GRAND CROSSING — Thanks to some hefty donations, including a $10,000 gift from two South Side businessmen, the South Shore Drill Team has reached its goal and now has the money to head to Washington, D.C., to perform in the Presidential Inaugural Parade on Monday.
Since Dec. 26, the non-profit drill team has been conducting an aggressive fundraising drive to raise $45,000 to cover travel and lodging expenses to the parade.
Three weeks ago, it had only raised $1,000. As of Wednesday, the team has raised $50,500, which includes $10,000 donations from Walgreens and businessmen Timothy and Everett Rand, brothers who run Midway Airport Concessionaire.
Blues legend Buddy Guy got into the act, too, pitching in $4,000, according to Stella Natufe-Smith, events coordinator for the South Shore Drill Team.
For the Rands, they said, "Giving is natural for us."
"We believe in education and want to see these kids doing something besides standing on the corner or being hauled off to jail," said Everett Rand, a Hyde Park resident. "Every year, we provide money for college scholarships to needy students especially those attending historically black colleges and universities where the need seems to be the greatest."
The drill team consists of 300 inner-city youth, but only 50 of them will actually make the journey to Washington, D.C., to represent the 32-year old organization.
"We will be leaving at 11 p.m. Friday," said Natufe-Smith.
The money was needed because those chosen to perform in the parade are responsible for their own expenses, according to the Presidential Inaugural Committee.
The drill team, which includes performers ages 8 through 21, puts on 125 shows a year, and practices weekly at the Gary Comer Youth Center in Grand Crossing, said Ayoka Samuels, senior program director for the center.