11-year-old musician raises money for Squamish Helping Hands

Von Derrick aims to raise $400 for charity

It’s a bustling Saturday at the Squamish Farmers’ Market. Over the crowd of people wandering the booths carries the soothing tunes that draw their own small crowd. Some passing shoppers stop and take a seat to listen longer. Others drop change into the open guitar case where a sign reads "I'm raising money for... Squamish Helping Hands. Thanks!"

Von Derrick, the 11-year-old behind the guitar, has a gentle voice that breathes life into classics like the Beatles as he strums along, making the whole performance look effortless. Between each song he gets a hearty round of applause.

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His plan this summer vacation? To raise $400 for the Squamish Helping Hands. Ahead of Aug. 24’s performance, he’s made $178 this season, appearing at the market and in front of the liquor store. He’s got two more weeks to meet his fundraising goal.

The young Derrick is no stranger to the stage. He first played in front of an audience at his school’s talent show, then at nine years old began performing at the weekly summer Amped in the Park series that gives novice musicians a platform to play on. While some might pale at the thought of standing in front of dozens of strangers, this kid doesn’t get nerves.

"We always marvelled at him. He's never had stage fright at all,” his mom, Michelle Derrick, told The Chief.

“I like playing in front of people,” Derrick says simply. “The first time I performed in front of an audience, I was really excited because I've never done that before.”

While electric guitar is fun, he said acoustic songs are his favourite to play. He's been playing piano for five years and guitar for three.

This year, Derrick wanted to perform more, so he took up busking. His mom suggested donating to Squamish Helping Hands, where the family routinely donates extra fruit from their yard and candy after Halloween.

“I just think it's a great resource for Squamish to have for people who are maybe struggling to get their next meal,” Michelle said. “I think it's a great resource that they can go there to do a load of laundry or have a meal or find some other services to help people out. We've always thought it is a great way to help local people."

While he originally planned to surprise Squamish Helping Hands with his donation, it's hard to keep talent like this underwraps for long.

“We're really proud of him," Michelle said. "He's a really empathetic, generous kid.”

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