Holiday Cheer

Teddy-BearsSPREADING JOY  |  Party hosts Jason Hanna and Joe Riggs are joined by party sponsors and friends on Saturday, Dec. 17, to deliver the more than 250 teddy bears donated during Hanna’s annual Toys for Tots holiday party to Medical City Children’s Hospital. The party, held Dec. 10, also brought cash donations that went to the Theodore Roosevelt Association. Hanna started holding a holiday party at his home in 2009. But in 2010, after both his parents were diagnosed with cancer, Hanna decided to turn the party into an effort to collect toy donations for children with cancer. This year, thanks to much larger expected attendance, Hanna and new co-host Joe Riggs and added sponsors, local attorneys Steve Rahhl and Mike Richardson, to help cover the costs and effort of moving the party to The Davis Building in downtown Dallas. Use of the building was donated by its owner, The Bascom Building.

—  Kevin Thomas

Spirit of Giving: Linze Serrell’s Toys for Tots Show

EDITOR’S NOTE: As the holiday season kicks into high gear, the LGBT community of North Texas once again is responding in a variety of ways to help out those who are less fortunate.

This week Dallas Voice profiles five events intended to raise funds or other donations for a number of different causes. But the community’s good will doesn’t end with these events.

If you know of an individual, business or organization that is holding or participating in a charitable holiday event or effort, email the information to editor@dallasvoice.com.

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Linze-Serrell

Linze Serrell

Saturday night, Dec. 10, Garlow’s in Gun Barrel City will play host to Linze Serrell’s annual Toys for Tots fundraising show, to gather donations of cash and toys for the U.S. Marines’ Toys for Tots program.

Brian Paris, show director at Garlow’s, said that this is the second holiday season since the bar opened, and the second year that the club has hosted the event.

Paris explained that the annual Toys for Tots benefit show was started more than 25 years ago by Bill Lindsey, known across the Metroplex as Linze Serrell, a female impersonator who sings live and focuses his efforts on charitable events.

“This is Linze’s baby, her pet project, on top of everything else that [Lindsey and his partner Michael Champion, aka Sable Alexander] do,” Paris said.

For Lindsey, the annual show is a way to give back and say thanks for the blessings in his own life.

“My mom was a single mom who worked three jobs. There were times growing up that we wouldn’t have had Christmas without the support of the church and organizations like Toys for Tots,” he said. “I know what it feels like to be without, and I want to do something to make sure other kids don’t have to go without.”

Despite a recent stroke, Lindsey said he would definitely attend the event at Garlow’s. “I’d have to be six feet under not to be at this show! And even then, they’d dig me up and put me in the corner! I even plan on singing a song in the show.”

Paris said the show will be “really just a regular drag show,” except that all the performers are donating their time and all the tips go to help buy toys for Toys for Tots.

“Last year, we had a stage full of people participating, and we raised about $2,000. And we had a lot of fun doing it. And all the people participating do it on their own dime. No one receives a penny of compensation.

“These entertainers, we all travel thousands of miles each year, whether it’s to participate in a pageant system for the Home for the Holidays [a program that raises funds to send people with HIV/AIDS home]. But there is nothing in this show that has any personal benefit for the performers, in terms of winning a title or anything. They just do it for the fun of it and for the chance to make Christmas a little bit better for some children who might not have had Christmas otherwise.”

He said that this show is also the only time that Garlow’s ever charges a cover charge, and that the suggested donation of $5 or a new, unwrapped toy at the door will also go into the Toys for Tots total.

But Paris said he knows that a trip to Gun Barrel to attend the show may be out of the question for some. “If someone wants to help but can’t make it down here to Gun Barrel City, then they should find someone where they are who needs help,” he said. “It doesn’t even have to be doing something for kids.

There are lots of people in nursing homes who need a hug. Just go and sit and spend some time with someone who needs your company.”

Linze Serrell’s annual Toys for Tots benefit show begins at 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, at Garlow’s, 308 E. Main St. in Gun Barrel City.

— Tammye Nash

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 2, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Celebrating Linze Serell’s 33rd ’21st’ birthday and helping out a great cause

Linze Serell

Linze Serell (aka Bill Lindsey) will be celebrating her birthday — Someone said her 21st? Yeah, right! — on Saturday night, Oct. 8, at 10 p.m. at Garlow’s, 308 E. Main St. in Gun Barrel City. And while Linze usually manages to have a good time wherever she goes, this event is about much more than that.

The “Christmas in October” party and show is also a fundraiser for the Toys for Tots campaign, kicking off Garlow’s annual Toys For Tots toy drive, with all funds raised going to help children in the Gun Barrel City/Cedar Creek Lake area.

Seriously folks, Linze Serell is one of the most giving, sincere and genuine people I have ever known, and she deserves a big birthday bash (her 33rd “21st birthday”). Plus, you couldn’t find a more worthy cause than Toys for Tots. So if you can make it to Garlow’s on Saturday, please go and give generously. And give Linze a big hug from me.

—  admin

Clawson in concert at Celebration on the Lake

FROM STAFF REPORTS

Celebration on the Lake Church presents a free, live concert by Grammy-winning singer and songwriter Cynthia Clawson on Saturday, July 30, at 7:30 p.m. in the church’s chapel at 9120 Highway 198 in Payne Springs, near Cedar Creek Lake.

The concert celebrates the church’s sixth anniversary. Those planning to attend are asked to RSVP on the church’s website, COTLChurch.org, or by calling the church at 903-451-2302.

Clawson has received a Grammy and five Dove awards for her work as songwriter, vocal artist and musician during a career spanning more than four decades and 22 recordings. She began singing at age 3 when her father, a pastor, asked her to sing in church. She graduated from Howard Payne University with a major in vocal performance, and is perhaps best known for her performance of “Softly and Tenderly” in the soundtrack for the Academy Award-winning movie, Trip to Bountiful.

Clawson and her husband, author and playwright Ragan Courtney, live in Houston. Samples of her music are available online at the Celebration on the Lake Church’s website, COTLChurch.org, and on YouTube.

Celebration on the Lake Church was established eight years ago as a satellite church under the direction of Celebration Community Church in Fort Worth, led by the Rev. Carol West. The Celebration on the Lake became independent of the Fort Worth church six years ago and is now led by Pastor Kathy Bowser. The church, which holds services each Sunday at 10 a.m., contributes to a number of programs in the community, including Toys for Tots, Mabank Nursing Home, Meals on Wheels, Family Resource Center, the Library at Cedar Creek Lake, Humane Society of Cedar Creek Lake and others.

Although the church began as a primarily LGBT congregation, all people are welcome, Bowser said.

—  John Wright