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Benefit concert raises funds for hardest hit

Relief for the victims of flooding this spring has begun to pour in, through donations, and the help of a benefit concert.

Relief for the victims of flooding this spring has begun to pour in, through donations, and the help of a benefit concert.

The Church of God turned its annual spring concert into a vehicle to help the families who have been most devastated by the flood. With the Liberty Quartet, an American musical group, performing at the church on Friday evening, between $6,500 and $7,000 was raised, and roughly 300 people attended.

The money is set to be handed over to the Salvation Army today. They will then distribute the money to those who lost homes, most notably, families from Roche Percee.

As Mike Smeltzer, chair of the missions committee at the Church of God, explained, "All funds that were donated will go to the Salvation Army, to be distributed to those most needy families."

As for having a musical act performing within days, Smeltzer said it was just good timing.

"In terms of having it readily available, I guess it was just fortunate timing that we had them coming in, and the flood had just happened," he said. "(Liberty Quartet) were willing to turn it into a benefit concert. We were willing to adopt it as a missions project. It all came together remarkably well."

He said the group had travelled via Minot on their way to Estevan and had seen the damage there, so they were very willing to do the concert as a benefit.

Smeltzer said the missions committee held a meeting last Tuesday, three days before the concert, and that was when the decision to turn it into a benefit was made. That left little time to get the word out to public.

Though he said they were unable to fill the church's space, including the balcony seats, like they had hoped, "In the midst of all of that, the advertising and raising the awareness in terms of the need, we're trusting that others will be encouraged to develop events for support as well. Everyone's aware there is tremendous need in the families that have lost everything."

Major Len Millar of the Estevan Salvation Army, said they have been working every day, providing three meals a day to those who had been evacuated and residing at the Souris Valley Aquatic and Leisure Centre. Because of this, their food reserves have been greatly diminished.

While the money from the benefit concert is going to victims of the flooding, other donations to the Salvation Army will be addressing their shortage in non-perishable foods. The local United Way chapter presented Millar with a $2,000 cheque, which will help them replenish their food stocks.

"We're providing all the volunteers. Initially we provided all the food, and then we just put a request out to the public, and they've responded tremendously, so they're providing a lot of goods," said Millar.

He said there have been about 150 volunteers who have helped out doing the cooking and cleanup. As evacuated people began to return to homes in Willow Park Greens, the Salvation Army provided a food hamper for everyone who stayed at the leisure centre. That included other necessities, like clothes and toiletries.

"It's a real generous community. It's nice that we can partner together and make a difference. We want to help people as much as we can."

Millar said last Thursday night, just before people were able to head back to Willow Park Greens, they held a turkey supper, calling it "Thanksgiving," which included stuffing and even 45 boxes of lemon-meringue pie that were donated.

Smeltzer said the church has been looking for ways to serve the community in a more meaningful way.

"We were really encouraged by the support of the community," said Smeltzer.

He noted that the event wouldn't have been a success without the help of their corporate sponsors, adding that, "It really was a community effort."

A handful of local businesses are also pitching in to help those impacted by the flood. From June 23 to June 28, XS-iV in Estevan offered customers a discount for a donation. All money raised will go to the Kinettes to purchase food, clothing and other items for flood victims.

As well, Houston Pizza is hosting a fundraiser Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For $6 people will receive chili on a bun, salad and a drink. All money raised will go to the Salvation Army.