Every holiday season, the High Country Toy Drive hosts multiple live music shows in Boone and Banner Elk with the goal of raising money and bringing in donations of toys and clothing for our area’s youth.

Now in its sixth year, this grassroots benefit drive works with local charities to provide much-needed items that will help local kids in need to have a wonderful Christmas season.

Hosted by Banner Elk resident Lynne Lear, the goal with the High Country Toy Drive events is to make giving fun. Combining live music with food and drink at two of the area’s premier establishments, this is a great way to donate while kicking up your heels.

On Dec. 11, Lost Province Brewing Co. will once again host the initial High Country Toy Drive event in downtown Boone from 6 to 10 p.m. The night will be anchored with live music by the band Upright and Breathin’, featuring Chris Capozzoli, Jeff Moretz and Dirk Brown.

The High Country Toy Drive moves to the Painted Fish Café’ and Bar in Banner Elk on Dec. 12.

Providing the live music entertainment on that night from 6 to 10 p.m. will be Hope Harvey and Friends.

Hosting a High Country Toy Drive for the last few years, the affair is a part of Lost Province’s Get Lost for a Cause benefit program.

“This month of December, our Get Lost for a Cause Non-profit of the Month will be both the High Country Toy Drive as well as for Hospitality House,” said Lynne Mason, co-owner of Lost Province Brewery. “On Dec. 11, along with live music by Upright and Breathin’, we will be collecting unwrapped toys, clothing, cash and gift card donations to benefit the Children’s Hope Alliance. We at Lost Province have always been committed to making the High Country and our global community a better place to live by supporting local non-profit organizations and community groups. Also, 10 percent of all sales on that Tuesday and 5 percent of Kiss My Grits-style beer sales for the whole month of December will go to the Hospitality House.”

The acclaimed Painted Fish Café’ and Bar has also hosted the High Country Toy Drive multiple times over the last few holiday seasons.

“At the Painted Fish Café’ and Bar, both Nancy and Tom Jancovich have been wonderful every year,” said Lynne Lear, High Country Toy Drive creator. “Cory Jankovich even steps up and stays late so that his chefs can go home at a decent hour. Last year, we brought Christmas to over 126 local children who otherwise would not have had one. I actually lost count because we had so many last minute additions who needed donations that we had to scramble to make sure Christmas came for those kids as well. We were up sorting toys until 3 a.m. on the night before Christmas Eve.”

At both events, there will be a door prize given out in the form of the wonderful Hearts of the Hospitality House Cookbook. In this cookbook, each chapter is sponsored by local High Country restaurants who donate some of their best recipes to the cause.

If you cannot make either of the High Country Toy Drive live music, food and drink events, you can donate from the comfort of your home by PayPal or Venmo by contacting Lynne Lear at (423) 794-8825 or lynnelear@yahoo.com.

If you would like to give unwrapped toys or clothing at your convenience, drop off centers will include Lost Province Brewing Company in Boone, Painted Fish Café’ and Bar in Banner Elk, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty in Blowing Rock and Premier Sotheby’s International Realty in Banner Elk.

“We need everything you could imagine for children from newborn to 18 years old,” Lear said. “We collect toys and sort them based on the age, gender and interests of the child whenever possible. A lot of times, the needs of a child or adolescent are very basic, such as clothing items or a backpack for school. Older children tend to be forgotten at Christmas as well and that is where the donations of cash or gift cards really save the day. We do a lot of specific shopping for the children in the programs right up until Christmas Eve.”

Lear is thrilled that the High Country Toy Drive has made a difference season after season.

“This will be our sixth year doing the drive and there is more need than ever,” Lear said. “I love to throw the toy drive parties with my generous musical friends because it brings everyone out on a December night in a true spirit of giving. Folks often tell me at the events how grateful they are to be able to enjoy themselves while helping someone else less fortunate. For many, this toy drive is an avenue for giving that works, because in the past they weren’t sure of the best way to help make a direct difference locally.”

So, here is a chance to be in good cheer, sharing food, drink and live music with other generous folks while making Christmastime a positive and uplifting experience for the area’s youth.

“We accept donations through many different avenues, of course, but people have so much fun at these toy drive parties that I will continue to organize them every year,” Lear said. “The holidays can be very tough for some folks, so getting out for fun and fellowship can really help everyone get into the holiday spirit. And, giving to these children often helps people feel better about their own circumstances. I love live music and I love to make giving a truly enjoyable experience for folks. It certainly gets me into the Christmas spirit.”

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