Christmas is almost upon us, and Paul Greene is spreading the holiday cheer.
For the Hallmark Channel star, who plays Dr. Carson Shepherd on the original series, When Calls the Heart, what started as lively Facebook concerts to entertain his fans when the COVID-19 pandemic hit has blossomed into Friday and Sunday musical extravaganzas, now expanding into Christmas songs.
"Just as COVID hit last spring, the folks at Hallmark asked me to sing a few songs before one of our episodes," Greene, 46, tells PEOPLE about the show's devoted audience of "Hearties."
"The concert aired on Facebook with 150,000 viewers who watched that first video," he continues. "We saw that there was a real audience because nobody could leave the house. We wanted to create some entertainment, connection and share the love."
Since then, the actor, also a longtime singer and songwriter, has performed more than 135 free Facebook concerts — from 45 minutes to three hours each — with a mix of fan favorites, traditional songs, his own original music, and audience requests.
"Many viewers remembered me from Hallmark Christmas movies," says Greene, who has starred in five, including his 2015 debut on Christmas Detour with Candace Cameron Bure and last year's Christmas in Evergreen: Tidings of Joy, followed by season 7's Christmas Day launch of When Calls the Heart — Home for Christmas.
During the Sunday Facebook concerts, Greene takes charitable donations. Throughout the month of December, donations will go to St. Jude Children's Hospital. "I am hoping to raise $4,000-$5,000 from the Christmas concert fans, then I will match the money before we give it to St. Jude's."
Growing up on a farm in Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada, the performer watched his father give 10 percent of his income to help people in need no matter what shape he was in financially. "Since I got my first job at age 16, I started giving 10 percent of my own income to help others because I was influenced by my dad's generosity," Greene says.
Acting, singing and giving back are three passions that motivate the star to be his best. Dividing his time between a Marina del Rey home in Los Angeles County and a 3,500-square-foot A-frame vacation cabin on Lake Arrowhead in the San Bernardino Mountains, Greene believes this intense schedule of Facebook performances has helped him grow as a person and as an entertainer.
"These concerts really check the boxes for me," he says. "I like to give back and focus on my art, it's in my soul. When entire families tune in and send me videos, I see how generous, loving and kind they are, which reinforces my love of humanity."
For the past two Christmas seasons, Greene has performed "Hallelujah" at Carnegie Hall in New York City with a 100-person symphony in a 200-person choir. Last year, he was also able to sing his original song "The Stone Again." (The concert benefits Kate Winslet's autism charity, Golden Hat Foundation.) He plans to perform at Carnegie Hall again in 2021.
The actor recently wrapped season 8 of When Calls the Heart, which debuts in February with 12 segments, a gain of two over last season's 10. The Hallmark series offers a powerful story of love, hardship and family values, blending romance, adventure and drama against a backdrop of a 1910 coal mining town.
"I like the series because in our volatile world it offers zen, calm and healing medicine," says Greene, the father of Oliver, 17, with ex-wife Angi Greene Fletcher. "It's a utopia in a dystopian climate, and the same story as Little House on the Prairie. For viewers, our town of Hope Valley offers a sense of home and comfort."
Greene, who is engaged to Australian-bred coach/actress Katie Austin, intends to use his platform to help others find their bliss. Through his music and acting, he hopes to add value to other people's lives.
"I am a positive person, and like to make a contribution to others," says the actor, also busy with several new Hallmark movies in the works. "Helping them find joy, especially during the holidays, is the key to happiness and continued growth."
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