The Sounds of the Season – Union Station carollers raise voices, and money, for a good cause

For the seventh year in a row, the GO York Concourse will be full of the sounds of the season. The Metrolinx holiday carollers are performing for travellers, including GO customers, during rush hours throughout the month of December. There’s a special cause for their chorus.

Amid the constant hustle and movement of Toronto’s Union Station, you can hear the sound before you see where it’s coming from.

The holidays are not just about the sights, they’re also about a change of tone for the city.

Every year, Metrolinx staff from all over the region — transit safety officers, customer service reps, transit planners and engineers alike — come together during the holiday season to sing seasonal standards in Union Station’s GO York Concourse. They raise voices and spirits, while collecting needed funds for the United Way Greater Toronto.

With a goal of $5,000 this year, the group hopes the joyful noise may translate into change in a bucket – as well as in the lives of strangers.

As the group sings, commuters normally running to their jobs, parents pushing strollers and staff scurrying to their desks, pause a few moments to listen.

The sound echoes far inside the large transit hub.

“Every year I am pleasantly surprised to get off my GO train and have my mad dash to the office interrupted by this angelic sound,” said one commuter has she recently videotaped the performance.

“This moment makes me feel grateful for what I have in my life — my family, my job, my health.”

Dropping $5 into the donation bin, she said: “Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah.”

The fundraising initiative was originally started in 2012 by one of the most experienced vocalists, and a long-time employee, Metrolinx Station Operations controller, Lori-Ann Smith. She was inspired after Metrolinx participated in a workplace singing competition called ‘Canada Sings’.

“It is a wonderful sight to see passengers gather around us when we are singing,” said Smith. “And it’s the icing on the cake when we see those that are emotionally moved by a particular song, word or rhythm.”

The initiative has raised more than $12,000 for United Way Greater Toronto in the past three years.

Group of people singing Christmas carols in the GO Concourse at Union Station

The Metrolinx carollers hope to raise more than $5,000 for United Way Greater Toronto this December. (Photo by Anne Marie Aikins)

Over $2,000 was raised in their first session this week, Smith said – not including the British pounds and American funds sitting in the bin.

Music, and good will, are universal this time of year.

Travellers inside Union Station can catch the Metrolinx carollers singing classic tunes on December 11 and again on December 18 during the early morning rush, from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

Just follow the sound.

To learn more about the United Way Greater Toronto’s efforts in the community, click here.

By Anne Marie Aikins, Metrolinx senior manager, Media Relations and Issues.