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An amazing young lady!

Peyton Tosh, 16, of Jacksonville has organized her second fundraising concert.

Peyton Tosh, 16, of Jacksonville has organized her second fundraising concert.



Posted Feb 08, 2010 @ 11:00 PM

Girl Scout Peyton Tosh does a whole lot more than sell cookies.

The 16-year-old home-schooled Jacksonville girl is a performer, philanthropist — and most recently, a music director.

Peyton has participated in four musicals and five plays, sung at a fundraising concert, has led the national anthem at Springfield Sliders baseball games, handed out food for Meals On Wheels and is now directing her second concert, “Romance on Broadway.”

The concert, which will benefit the Hoogland Center for the Arts and the American Red Cross Meals On Wheels program, will take place Saturday at the Hoogland Center for the Arts.

“It’s a great chance to go out for a nice Valentine’s date or listen to some good music for a good cause,” Peyton said.

Her first shot at raising money for a good cause came last year with “Sunset On Broadway,” a concert she organized to raise money to pay membership fees for low-income girls who want to join Girl Scouts. The show, at Lincoln Avenue Baptist Church in August 2009, raised $1,500 and won Peyton the Association of Fundraising Professionals Volunteer Youth Philanthropy Award.

Peyton has been the president of the Red Cross Youth Corps in Jacksonville for two years, and now her philanthropic mind has turned to the arts and senior communities in Springfield.

Peyton started volunteering at the Red Cross in Springfield in 2005 when her dad found work at the organization in the financial development program. She was elected president of the Red Cross Youth Corps, which represents the Red Cross in parades, does general volunteer work and raises money.

“It’s the junior version of the Red Cross,” she said.

Peyton’s interest in helping Meals On Wheels was piqued after running Springfield routes with with her dad for about four years. She stopped about a year ago because of the distance.

“Many people would be forced into nursing homes if we didn’t bring them food,” she said. “It’s great when we open the door, and their faces light up. The meals are the best part of their day.”

Peyton also learned about the Hoogland Center for the Arts’ recent financial situation after reading an article in The State-Journal Register about the center’s difficulties making mortgage payments.

“I really love all it provides to the art community,” Peyton said. “It would be horrible if it were to go under — it’s a hub of art activity, with galleries and the theater.”

So, in November, she called the Hoogland Center, and marketing and communications director Janet Seitz Carlson agreed to the concert. Later that month, Peyton began assembling a crew for the show.

“We were moved that she contacted us after seeing our plight, and it’s obvious Peyton takes a joy in what she does,” Seitz Carlson said.

Peyton is looking forward to “Romance on Broadway,” which has a love theme because of its close proximity to Valentine’s Day.

She has organized a variety of singers to sing romance songs that have been performed in Broadway musicals.

Among others, Lydia Cox will sing “Memory” from “Cats,” Gil and Ann Opferman will sing “Do You Love Me” from “Fiddler on the Roof” and Peyton will sing “Almost Like Being in Love” from “Brigadoon.” She performed the song last year when the Jubilee branch of Habitat For Humanity contacted her about its fundraiser at the Illinois School for the Visually Impaired in Jacksonville.

Logan Bobb, a senior at Jacksonville High School will sing “Come What May” from “Moulin Rouge” with fellow JHS student 16-year-old Kate Scott.

“Peyton Tosh is a remarkable teenager, doing an amazing thing,” said Logan, 17.

A born performer

When Peyton goes to the theater, she’s usually performing — not sitting in the audience.

In 2004, she made her stage debut as a 10-year-old chorus member in “Oliver!” for the Jacksonville Theatre Guild. While neither of her parents are performers, Peyton quickly grew to enjoy the limelight.

Since “Oliver!” Peyton has tried out for a play or musical at least once each year, and she’s been in several productions in Jacksonville and Springfield.

Preferring musicals, Peyton said she loves “being onstage after the show — when you can tell people really just loved (the show). I love seeing people happy and knowing they enjoyed it.”

While organizing her first concert last year, Peyton found that most of her contacts were easy to find from within the theater community. Most were comfortable with Broadway songs, so she simply asked them to pick what they wanted — a strategy she used to flesh out the program for this year’s show.

She said she helps performers find their songs if asked, but the real trick is assembling the talent for a good cause.

Because she is home-schooled, Peyton does school work at her own pace. That comes in handy when she gets busy with her many extracurricular activities.

Her willingness to get involved is proving to be quite helpful for local theater in Springfield and for homebound senior citizens.

“When she first approached us, we were extremely touched and impressed with her enthusiasm and drive, especially given her youth,” Seitz Carlson said.

The money raised at the show will be split between the Hoogland and Meals On Wheels.

“The best part is actually at the concert, seeing all the hard work turning into something really great,” Peyton said. “The final product is really amazing.”

Farah Tamizuddin is a junior at Springfield High School.

Copyright 2010 The State Journal-Register. Some rights reserved

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