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Norwin show choir honored with Youth in Philanthropy Award

| Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, 11:53 p.m.
The Norwin High School Show Choir will be honored for its good works on November 15, 2012, when the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Western Pennsylvania Chapter presents its annual National Philanthropy Day awards. Submitted Photo

The Norwin Show Choir's affinity for helping others, while singing and dancing, will be recognized tonight with the Association of Fundraising Professional's national Youth in Philanthropy award.

The choir plans to accept an award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Western Pennsylvania Chapter, this evening at the Sheraton Station Square in Pittsburgh.

The show choir was one of 20 youth organizations nominated for the Youth in Philanthropy Award, said Helene Conway-Long, the vice president of communications for Association of Fundraising Professionals Western Pennsylvania Chapter.

“There are a couple things the committee looks at, including the longevity of the program, commitment of the individuals involved,” Conway-Long said. “Their efforts are impressive for a group of young people, who are giving up their time to help others.”

Conway-Long said the organization was impressed by the show choir's annual Christmas caroling fundraiser, which features students singing in neighborhoods throughout the region to raise money for children at Homelessness Ends with Advocacy, Resources, Training and Housing, or HEARTH, an Allegheny County-based residential program for homeless single mothers and their children.

Former show choir director Cheryl Walter, who still is active with its fundraising efforts, said the group began fundraising for HEARTH in 1998.

“They've been raising funds to stuff stockings at Christmas for the children, and we buy each of their mothers a $100 gift card to Target, so they'll be able to have gifts under their Christmas tree,” Walter said. “The show choir's Christmas caroling has become a wonderful tradition to help collect funds.”

Each year, the show choir raises enough money to purchase stockings and gift cards for 60 children, Walter said. Since its efforts began, she estimates the show choir has provided gifts for about 900 children at HEARTH.

Aside from HEARTH, the show choir also performs at Jubilee Soup Kitchen in Pittsburgh and The Children's Institute in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood, Walter said.

“Music lends itself to community service, so this is a great way to teach the kids about helping others,” Walter said. “They're all passionate about helping somebody else, so they just take these projects and run with them.

“You never do this to be recognized, but I just think it's a wonderful feeling to know the kids have been able to use their musical talents to be so involved in the community.”

Show choir choreographer Erin Schrader was a member of the group the first year it began its annual Christmas caroling project. She said it has been great to see the project grow and become a holiday tradition.

She said the show choir's efforts now go well beyond the holiday season.

“Their fundraisers go to help these kids with books and things for school, to help with the cost of things we don't even think about,” Schrader said. “A lot of students in the Norwin community might not realize people need things like this, since many of them are fortunate and have lots of opportunities.

“The show choir has become a community-service organization and a very important part of the Norwin community, and that's the legacy I hope is remembered.”

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or bpedersen@tribweb.com.

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