Delmont Cardinal Project Gives Recovery Wings

Community Effort Helping To Bring Image To Renewal

On May 10th, 2015, an E.F-2 tornado with wind speeds of 130 miles per hour tore through the town of Delmont.

Buildings in the community were left in ruin and some residents were left without homes.

After almost a year, the recovery in Delmont has a set of wings

Leland Tjeerdsma’s shop class at the Tripp-Delmont school has cut 1,400 wooden sculptures of cardinals.

They’ve accepted the challenge of helping the ‘Cardinal Project,’an effort to put an image to hope and recovery in the community.

Tjeerdsma said this project hasn’t been like a normal school assignment for his students.

“They made it fun. They made it kind of a competition. Who did the best? Which bird had a bigger wing? Or a shorter beak?” said Tjeerdsma.

In order to get this task, the idea needed to hatch.

Owner of the Paintbrush Studio in Delmont, Sam Grosz, and her friend, Barbara Hoffman gave the Cardinal Project life.

Grosz said they wanted a bright colored image to be easily spotted as the community sees growth.

“We’ve kind of centered it on birth, death and renewal. We feel Delmont is at it’s renewal stage,” said Grosz.

Their original goal of getting one cardinal in every lot in town by the one year anniversary on May 10th.

The final goal is to get a bird in every tree in town.

With the community’s response to the project, however, Grosz said the goals are taking flight.

“A better reception than we even expected. We thought some people would like it but we didn’t know everyone would like it,” said G  rosz.

When the student crafters were shown what the finished product would look like, Tjeersma said it meant a lot to the students.

“That just lit the kids’ face up. The “Hey, I was a part of this” and you could just see it all over their face they took a lot of pride in it,” said Tjeersma.

Students like Kayla Neugebauer and Cody Fischer said they’re excited to see their work hanging around town.

“That’ll be cool to see them and we can say that we helped cut them out and had a part in doing it,” said Neugebauer.

“It’s going to be awesome to see so many birds that we cut out and took the time and put the heart into,” said Fischer.

With a few popping up in trees around town, Grosz said the community is apparently eager.

“When’s mine coming? When do I get mine in my tree? That’s kind of been the response,” said Grosz, with a laugh.

Groups including the Thrivent Financial Group, the South Dakota Vo-Ad, the Long Term Recovery Team and Lutheran Social Services have donated money to help fund the cardinal project.

Rachel Heisinger with the Delmont Recovery Team said seeing the cardinals in town bring the recovery efforts to life.

“Just that color, it just gave a little spark to that town. It’s kind of a connection for them like we’re coming back, we’re still here and it’s just a sign of growth,” said Heisinger.

Heisinger also said they’ve been working on other projects including the cardinal project as part of a beautification effort, such as bringing in trees to replace ones that were torn down.

If you’re interested in donating money to the Delmont Relief Fund, Heisinger said mail a check to P.O. Box 8, Delmont, SD, 57330.

If you have interest in helping with painting or hanging up the cardinals, call the Paintbrush Studio at (605) 661-5547 or (605) 779-6801.