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Sports stars to donate items for Lac-Megantic benefit

MONTREAL - The power of sports and music celebrity is being added to efforts to help the people of Lac-Megantic in the wake of the devastating train derailment and explosion that has left 28 people confirmed dead so far.

At least three benefit concerts have been announced, including events in Quebec's two biggest cities.

A benefit concert next Wednesday in Montreal will bring together Quebec music stars with the support of sports teams in the province and from beyond.

The event, which has ticket prices ranging from $30 to $40, will also include a silent auction where people can bid on items contributed by several hockey players.

Montreal Canadiens players Daniel Briere, Francis Bouillon and David Desharnais will contribute items for the bidding and Philadelphia Flyers centre Maxime Talbot, who will attend the event, is donating a Flyers jersey.

Sweaters will also be provided by Minnesota Wild player Jason Pominville and Francois Beauchemin of the Anaheim Ducks.

Members of the CFL's Alouettes and some of the team's cheerleaders will be on hand as will tennis player Aleksandra Wozniak.

A host of Quebec musicians are also scheduled to perform, including Les Croches.

Two organizers, Katy Cloutier and Stephanie Girardeau, are originally from Lac-Megantic, which was devastated when a train loaded with crude oil derailed and exploded last weekend.

Another benefit concert has also been organized for Quebec City on Thursday which will include musicians, comedians, DJs and performance artists.

As well, the Quebec band Noir silence has also announced a concert to take place on Monday at the Beauce-Appalaches junior college in St-Georges-de-Beauce, southeast of Quebec City. They will be joined by several other bands, including the Lost Fingers and singer Michel Rivard.

"We have lost friends," the band said on its Facebook page. "The entire world has been touched by this tragedy. We had to do our part."

The band announced Friday the event had sold out.

Jonas, the lead singer of the band Jonas&The Massive Attraction, says his group is also considering what it can do and is keen to help.

Jonas, who performs under his first name but whose last name is Tomalty, has strong connections to Lac-Megantic and was made an ambassador for the region a few years ago to help boost tourism.

"We're all still pretty shaken up about the whole thing," he said before boarding the flight to Europe for a gig earlier this week.

He and his fiance were at the family cottage 10 minutes from Lac-Megantic's core when the disaster happened.

Jonas said he had been awed by the beauty of the town while biking around it the day before the explosion.

"The next morning all of that was gone. It was absolutely horrendous."

He said his grandfather used to have a shop on the town's main street years ago and the singer used to hang out at the Musi-Cafe, a popular bar that was destroyed in the explosion and fire. Jonas said he knew one waitress who escaped with flames licking at her back.

The singer said celebrities can help out a lot when it comes to raising money to cope with the disaster, which he said is environmental as well as human.

"All I can do is encourage people to do whatever they can to raise money," he said. "The Red Cross is in big need right now."

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