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Festival Of Men?s Voices Helps Project S.O.S.

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Around 6,650 backpacks were given out to children need of school supplies this year. But helping the kids doesn't stop there. Fifteen years ago, the Banquet in Sioux Falls began recruiting choruses in the area to help out. Sunday, they sang again at O'Gorman High School Lorang Theatre, raising money for the cause.
More than 180 singers in five different chorus groups are volunteering their time for kids in need of school supplies.

"We hear from teachers and administrators that when children start off the first day of school with the supplies they need so they are successful for the school year," said Banquet Special Events Director, Madeline Shields.

Over 1,000 people shared the same vision on Sunday, packing the seats of the O'Gorman Lorang Theatre for the 15th Annual Men's Voices Choir Concert.

"Getting involved with underprivileged children is part of what the group is all about. That's why we’ve been going out for 40 years,” said chorus member, Marlowe VanGinkel.

Together they raised more than $8,300 for the Banquet. It’s money that will buy even more backpacks and supplies for children who don't have them.

The event may seem big, but the project that helps more than 6,000 children each year started out small with a conversation at the Banquet.

“We had a mother there that had several children and she was sobbing and wondering how she was going get school supplies for her children when she can’t feed them,” said Shields.

Soon a few school supplies were left on the tables, and people like Ann DeWit stepped in.

"When I came in, they needed someone to get the supplies and get them organized as they came in," said Project S.O.S. organizer, Ann DeWit.

She said in its first couple of years, she helped store the supplies in her own home.

"There was no place to keep it at the banquet so our basements and attic was full,” said DeWit.

What started with a few crayons and notebooks has grown into an auditorium full of people, singing the same song, in the tune of helping others.
If your child or anyone you know is in need of a backpack, you can contact The Banquet in Sioux Falls. They give out one backpack to each child per school year.
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