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Leone family of Cockeysville continues Thanksgiving tradition of giving

All during the month of November, blankets, hats, socks and gloves were collected by the Leone family of Cockeysville to benefit the homeless in downtown Baltimore. For the past 18 years, they have organized an annual Thanksgiving meal for 200 men and women and, once again this year, Thanksgiving morning found the family at the corner of Baltimore and Gay streets.

This year, individually packaged turkey subs served as a substitute for the customary hot turkey dinner, but the Leones distributed bags full of snacks and drinks as well. They also provided each person with a duffel bag full of cold-weather gear, blankets and personal items.

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Leone family of Cockeysville,handed out a Thanksgiving meal for 200 men and women and once again this year. Thanksgiving morning found the family at the corner of Baltimore and Gay streets. This year, individually packaged turkey subs served as a substitute for the customary hot turkey dinner, but they distributed bags full of snacks and drinks as well. They also provided each person with a duffle bag full of cold weather gear, blankets and personal items.
Leone family of Cockeysville,handed out a Thanksgiving meal for 200 men and women and once again this year. Thanksgiving morning found the family at the corner of Baltimore and Gay streets. This year, individually packaged turkey subs served as a substitute for the customary hot turkey dinner, but they distributed bags full of snacks and drinks as well. They also provided each person with a duffle bag full of cold weather gear, blankets and personal items. (Melissa Whatley)

The tradition comes from the hearts of Chris Leone and Annette Callahan, who began the event to help their own children, Nicholas, Andrew, and Ellie understand the act of giving to people less fortunate and to understand gratitude.

“It is one of my favorite days of the year,” said Nicholas, who along with his siblings look forward to the event each year.

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The Leone’s efforts are embraced by the entire community, with family, friends, church groups and community organizations all pitching in with donations. The day before Thanksgiving is always a big day, with dozens of volunteers coming together to help organize and assemble the bags. Many others spend their Thanksgiving morning in Baltimore to help with the distribution and all the support enables the Leone family to provide a meaningful Thanksgiving meal for so many.

Get ready Beale Street, The Morgan Gonce Band is heading to Memphis in January to compete at the International Blues Challenge, a worldwide search for the next big blues band. The eponymous band features our very own Morgan Gonce on vocals and guitar, along with Oliver Unger on bass, Sophia Paffenback on keyboards and Bennett Luria on drums. These local high schoolers got their start at Stages Music Arts in Cockeysville with the All-Access band and are now among a select group who will be performing in Memphis representing the Central Delaware Blues Society.

The Morgan Gonce Band - The eponymous band features our very own Morgan Gonce on vocals and guitar, along with Oliver Unger on bass, Sophia Paffenback on keys and Bennett Luria on drums.
The Morgan Gonce Band - The eponymous band features our very own Morgan Gonce on vocals and guitar, along with Oliver Unger on bass, Sophia Paffenback on keys and Bennett Luria on drums. (The Morgan Gonce Band)

Morgan, a sophomore at Carver Center for the Arts, has already assembled an impressive resume, auditioning for America’s Got Talent and Broadway, winning a local songwriting competition, preforming at an Orioles game and with local bands, all since the age of 9.

She discovered a love of performing back at Jacksonville Elementary School and grew musically during her time at Cockeysville Middle School, taking part in the jazz band, orchestra, chorus and drama programs. Now Morgan is in the digital instrumental music program at Carver and expanding into writing, recording, engineering and producing music. Morgan has said that she really wants to do everything musically in the future, though it sure sounds like she is already there!

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The Morgan Gonce Band will be holding a free benefit concert at B.C Brewing Company on Dec. 10 from 6 to 9 p.m. Donations are appreciated to help the band on their way to perform in Memphis.

Best of luck to the band at the International Blues Challenge!

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