Smile Politely

This month’s The Lounge event boosts holiday spirits here and elsewhere

The cold weather might encourage you to stay indoors this weekend, but think again. This Friday, One People, a Champaign-based service organization, is hosting its fifth annual The Lounge, the organization’s signature event, which caters to the performing arts and supports local and global causes.

The event, which will take place at The Hub in Urbana at 7:30 p.m., will raise toy and monetary donations for impoverished children in the Champaign County.

One People’s main message to share with its guests this holiday season: giving is for the everyday.

“We just wanted to remind people that you don’t just have to give during the holidays,” said Michelle Adeoye, co-founder of One People. 

One People, which is partnering with the local organization Friends of Santa, will also be collecting donations for an orphanage in The Democratic Republic of Congo.

Friends of Santa, a local charity organization founded by real estate agent Tom Cain, has been “spreading the joy” to underprivileged children in Champaign County since 1986.

“It’s basically one guy, Tom Cain, who dresses up in a Santa suit and goes around to people’s homes, specifically in the Tolono area, and provides families or kids with gifts for the holidays,” Adeoye said.

She explained that The Lounge will also raise awareness for the children living in a war-torn, high poverty rate in Congo. The children placed in this orphanage have tragic, heartbreaking stories.

“Their parents most likely died of either the violence there or of HIV/AIDS,” Adeoye said. “Some of these kids go months wearing the same tattered and old shirts, or they’ve never seen a toy or anything like that,” she said.

Adeoye said that with this particular event, as well as other events, One People recognizes that giving isn’t just a gift to give during the holidays.

“It’s not just about giving money or material items,” Adeoye said. “It’s also about giving time. There’s so many things that people can do. ”

Like most events coordinated by One People, this month’s The Lounge event showcases local talent to support raising awareness for the various causes.

Storyteller Mallory Morris will be sharing some personal, humorous stories on Friday, hoping to get a few laughs from the audience. 

Morris said that The Lounge’s partnership with Friends of Santa and support for the orphanage in Congo is amazing and near to her heart.

“This past spring I got a chance to go to Africa for the very first time, and I went to Congo,” Morris said. “And so now, there’s this kind of special place in my heart for the Congolese people.”

“So, knowing that One People has chosen an orphanage in the Congo makes me feel like some of the work that I did in April is coming full circle,” Morris added.

Adeoye said that for this Friday’s event, not only will they be having a variety of performers such as poets, storytellers and musicians, but local radio station Mix 94.5’s morning co-host Sarah Addison will be the guest emcee of the evening.

Adeoeye said she is completely excited for this event and even admitted that she will be performing on stage with her jazz band.

“We (One People) really wanted to create a space for the people who aren’t comfortable performing at a church or don’t want to perform at a bar on a Friday night,” she said.

Morris said that The Lounge is a great “artistic experience,” which makes One People and its events so charming and entertaining. 

“It’s a place for creative people, not just singers who want to share their gift,” Adeoye said.

“The night is an opportunity to enjoy the arts,” Morris said. She added that people should come to Friday’s event for the “artistic experience.”

She commented, “If you like music, if you like language, if you like poetry, if you like art, you should be there.

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