Monday, April 12, 2004

Treats, songs add joy for kids

Free concert: Easter gift from singer

By Liz Oakes
The Cincinnati Enquirer

NEWPORT - Nyoke Struve, 7, didn't mind hearing Christian pop-rock singer Julie Nickell first before getting her candy at an egg hunt Sunday.

"She was great," Nyoke said. "I liked her singing and the way she sung."

Dashia Early, 10, of Newport, has a hard time holding on to all of her eggs at an Easter egg hunt.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
Nickell, who gave a free performance at a public housing project's baseball field near Central Avenue and the riverfront, says if kids come to her concerts for candy and drawings for bicycles, that's fine with her. "If Jesus were here, he'd be giving out Easter baskets today," Nickell told the more than 200 people on the field after singing "Somebody Dance," and other songs from her new CD. "The Bible isn't just some boring book on my coffee table."

Nickell, 32, an Indianapolis native who now lives in Lebanon, has spent her life traveling the country as a Christian singer.

"I entertain people, but the poor ... that's definitely my heart's throb," she said.

She's held similar concerts in El Paso, Las Vegas and Indianapolis, but never before in Greater Cincinnati.

"I do my cardio loop around Kentucky to Cincinnati," Nickell said. "I looked down, and saw these kids digging in the mud with shovels.

"I started crying, that there were these kids with nothing to do but dig in the mud."

She said she decided to come back to the housing project for an Easter concert: "If you love a child, you're already reaching the heart of the parent."

Nickell passed out 700 fliers in the housing development Thursday, and she and her husband, Scott, spent $1,500 on 600 baskets and candy.

At least one parent seemed touched by her efforts. "It's positive ... someone out there cares about these kids," said Shannon Worthington, 27, of Beeler Court.



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