The Great Lakes Bay Region releases its first-ever holiday album

The Great Lakes Bay region is releasing its own holiday video album this Friday, Dec. 18.


Avram Golden, owner of Golden Gallery & Custom Framing and Avram Golden Photography in Bay City, came up with the idea at work, listening to Christmas music. Realizing the region had never done a Christmas album before, he sought out local artists to star in the video. Within a week, the album was mostly recorded.


Then, Golden started thinking about the needs of soup kitchens and food banks.


“What a great thing to do if we could … put a light on what they’re going through in this extra difficult year,” says Golden.
Donny Zuzula performs “Christmas in Prison,” by John Prine.

Golden recruited Samantha McKenzie, president and CEO of Hidden Harvest, to help him incorporate information about local nonprofits into the video. Hidden Harvest distributes surplus food, serving 180 different nonprofit programs in the region.


The goal of the video is to not only raise funds but also to educate. The take-home message? To give local, even if it isn’t an organization featured in the video. Local charities have felt a major impact from this pandemic.


“There’s always been an increased need surrounding the holidays,” says McKenzie.”There’s a lot of organizations that have tried to do holiday baskets every year and this year, everything looks different. It’s really nice to be able to continue to support our partners and maybe use this video to do that much more.”


You can donate to Hidden Harvest and their partners on their GoFundMe page. Their goal is to reach $15,000.
Kathy Staudacher performs “Silent Night,” by Franz Xaver Gruber.

For the video, each artist was filmed at a different location, to name a few: the Tridge, Studio 23, and The Temple Theatre.


“There’s just a bunch of places that I know that if I’m missing them, other people in our region are, too,” says McKenzie. “… These places are all still out there — waiting for us to be able to come back and visit them — and the talent that exists in the region is still here and it will be here when this is over.”


A virtual viewing party for the full video will be held this Friday on the Third Street Star Bridge Facebook page.


“The theme of [the Third Street Star Bridge] project is illuminating love, life and art, and that was a great catalyst of this project — to utilize the Star Bridge as that light,” says Golden.
Drew Pentkowski performs “Blue Christmas,” by Billy Hayes and Jay W. Johnson.


Tracklist for “Christmas Album for Charity - Hunger Relief GLBR”


Local artists performed their favorite holiday songs.

  1. “Blue Christmas,” Drew Pentkowski
  2. “We Three Kings,” Amy Petty
  3. “I Want an Alien for Christmas,” Andy Reed
  4. “Christmas in Prison,” Donny Zuzula
  5. “White Christmas,” Donny Brown and John Rickert
  6. “Merry Christmas Baby,” Jeff Yantz
  7. “Feliz Navidad,” Matt DeHeus
  8. “Jingle Bell Rock,” Joshua James Sharrard
  9. “Light a Candle,” Lora Aldrich
  10. “Run Run Rudolph,” Scott Baker and The Red Nose Trio
  11. “Hallelujah,” dance by Madison Elliot, piano and singing by Joshua James Sharrard
  12. “Silent Night,” Kathy Staudacher
  13. “Mi Y’malel,” Alan Golden
  14. “What Christmas Means to Me,” Cameron Munholland
  15. “Auld Lang Syne,” Jeff Yantz
Scott Baker and The Red Nose Trio perform “Run Run Rudolph,” by Chuck Berry.

Nonprofits featured


Consider donating to any of these local charities. Donations don’t have to be just monetary — some organizations are looking for volunteers.


1. Hidden Harvest
Hidden Harvest is happy to serve as Santa’s sleigh for the Great Lakes Bay Region’s nonprofits, delivering wonderful gifts of food donations to our community partners.

2. Safe Harbor Center in Bay City
This year, Safe Harbor Center will break all numbers with over 2 million pounds of food given away with over 15,000 meals distributed.

3. The Bridge Food Center in Midland
COVID has impacted the ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) population more than any other population. There are many ways to get involved, including volunteering, donating food or money, or spreading the word about the Bridge to those that need its services.

4. God’s Helping Hands in Hemlock and Merrill
This group collects and distributes clothes, food and household items.

5. Food of Faith in Bay City
Food of Faith serves a free meal to those who come every Thursday. They’ve seen up to a 100% increase in need.

6. Mustard Seed Shelter in Saginaw
The need for shelter is great and growing on a daily basis as a result of job losses and subsequent loss of housing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Check out their website or call 295-8392 to learn how you can help.

7. St. Vincent de Paul Society Food Pantries in Bay County
So far, St. Vincent is able to meet the current needs in the community, but this could change a bit if this pandemic continues into the new year.

8. Senior Services in Midland
This nonprofit provides services to seniors to help them age within their own homes.

9. West Midland Family Center in Midland
West Midland Family Center empowers families by providing enriching programs, from preschool to seniors.

10. 2-1-1 Northeast Michigan in Midland
The top requests made by callers reaching out to 2-1-1 for help include housing, utilities and food.

Read more articles by Crystal Gwizdala.

Crystal Gwizdala grew up in the Tri-Cities and enjoys broadcasting all the positive change happening in Midland. As Assistant Editor for Catalyst Midland, her favorite topics are environment, wellness, mental health, and the arts. As a human, Crystal is a serial hobbyist: hiking, drawing, yoga, and playing music. Her work can be seen in The Detroit Free Press, Midland Daily News, and The Delta Collegiate. To see what Crystal’s up to, you can follow her on Twitter @CrystalGwizdala.