Music festival will benefit neighbors in need of assistance | Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — Area residents are invited to enjoy a diverse array of music on Thursday while helping neighbors who have fallen on hard times.

The Helper Fund Music Festival will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 pm in the Taylor Pavilion on the Loudoun Street Mall. The event being staged by First Presbyterian Church of Winchester is free to attend but donations to the Helper Fund are encouraged.

First Presbyterian’s Helper Fund was established in the early 1990s to provide emergency financial assistance to local residents who need help with rent and utility bills, medical emergencies, food expenses, car repairs and more. Qualified individuals can receive grants of up to $300 through the program that is operated in partnership with United Way of Northern Shenandoah Valley’s Valley Assistance Network, Highland Food Pantry and the Congregational Community Action Project (CCAP).

“We’ve been dispensing about $3,000 a month,” said Mark Schroeder, who oversees the Helper Fund on behalf of the church at 116 S. Loudoun St. “During the pandemic, there were donations from people who got stimulus money but didn’t need it. … A lot of that ended at the beginning of this year and, since then, we’ve been depleting our funds pretty rapidly. ”

The pandemic also made it difficult for the church to hold public fundraisers to benefit the assistance program. Shroeder said next week’s music festival with be the first fundraising event for the Helper Fund in two years.

“We need to get going here and fill the bank,” he said.

Four local musical acts are expected to take the stage Thursday evening to play in support of the Helper Fund. Schroeder said the first act will be a solo bagpipe performance by Gene Schultz of the City of Winchester Pipes and Drums.

“He’s going to start things off with the thinking that people are going to hear it because it’s so loud and will maybe attract the attention of people walking on the Loudoun Street Mall,” Schroeder said with a laugh.

Following Schultz’s performance, two bluegrass bands featuring renowned performer and music teacher Murphy Henry and her students — The Bluegrass Posse and Murphy, Red and Friends — will entertain the crowd.

The Helper Fund Music Festival will conclude with a performance by Winchester jazz/funk band RTG.

Food and nonalcoholic beverages will be available for purchase during Thursday evening’s musical performances.

If you want to support the Helper Fund but can’t attend the music festival, donations can be made online at To learn more about First Presbyterian Church and its community assistance initiatives, visit