By Matt Mattei - [email protected]

On Dec. 3 Shots for Tots in Wilkes-Barre will benefit kids in need and art students

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Erin Boote with Santa Claus at the second Shots for Tots event in 2012. The yearly toy drive and fundraiser now benefits The Erin Boote Scholarship fund as well as local charities in need of toys after Boote, an advocate for local arts, died in October of 2015.
Submitted photo
Shots for Tots founder Brittany Boote said the foundation and yearly event started with a desire to bring friends and family together during the holiday season to do something positive in the community and have fun.
Submitted photo
Pictured from left are Brittany Boote, Hayley Boote, Colleen Moses, Bryan Boote and Dan Boote at last year’s Shots for Tots event at Bart & Urby’s in Wilkes-Barre. The yearly toy drive and fundraiser has become a family affair for the Bootes and has grown to include around 100 people in 2015.
Submitted photo

WILKES-BARRE — With food, drinks, dancing, and an all-star funk band, Brittany Boote is poised to show that goodwill and community service can go hand in hand with a good time.

Boote hosts the sixth annual Shots for Tots holiday party, toy drive and fundraiser from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Dec. 3 at Bart & Urby’s. The evening features drink specials, complimentary hors d’oeuvres and desserts and live entertainment by Tom Grahame, DJ Big Nate and a house band comprised of Justin Mazer, Al Smith, Vince Saracino and Jon Ventre. Patrons are encouraged to make a $15 monetary donation or bring a new, unwrapped toy.

Toys will be donated to a charity in need and monetary donations will go toward The Erin Boote Scholarship, which gives $500 to a Meyers High School student who seeks an education in the arts.

Boote, 28, of Wilkes-Barre, said the inaugural Shots for Tots event grew from a desire to throw a holiday party to bring together her friends and family and her love for local music while also doing something positive.

The then 21-year-old realized there were plenty of local families in need of aid around Christmas.

“Since it was the holidays, I figured there were a lot of kids in the community who could use toys and also kids who could use gift cards who might be too old for toys,” Boote said.

That first party featured a few local deejays and toys were delivered to the Commission on Economic Opportunity (C.E.O.). Since then, Shots for Tots has evolved to feature different artists every year and benefit organizations such as the Janet Weis Children’s Hospital, the Tom Engle Kris Kringle Toy Foundation and St. Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen.

“With the toys, they’re always donated to different organizations depending on which organizations needed them that year,” Boote said.

The event has also expanded to benefit The Erin Boote Scholarship fund, which was designed in memory of Boote’s mother, who died in October of 2015.

“We came up with the idea for the scholarship, because my mom loved children and she loved the (Shots for Tots) Foundation,” Boote said. “She was a songwriter, and she loved to paint … and she loved Meyers High School, so we thought we’d donate a scholarship to a senior at Meyers who wants to pursue the arts and we’d name it after her. It just made sense.”

Boote’s brother, Dan, said he’s watched the event grow from roughly a crowd of 25 people to a crowd of around 100 last year, which includes immediate and extended family and friends.

“It’s grown organically,” Dan Boote said. “It’s taken on a life of its own, and Brittany’s done an outstanding job of organizing it and combining it with her passion for music and helping the community.”

Brittany Boote said the event is a blast every year.

“I actually get exhausted from dancing early in the night, but I keep going” Brittany Boote said. “The energy in the room is always so good and so positive. It also kicks off the holiday party season. It puts you right into that Christmas mode.”

Bart & Urby’s owner Brian Urbanas said he doesn’t know if even Brittany Boote knew how big the event would become.

“It seems that every year it gets bigger and bigger with more momentum, and this year, doing it on a Saturday, it’s going to be a huge turnout,” Urbanas said.

Brittany Boote said, ideally, she’d like to see the Shots for Tots Foundation grow to help children in the community across a broader spectrum than during just the holiday season.

“This is a dream for the future, but if it’s successful enough, I’d love to create art programs for underprivileged kids and provide spaces where people can teach music or acting or anything artistic,” Boote said.

Erin Boote with Santa Claus at the second Shots for Tots event in 2012. The yearly toy drive and fundraiser now benefits The Erin Boote Scholarship fund as well as local charities in need of toys after Boote, an advocate for local arts, died in October of 2015.
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/web1_Shots2-3.jpgErin Boote with Santa Claus at the second Shots for Tots event in 2012. The yearly toy drive and fundraiser now benefits The Erin Boote Scholarship fund as well as local charities in need of toys after Boote, an advocate for local arts, died in October of 2015. Submitted photo

Shots for Tots founder Brittany Boote said the foundation and yearly event started with a desire to bring friends and family together during the holiday season to do something positive in the community and have fun.
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/web1_BrittanyBoote-3.jpgShots for Tots founder Brittany Boote said the foundation and yearly event started with a desire to bring friends and family together during the holiday season to do something positive in the community and have fun. Submitted photo

Pictured from left are Brittany Boote, Hayley Boote, Colleen Moses, Bryan Boote and Dan Boote at last year’s Shots for Tots event at Bart & Urby’s in Wilkes-Barre. The yearly toy drive and fundraiser has become a family affair for the Bootes and has grown to include around 100 people in 2015.
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/web1_Shots1-3.jpgPictured from left are Brittany Boote, Hayley Boote, Colleen Moses, Bryan Boote and Dan Boote at last year’s Shots for Tots event at Bart & Urby’s in Wilkes-Barre. The yearly toy drive and fundraiser has become a family affair for the Bootes and has grown to include around 100 people in 2015. Submitted photo
Growing holiday fundraiser gathers toys, scholarship money

By Matt Mattei

[email protected]

IF YOU GO

What: Shots for Tots

Where: Bart & Urby’s, 119 South Main St., Wilkes-Barre

When: 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Dec. 3.

Patrons are asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy or make a monetary donation of $15 that will be used toward the Shots for Tots Foundation or The Erin Boote Scholarship. Donations can also be mailed to: ATTN: Shots For Tots, Community Bank, 620 Centre St., Freeland, PA 18224.

Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or Twitter @TLArts

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Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or Twitter @TLArts

IF YOU GO

What: Shots for Tots

Where: Bart & Urby’s, 119 South Main St., Wilkes-Barre

When: 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Dec. 3.

Patrons are asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy or make a monetary donation of $15 that will be used toward the Shots for Tots Foundation or The Erin Boote Scholarship. Donations can also be mailed to: ATTN: Shots For Tots, Community Bank, 620 Centre St., Freeland, PA 18224.