Valley teens raise funds for mission trip

By JONATHAN BURTON
Press Staff

DEEP RIVER - Valley teens raised $25,000 to fund a mission trip to La Plant, S.D., where they will work closely with other volunteers to help residents of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.

Simply Smiles Inc., a Connecticut based Charity, is in charge of the trip. Simply Smiles is a 501c3 non- profit organization founded in 2003. The organization is dedicated to providing bright futures for impoverished children, according it’s the website.

La Plant, being one of the poorest places in America, is an ideal place for the volunteers to go, according to Mark Pierce, a member of Simply Smiles board of directors.

“The kids and people there will benefit from our help,” Pierce said.

There are 13 students and nine adults going on the trip. Pierce said the trip is open to anyone who wants to go, as long as they are willing to participate. Volunteers have to be willing to help raise money for the trip, and agree to participate when they arrive to the reservation.

Pierce praised the teens Saturday, July 4, as he watched them sale baked goods at the Ivoryton parade. He said they all did a wonderful job raising money for the trip this year.

“We are very close to our goal of $25,000,” he said. “I believe we’ll have it all after today.”

The group started fundraising back in October, Pierce said. Saturday was their last day of fundraising. They sold dinners, received donations, held a concert, and had bake sales.

Pierce and the 21 volunteers are leaving on August 30 for their seven day mission trip. He said, even though the group is there for seven days he is confident that they will get a lot of work accomplished.

The group has a full itinerary. According to Pierce they will run a day camp for kids’ ages 8 to 12, they will learn about the Lakota traditions, work with home owners to winterize their houses, and possibly start construction on a new house.

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