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Cody Choraliers give back to local schools

By Tim Linn,
Originally posted in Leavenworth Times,

Leavenworth, Kan. — They’ve been raising a heck of a lot more than their voices this year.

The Cody Choraliers, the Leavenworth barbershop chorus that serves as the local chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society, have long been giving a portion of their proceeds to charitable causes.

According to Tim Anderson, vice president of membership for the club, the process for that charitable giving has changed over the years.

“Several years back, we kind of took stock of who we were and what we wanted to do, and we refocused our charitable contributions that we provide to the community,” Anderson said. “We decided that rather than shipping that off to our international society and letting them put the money to very good uses, we wanted to keep it here in our own community.”

Mike Owen, president of the Cody Choraliers, said the group began to deliver letters to each of the public school vocal music departments in the county asking for proposals as part of a competitive grant process.

Jonnie Brice, director of vocal music at Lansing High School, said over the years her school has been able to upgrade the sound system at the district auditorium and purchase stools to be used in performances using grant funds from the Choraliers.

“There’s just been things along the way that they’ve helped us with,” that the district might not necessarily have budgeted for at the time, she said.

This year, Owen said the board of the Choraliers decided to approach the process differently in order to reach more students.

“We just decided to give everybody money,” he said.

Anderson said the group is always trying to share barbershop harmonies with the community through its annual concert and events like the upcoming Christmas caroling.

This year, Owen said the group’s annual concert at the Lansing School District Auditorium, which featured a performance by reigning international barbershop quartet champions Storm Front, was sold out.

“Through selling those tickets we raise a lot of money, and that keeps us going in our hobby, but we like to share that with the youth,” Anderson said.

Representatives from each of the public school districts in Leavenworth County — Leavenworth, Lansing, Pleasant Ridge, Tonganoxie, Basehor-Linwood and Fort Leavenworth — were on hand to accept their awards, a total sum of $4,000.

To some, the extra funding was a surprise. Tom Gifford, music instructor at Tonganoxie Middle School and Tonganoxie High School, said he was a little surprised to find that his school was going to receive the money. But that’s not to say the funds won’t be put to good use. He said there is an upcoming high school trip to St. Louis, as well as equipment needs.

“We really need a portable keyboard to take along with us,” Gifford said.

In the future, Owen said the club hopes to continue providing funds for community schools if possible as a way to show thanks.

“We are so appreciative of the community for supporting us,” Owen said.

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