Veazie music teacher raises more than $1,000 for Good Shepherd by selling self-recorded album

VEAZIE, Maine — A Veazie Community School music director raised about $1,250 for Maine’s largest hunger relief organization by selling copies of his own Christmas album. The funds he raised are enough to provide more than 3,700 meals for hungry Mainers. 

Struck by the magnitude of hunger in Maine, Michael Arell recorded his album and began selling it — in hopes of donating some money to the organization. 

Arell, an instructor and musician, has recorded and directed albums before. But this was the first time he attempted to make an album to benefit a charitable organization — and he wasn’t sure what to expect. 

“It sounds silly but I was like, ‘if I can get 10 friends to buy an album that would be $100 and I’d be pretty proud about that,’” he said. “Especially in a really tough year where everyone is struggling, I just wasn’t sure how people would respond to that.”

The album, which sold for $10 apiece, featured 11 classic Christmas songs played on piano. 

Arell said he chose songs that exist in the public domain, such as “Deck the Halls” and “Silent Night,” so he wouldn’t have to pay royalties and could give more money to Good Shepherd. 

Copies of the album were on sale Thanksgiving Day through Christmas, but people could also stream it online with Spotify, Youtube, Apple Music and Amazon Music. 

At the end of his fundraiser, Arell had sold exactly 123 albums with 1,172 streams. 

Purchases also ramped up as Christmas approached, he said. “It definitely exceeded my expectations.” 

As a teacher, the issue of hunger is personal for Arell. He knows the families in his own community who are struggling to put food on the table amid the pandemic — despite parents working multiple jobs to make ends meet. 

The musician is thinking about other ways he can raise money for Good Shepherd next winter. 

Arell said he wants to continue bringing awareness to the issue of hungry Mainers as it seems people are more willing to donate food during the holidays but it doesn’t always last throughout the rest of the year. 

“The need is there year-round,” he said.

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