.
“The toys are still productive, but people are so good with doing these kind of drives in our area that when you call, they say, ‘We have a bunch,’” Boote said. “It’s an amazing reflection on our community.”
Boote was inspired to start the Erin M. Boote Scholarship for the Arts in 2015 in the name of her mother who passed away in October of that year.
“Mom was really community oriented,” Boote said. “She was a songwriter and volunteered at an art gallery downtown and was very proud to be a Meyers Mohawk. It makes sense to honor her in this way and keep her memory alive by doing something like this.”
Boote said, each year, she continues to look to make efforts in new directions.
“If I’m able to keep growing, I’d love to be able to create programs dedicated to the arts or to be able to find funding where kids can have a building to go to where they can explore options they might not have in school,” Boote said. “It’s big, big ideas. They are ambitious but not impossible.”
The suggested donation for the evening is $15, but patrons can contribute what they can afford, and all proceeds will go toward the scholarship.
The house band for the evening will include local musicians A.J. Jump and Nick Driscoll.
“It’s going to be like a jam with all different characters throughout the night,” Boote said. “It’s a blast. I look forward to it every year. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to bring so many people together to have a good time and to … support and give back to the community.”
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or on Twitter @TimesLeaderMatt.
IF YOU GO
What: Shots For Tots holiday party, toy drive and fundraiser
Where: Bart & Urby’s, 119 S. Main St., Wilkes-Barre
When: 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Dec. 16
Additional information: The event will feature complimentary hors d’oeuvres, give-aways and dancing. The house band will be led by A.J. Jump and Nick Driscoll. Patrons can bring a new, unwrapped toy or make a monetary donation to the Erin M. Boote Scholarship for the Arts. Suggested donation is $15, but patrons can give more or less if they wish.